10 Pushup Variations That Build Your Entire Body

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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10 Pushup Variations That Build Your Entire Body

Ah, the pushup. Simple, cheap and brutally effective.

First, it’s the ultimate upper-body exercise: It strengthens your chest, shoulders, arms and abs — and it can even improve your shoulder health.

Second, it’s the ultimate body-weight exercise because it offers so many variations that actually strengthen your entire body.

Ready for a great leg or back workout with the old-fashioned pushup? Read on for the 10 best pushups that will give you an amazing body-weight workout from head to toe.


Pushups are amazing, but too many pushups and not enough back exercises can cause problems like muscle imbalances, postural issues and shoulder pain.

Prevent it with the ultimate two-for-one: The renegade row. This move combines chest and a back exercise for an upper-body crusher.


If you’ve taken a bootcamp class, you know the mountain climber is a great cardio exercise and a leg-killer. Make it a total-body move by doing a pushup in between — you’ll boost both your lower-body and upper-body endurance at the same time.


It’s hard to mimic overhead pushes with just your body weight (unless you can do handstand pushups). That’s where the pike pushup comes in: In the “pike position” — with your hips as high you can — push yourself down and up. Now, you can target your deltoids and traps far better than a regular pushup.


Explosiveness will help you in any sport. While the traditional clapping pushup focuses on just your chest, a jumping pushup will activate all your fast-twitch muscles from your fingertips to your toes.


Pushups already target your core, but one quick tweak will take it to the next level. As you descend, bring one knee toward that elbow on the same side (which looks like Spider-Man climbing a building). Return your leg as you push and alternate sides. You’ll strengthen not only your six-pack muscles but also your obliques for a complete core workout.


Using a suspension trainer can unlock a lot of different angles and intensities with a regular pushup. For example, putting your feet into the straps will automatically create instability and force your muscles to work much harder.

From there, blast your abs and legs simultaneously by pulling your knees to your chest between every pushup. Good luck.


This is a great move to open your midback or thoracic spine — which tends to be tight and stiff for a lot of people — and strengthen your shoulders. Also, by moving dynamically, you target more muscles and burn more calories.


A bird dog is a simple exercise done on your hands and knees where you reach with opposite arm and opposite leg to strengthen your core and activate your glutes. Blend it with a pushup, however, and you’ll work a lot of muscles all at once for more cardio and more calories burned.


Strengthen your entire body by adding a quick leg move that targets your glutes and hip stabilizing muscles. Use this move as a great total-body activation drill if you’re training outside or as a finisher for a nice upper-body pump and great conditioning.


Last, but not least, target the muscles you actually want to target with your pushups: your pecs. By adding a slideboard to your fitness toolbox — which has very little friction — you can turn a traditional pushup into a chest flye for serious isolation and muscle growth.


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About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.


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