The pushup is one of the simplest and most effective exercises out there. A few sets of pushups will help you sculpt your pecs, tris, and delts with nothing more than your body weight.
But you could be getting more out of your pushups–no, it’s true! These variations will make your body work harder and improve your results.
1. Medicine Ball Chest Squeeze Pushups
Place a medicine ball directly under you in the middle of your chest. Grab the ball with both hands and start your pushup.
You’ll have to work to keep your balance because of the instability of the medicine ball, and it will make your muscles work even harder. If you don’t have a medicine ball, try using a basketball, volleyball, etc…
2. Medicine Ball Extended Rom Pushups
This is similar to the last variation except you’re adding another medicine ball to the mix. Grab two similarly sized medicine balls and put them under you about shoulder width apart. Once you have your balance, move each ball beyond shoulder width.
This variation will really be a challenge for your core strength. Make sure to keep your core as tight as you can.
3. Medicine Ball Archer Pushups
Okay, time to simplify and go back to one medicine ball. Put it under one arm and extend it as far to the side as you can. Keep your other hand in a standard pushup position.
The arm with the medicine ball won’t be able to assist as much because of its position, therefore the exercise will really isolate one arm and one pec at a time. It also works on shoulder stability for the extended arm. Once you can knock out a few archer pushups with each arm, you’re well on your way to a one-armed pushup.
4. Kettlebell Bottoms Up Pushups
This is like the medicine ball chest squeeze except you’re using a kettlebell. Carefully balance a kettlebell on its handle and grab the round end with both hands.
The handle of the kettlebell will be even more unstable than a medicine ball, so your balance and core strength will be tested.
5. Band-Resisted Pushups
If you can’t get your hands on a medicine ball or kettlebell, a resistance band is another good option to upgrade your pushup. Loop the band around each hand and wrap it around your back just below your shoulder blades.
Do your pushups as you normally would, with the band providing resistance. Make sure to explode up powerfully to get the most out of this exercise. The great part is the most resistance will come at the top of the pushup where you’re strongest.
6. Dumbbell T Pushups
Get a set of dumbbells and set yourself up in a normal pushup position. When you raise your body up, extend your right arm up and rotate your body to the right with your arm. You need to roll your feet, so you’re resting on the outer edge of your left foot, too. If you do it right, your body should look like a 45-degree angle T in relation to the floor.
It will work your obliques, shoulder, and core for greater strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance.
7. Dumbbell Pushup Row
This is another great dumbbell workout. Again, get a set of dumbbells and set up in the standard position. After you get to the top of the pushup, take your right hand and lift it straight up in a rowing motion.
It increases the intensity of the pushup while working the chest and the back.
8. Weighted Pushups
This is one of the simplest ways to add intensity to your pushups. Use a weight, sandbag, or weighted vest to add 10 percent of your body weight.
Do your pushups with the extra weight making each rep more difficult. You can add more weight in 5- or 10-pound increments as you progressively get stronger.
9. Sliding Single-Arm Pushups
The sliding arm pushup is the same concept as the archer pushup. Get something that will slide smoothly along the surface you’re on and put it under one hand. Slide that hand forward as you lower yourself and back toward you when you raise yourself.
Your extended arm won’t be able to take on as much weight as your other arm, which will isolate one side of your body nicely.
10. Spider Pushups
This simple variation on the standard pushup doesn’t require any additional equipment. Start off doing a standard pushup, and on the way up, lift your right foot up off the floor and swing your leg out to the side. Your goal should be to get your knee to touch your elbow.
It will really work your obliques and core.
Remember, variety is important in life, even when it comes to pushups!