20 Awesome Push Up Variations.  Stay Fit While the Gym’s Closed

20 Awesome Push Up Variations. Stay Fit While the Gym’s Closed

Using push up variations can allow you to work the upper body from many different angles.

With gyms closed and people looking for ways to stay strong and in shape, having some solid body-weight exercise variations in your arsenal can be invaluable.

The Push Up

The push up is a staple upper body exercise.

Dating back thousands of years, it’s been used to build upper body strength and endurance for warriors and athletes.

Today, it continues to be used by the military as a measure of upper body strength and endurance (and punishment).

There are countless ways to perform the push up, and variety is a good thing. While most variations work the chest, shoulders and triceps, we can do so in ways that challenge the whole body, including the core.

Disclaimers: 1. Talk to your doctor before doing any type of exercise program. 2. This article contains affiliate links.

Ok, glad that’s out of the way… let’s move on.

Using Push ups to keep your gym gains

In the absence of a gym, you may be left with nothing but your own body weight and whatever you have in your house. Use this time as an opportunity to work on new strengths.

If you’re trying to hold onto (or build) strength and muscle, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use explosive exercises like Depth push ups, plyometric pushups and jumping push ups. This will stimulate the fast twitch muscle fibers, which are the largest and most powerful.
  • Use deficit push ups to get a deep stretch of the chest and shoulders and work through a full range of motion.
  • Use BFR Bands to stimulate additional muscle gains. Use science to your advantage! Check out my article on BFR to learn more.
  • The same principles would apply to lower body exercises. Use explosive movements like high jumps, bounding and box jumps.

20 Push up Variations

#1-5 Hand Placement

Simply changing your hand placement can have a dramatic effect on how the push up movement works the upper body. Here we’ll use the standard push up, close grip, wide grip, fingers out, and reverse.

Remember to try and keep your body in a straight line, from head to foot. Slouching or arching your back is a sign that there’s a break in the chain, usually indicating a weak core.

#6 Banded Push ups

Resistance Bands are cheap and extremely versatile. Get yourself a few of varying resistance and you’ll be able to do a lot more from home. Here’s a Solid Set of Bands at a pretty good price from Amazon. (updating this regularly as bands have been selling out recently because of the quarantine.)

You can vary your hand placement with bands as well. Do standard push ups, wide grip push ups and close grip. Use heavier bands for more resistance.

#7 Sphinx Push ups

Sphinx push ups force the triceps muscle to do most of the work. These can be tough if your triceps strength isn’t up to par.

One way I like to do these to challenge myself: Do sphinx push ups to failure, then remain in the plank position (you’re already there) for 30 seconds to a minute.

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#8 Slide Board Push Ups

Slide board push ups are one of my favorite push up variations. They really force one arm to take on most of the pressing responsibility, while the other arm is outstretched, forcing the core to work hard to stabilize the body.

You can use a towel on any smooth surface, like the floor. In the video, I’m using Core Sliders, as the floor mats in my home gym are not smooth.

These just feel awesome to do. You have to focus on pressing back up and stabilizing your body all in one movement. It’s a challenging movement for sure.

#9 Deficit Push ups

Deficit push ups are another favorite of mine. They are a unique variation, as they allow you to go beyond the normal range of motion you’d use in a bench press or regular push up. You should feel a good, deep stretch of the chest and shoulders at the bottom portion of the movement.

#10 True Push ups

Number 10 is an extension of number 9. True push ups are the same as deficit push ups, except you also elevate your feet on a platform, usually at the same height as your hands. This will be harder, as you’ll be pushing more of your body weight back up. It’s basically a push up with a deeper range of motion.

I’m using 45lb plates in the videos, but you can use whatever you have around your home. Books, Dumbells… be creative!

#11 Depth Push ups

Depth push ups are an explosive push up variation. Starting with both hands elevated on a platform, you’ll drop down and control your descent briefly before exploding back up.

Depth push ups utilize the stretch-shortening cycle (plyometrics). The rapid generation of force stimulates the fast twitch muscle fibers, which are the largest and most capable of growth. This type of movement teaches the body to generate force quickly, increasing power.

Be careful with these. I’d recommend not trying to go to failure to avoid injury, in particular of the wrists. In general, with explosive movements, you want to do as many reps as you can feel powerful for. When you slow down, end the set.

