Pushups are one of the most basic and effective exercises for building upper body strength and core strength as it works your chest, triceps, shoulders, and abdominal muscles. Some benefits of adding pushups to your fitness regime include:
- Improved overall fitness and athleticism.
- It’s an efficient way of burning calories as it’s a compound exercise that works large muscle groups and raises your heart rate.
- It directly strengthens your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core which aids in reducing your risk of injuries.
- Core strengthening also improves and corrects your posture, which helps with lower back pain.
Correct form is important when performing any pushup. Using proper form ensures you’re doing the movement correctly so the correct muscles are working and there is less pressure on your joints. Keeping proper form while doing pushups can also be a measure of how you are progressing as your form will tend to become poorer the more fatigued you get but this will get better with every workout.
For example, see how many pushups you can do with the correct form until you struggle to maintain it, that should be your measure of progress.
Pushups are versatile and can be modified to suit different fitness levels and goals. This blog post will discuss 10 of the best pushups for chest and how to perform them correctly.
1. Standard Pushups
First, let’s cover how to do a standard pushup correctly before starting with the other variations. You’ll be surprised how many people don’t know how to perform a standard pushup correctly. Here’s how:
- Get into a high plank position with your hands shoulder width apart. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. You can either be on your palms or, if you have wrist injuries, your fists.
- Place your feet hip width apart or whatever position you feel most balanced and comfortable.
- Engage your core muscles while performing every pushup, ensuring your body stays straight and your back doesn’t curve.
- Keep looking in front of you to help keep your body straight as you perform the pushups, looking down makes it harder to keep the correct position.
- Lower yourself until your chest hits the ground or until your elbows are at least at a 90-degree angle.
- Ensure your elbows are close to your body the whole time and not flared out
- Explode back up until your arms are straight, there isn’t a need to fully lock your elbows out.
- Repeat until you are unable to continue or your form and posture starts to slip.
2. Knee Pushups
If you’re unable to perform regular pushups, knee pushups are a great way to work up to them. This exercise is performed exactly the same as a regular pushup but with your knees on the ground rather than your feet, making the exercise much easier on your upper body:
- Get onto your knees and then place your hands as you would for a normal pushup.
- Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your chest touches the floor, ensuring your elbows stay in and do not flare out and that your upper legs and hips are at a 90-degree angle while performing the pushup.
- Repeat until you can do about 20 to 30 repetitions while maintaining good form. Once you can achieve this, slowly build up your regular pushups.
3. Diamond Pushups
Diamond pushups get their name from the hand placement while performing the pushup. All the mechanics are the same as a regular pushup but the hand placement is in the shape of a diamond with your hands much closer together. This pushup variation works your triceps and inner chest:
- Start on all fours with your hips over your knees. Your hands should be slightly narrower than your shoulders. Connect your thumbs and index fingers, creating a diamond shape.
- Get a firm grip on the ground and then rotate your shoulders which will engage your lats.
- Get into the pushup position by lifting your knees and straightening your legs.
- Make sure your core is engaged and lower yourself toward your hands by bending your elbows until your arms are alongside your ribcage.
- Start going back up by straightening your arms and squeezing your chest, you should feel most of the load on your triceps.
- Ensure your core is engaged and your back and hips are straight the whole time.
- Repeat until your form starts to slip, then rest and repeat.
4. Wide Grip Pushups
Wide grip pushups are a harder variant of the pushup. This pushup is performed the same as a normal pushup, but your hands are further apart. This places more emphasis on your chest muscles and a little less on your triceps:
- Start in the plank position with your core engaged and place your hands wider than shoulder width.
- Lower yourself by bending your elbows until your chest touches the ground and then raise yourself back to the starting plank position.
- Repeat for as many reps as you can while maintaining proper form.
- Be sure to be careful while lowering yourself as this pushup does put a lot of strain on your chest as your muscles are being stretched more compared to a regular pushup.
5. Spider Pushups
Spider pushups are another harder variant of the pushup that requires more core strength and stability. The pushup mechanics are the same but as you’re lowering yourself to the floor you lift one knee to your elbow and then reset to a normal pushup position as you go back up. This does involve a bit of coordination and practice:
- Get into the starting plank position with your core engaged and hands at shoulder width.
- Bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor until your chest touches the ground.
- While lowering yourself, bring your left knee to your left elbow.
- While raising yourself, put your left leg back into position so you end up in the starting plank position.
- Repeat with the right side.
- Repeat until you start to lose your form, rest and then go again.
6. One-Legged Pushups
One-legged pushups build strength in your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. This pushup is performed like the regular pushup but one leg will be raised off the ground, putting more load on your core.
- Get into a pushup position with your core engaged. Lift one leg off the ground and keep it straight the whole time.
- Lower yourself to the ground, by bending your elbows, until your chest touches the floor.
- Explode back up into the starting position.
- Perform half of your set with one leg raised and then the other half with the other.
- Repeat until you struggle to maintain good form, then rest.
7. Decline Pushups
If you want to build your lower chest, decline pushups are the perfect exercise. This pushup is performed the same way as a regular pushup but your legs and feet will be elevated on a bench or any other raised surface. The higher your legs, the harder this pushup will be:
- Get into a pushup position with your core engaged and place your feet on a raised surface.
- Lower yourself to the floor by bending your elbows until your chest is in contact with the floor and then explode back up into the pushup position.
- Repeat until you start to lose your form and then rest for the next set.
8. Incline Pushups
Incline pushups will directly target your upper chest muscles. This pushup is performed the same as a regular pushup but with your hands elevated on a bench or raised surface:
- Get into a pushup position with your core engaged and place your hands on a raised surface.
- Lower yourself to the bench by bending your elbows until your chest is in contact with the bench or raised surface and then explode back up into the starting pushup position.
- Repeat until you start to lose your form and then rest for the next set
9. Single Arm Pushups
An advanced variation of the pushup, single arm pushups are performed similarly to a regular pushup but only using one arm. This can be quite challenging and will require some time to build up to:
- Start in the plank position with your core engaged and place one hand on the ground and the other behind your back.
- Lower yourself by bending your elbow until your chest touches the ground and then raise yourself back to the starting plank position.
- Repeat for as many reps as you can while maintaining proper form.
10. Handstand Pushups
Another advanced variation of a pushup which focuses on working your shoulders and triceps and upper chest muscles, depending on the angle you’re performing these at. Use a wall to balance yourself:
- Get into a handstand position with your core and glutes engaged.
- Lower yourself, slowly, until the top of your head is near the ground, and then push back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as you can while maintaining proper form and balance.
- A good way to start building up to these pushups is by practicing handstands and staying in that position for 30 seconds to a minute, then starting to try performing pushups.