Push Up Variations For New Gains
The push up is a classic exercise for developing upper body strength, core stiffness, strong shoulders, and arms. We’ve all done some variation of the push up in our life time. If you’re regularly including them in your programming, it may be time to switch things up in order to challenge yourself a little bit more – improving your strength and mobility.
If you can already perform, with perfect form 3 sets, of 8-10 reps, of standard push ups – these variations are suitable for you to try. If you can’t already perform that many standard push ups, work up towards performing those first. Your body needs time to adapt and prepare your tissue to handle the stress you’ll put on them with these more “advanced” versions of the movement.
Feet Elevated Push Up
The first place to start when trying to increase the difficulty of your push ups, should be the “feet elevated push up”. By elevating the feet onto a bench, chair, couch, etc. you’ll be increasing the percentage of body weight you’re pushing up. This makes use of disadvantages leverage and lets you stress your upper body without needing any equipment. Keep your form exactly the same as you would for a regular push up, focus on core stiffness, tight shoulders, and form.
Once you can perform 3 sets, of 8-10 reps, smooth and slow – you’ll be ready to move onto either of the following push up variations.
Ring Push Ups
Ring push ups, or suspension trainer push ups, are another fantastic way to challenge your upper body strength. The act of performing your push ups on the rings (or suspension trainer) adds an element of instability. This instability will force you to use more tension and core stiffness, in order to keep the movements smooth and clean. Also, push ups when performed on the rings will allow you to go a little deeper than you can when preforming them on the floor – allowing you to challenge and develop greater shoulder mobility.
Weighted Push Ups
As with any bodyweight based movement, you can always add some weight to make the movements more challenging. Try adding a resistance band wrapped around the back and placed under your palms (as you can see in the photo above) to add some extra difficulty and weight to your push ups. Of course a weight vest could also be used for this as well.
The weight vest is the most optimal of all methods, but you may not have one available. If that’s the case, the resistance band method will work just fine!
The resistance band is safe, easy to travel with, easy to set up, and easy to use. As you move out of the bottom of the push up (where you’re the weakest) the band will be at its least amount of resistance. As you’re making your way towards the top of the push up, the band will increase in tension. This all means the band will increase in tension as you approach the areas where you are strongest, and decrease in tension in the areas where you’re the weakest.