#12 Hindu Push ups

I learned these many years ago when I was at an MMA seminar. It was led by Matt Fury (author of Combat Conditioning.) These push ups hit the shoulders really good, and the triceps as well. They also give you a good lower back and hamstring stretch (notice the yoga-like positions).

#13 Med Ball Push ups

Here, you’ll have one hand on a med ball (or other platform), and the other on the ground. This elevates one side of the body, forcing the core to work harder to stabilize the body.

#14 Superman Push ups

These are deceivingly challenging. Superman Push ups really force the core to work hard to stabilize your body. The position is similar to the extended position using an ab wheel, with your arms outstretched in front of you.

#15 Explosive Push ups

Also known as clapping push ups, although you really don’t need to clap. Simply push up as explosively as possible. I prefer to keep my hands ready to land vs clapping or touching my chest. This is to avoid landing wrong and injuring a wrist. When you’re fatigued, you may not come up as fast as you anticipate.

Similar to other explosive movements, these will work the fast twitch muscle fibers and are excellent at improving rate of force production (power).

#16 Jumping Push ups

These are an extension of number 15. However, now you’ll explode your entire body off of the ground on each rep. This can take a little coordination, but is a fun one once you get the hang of it.

#17 Fingertip push ups

Ok, if you’re feeling brave.. here’s a challenging one for you. Perform the standard push up on your fingers. Doing them on your fingers actually puts less stress on the wrist, as it is not in flexion. Martial artists have been using these for a long time. Be careful, you may have to build up to doing several reps of these.

#18 Prison Push ups

I spent a lot of years working in a prison, and I used to watch the inmates work out on the yard all the time. As I’m sure you know, they stay in pretty good shape. This is one variation they use a lot. After each set (4 push ups), try standing up and jogging in place for 10 seconds. Then repeat for a set period of time. (Inmates do it for hours).

#19 Shoulder Taps

Shoulder taps start with a standard push up. At the top of the movement, put one hand on the opposite shoulder for a second, then return to the push up. The brief time at the top with one arm extended forces the core to keep the body in position. This can be tougher than it looks.

#20 Chest Elevated Push ups

I saved these for last because they’re best done as a finisher (or a warm-up). They look easy, and they are… for a while. Try doing 100 reps unbroken (without pausing). It’s a good way to get some low impact volume in at the end, and to get a good upper body pump going.

If you have a barbell, put it at knee level and actively squeeze the bar inwards throughout the entire movement. It’s actually a rarely utilized but really beneficial finisher to use.

Workout Ideas

There are endless ways to make up body weight workouts at home. In general though, keep a few principles in mind:

  • Start with a good warm up, including some regular push ups
  • Use explosive exercises first. You want to have your full energy for the most demanding movements.
  • Don’t go to failure on explosive movements. Save that for the other exercises.
  • Make it interesting. Pick 4 or 5 variations and see how many you can do in 10 minutes, for example.
  • Incorporate push up variations with other exercises, like pull ups, squats, abs or even sprints.

BFR Bands

BFR (blood flow restriction) bands are a well researched, inexpensive implement you can use along with body weight exercises to increase muscle. I highly recommend getting a pair to get the most out of your higher-rep training. Look them up yourself if you like. I also have a whole article on them.

German 50 Push up workout

This is just one example of many of a push up workout, but it’s one I like, and it uses some of the variations we learned about in this article. It’s 10 reps of 5 push up variations using different hand placements, and Supermans. Pretty tough to do multiple unbroken sets of this.

If you want to see all the push up variations in one video, I’ll leave that here too.


I hope this article was helpful. These are just 20 of probably hundreds of variations of the push up. If you’re stuck at home, or traveling in a hotel room.. these can be a great way to get an effective workout in.

If you don’t have access to the gym for a while, use the time as an opportunity. Work on some weaknesses, learn some new exercises.. Improve yourself. Work with what you’ve got.

As always, I hope this article helps you get a little closer to that best version of you!

