Different Push-Up Variations for Different Muscles

Woman doing push ups

Push-ups are the easy, humble, basic exercise that can strengthen your entire body without you spending a single penny on gyms and gym equipment. Different variations work different muscles, so try these out today at home and get fit without racking up debt.


In traditional push-ups, your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, your belly button, and hips tucked in. If you’re not sure about how good your form is, you can get into position in front of a mirror. Make sure your entire spine is straight and you’re holding your body up with your back muscles, not just your arms. Traditional push-ups are great for beginners who want to get used to this type of exercise. 


To work your shoulders more, widen your grip so that they are 6 inches to a foot wider than they were in the traditional form. This position will work your shoulders, trapezius, and latissimus muscles. It’s great for people who have a hunched posture and want to strengthen the upper back muscles that pull their shoulders back.


Got that not so fun giggle on your arms that you want to get rid of? Then put your hands close together, with index fingers and thumbs touching. This close-grip position will work your triceps, the muscles on the underside of your upper arms. While it won’t melt the fat that’s there, large triceps means more definition under all that fat. This leads to less flapping of the flesh when you raise your arm to hail a cab.


Push-ups are great core workouts. To up the ante, try doing a one-leg push-up. This will force the smaller muscles in your core to engage and help you balance. If you do sports such as surfing, snowboarding, or paddleboarding, this is a great bonus exercise to do on days that you can’t get out onto the water. 


For the Spiderman push-up, start in a traditional position. When you go down toward the ground, pull one knee up toward your elbow. You should look like Spiderman, slightly suspended above the ground, about the step up onto the wall. Extend your leg back down and do it on the other side. This exercise will further strengthen your core, your sense of balance, and increase hip mobility.

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