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

My Wife’s 1000 Rep Ab Routine.  At Home Ab Workout

My Wife’s 1000 Rep Ab Routine. At Home Ab Workout

My Wife: Hey, wanna do abs with me today?


scared of wife's ab routine

My Wife’s ab routine is pretty epic. She’s been doing it for years. Halfway through her 30’s and 2 kids later, she still has shredded abs and can do a 10 minute plank. Not to mention regularly doing this 1,000 rep routine.

If you just want to see the whole routine, you can check it out in the video below: If you’d like a breakdown and some good info on ab training, then read on.

1000 Rep Ab Workout Breakdown:

1000 reps workout

How Often Should You Work Your Abs?

Most experts recommend working your abs at most every other day. This allows a day in between for the muscles to recover, helping you avoid injuries. Just like any other muscle in the body, you don’t want to train your abs every day.

My wife does this routine two times per week and does another core routine with planks and weights 1-2 times per week. She’s been doing this for years without any injuries, and has a six-pack to show for it.

What If You’re Just Starting Out?

If you’re looking to start training your abs and core, you definitely don’t need to start with 1,000 reps. Instead of doing 100 reps of each exercise, try doing 15-20 reps. Then add reps each week until you feel ready to do the whole workout.

People mistakenly believe that more is always better. In this case, as is usually the case with exercise and working out, it is not. Always build up to higher volumes of training and make sure you’re able to recover.

5 Ab exercises to start with

She recommends using these 5 exercises if you’re just starting out. Do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps of each. Do this 2-3 times per week max when you’re just starting out. Then build up to hitting your abs more often over time.

Crunches with feet on the ground

  • Lay on your back with your feet on the ground
  • Don’t pull on your neck when you crunch up. This puts unnecessary strain on your neck and can create injuries.
  • Gently crunch up by flexing your abs, squeezing them on each rep.

Leg Raises

  • Lay flat on your back, hands under your butt.
  • Keep your back and head touching the floor throughout the movement.
  • Keeping your legs straight (slight bend is ok) raise your legs to 90 degrees, then back down.
  • Try to keep from touching your feet to the ground
  • The legs are a long lever, making injury risk higher. Stay under control with slow, controlled movements and don’t force reps out.

Knees to Chest:

  • Start from a high plank position (push-up position).
  • Bring your knee to your chest, then back out. Repeat for 10 reps each side.
  • This movement can help get you started on building core strength and stability for more intense training in the future.


plank position abs
  • Assume the plank position by resting on your forearms and feet.
  • Don’t allow your body to sag (hips to the floor) or arch up.
  • Try to keep your body in a straight line.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 30 seconds, then add more time each week.
  • Planks build core strength and endurance and have many other physical benefits.

Side Planks

side planks ab workout
  • If you felt comfortable in the plank position, try 2-3 sets of 30 seconds each side in the side plank.
  • Again, your body should form a generally straight line from head to foot.
  • Side planks work the oblique abs really well and build endurance in the upper body as well.

Diet and Nutrition for staying lean

No discussion about abs would be complete without talking about nutrition.

My wife puts me to shame when it comes to eating healthy. She isn’t extreme about it, but here are some things that I see her do every day that help her stay lean and strong.

  1. She Juices every morning. First, a shot of ginger, lemon juice and turmeric. Then a green juice containing a variety of vegetables and sometimes fruit. Her favorite is:
juicing for lean abs workout

2. She drinks a gallon of water every day. She carries around a gallon jug and makes sure she finishes it each day. This helps cleanse the body and stay hydrated. It also help to keep your stomach feeling more full.

3. She prefers protein over heavy carbs and sweets. At dinner she will sometimes eat a piece of chicken or steak and barely touch the potatoes or rice. She’ll eat vegetables instead. Protein builds muscle and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

4. She does moderate intensity cardio and lifts weights at least 2-3 times per week. (See this article if you want to know more about this). Lifting/resistance training makes your body a fat burning machine. The article I highlighted above can help you to understand how this works.


I hope you liked this article. The purpose was not only to display my wife’s ab routine, but also to offer some insight into how you can achieve a leaner body and shape up your abs by dissecting what she does.

My wife isn’t usually too into my blog posts, but since I know she’ll be reading this one.. I love you babe! And maybe, just maybe… I’ll do abs with you tomorow.

Thanks for being here, and I hope this article helped in some way to get you a little closer to that best version of yourself.

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