5+1 push-up exercises for the strong body

Who said that push-ups cannot be diversified? We show you 5+1 ways to hype up this very efficient strengthening exercise!


We usually call the arm-bending and stretching exercise as push-up. Men generally practice this exercise with a good spirit, and women are more likely to just avoid it. However it may be, push-up is certainly a useful exercise that is worthy of including it in beginner and advanced workout plans irrespective of sex and age!

Its greatness not only lies in the fact that it beautifully strengthens and forms the big thoracic muscle, but also in that it moves a lot of other muscles throughout the training.

The big thoracic muscle is a synergist type of muscle, that’s role is to help the operation of the muscles that carry out the work, like:

  • the musculus triceps brachii (tricephalic arm muscle),

  • the musculus deltoideus anterior (the frontal part of the deltoid muscle),

  • and also the musculus pectoralis minor muscle (small thoracic muscle).

To cap it all, this exercise has a vast number of variations and combinations! In this article we present 5+1 exercises, that of which you will most certainly find the one that is suitable for you!

What is push-up?

It is a complex exercise, on the course of which movement happens in two joints (shoulder and elbow) and a lot of muscles play a role during execution.

Starting position:

Frontal push-up position, with a hand support wider the width of the shoulders. The big thoracic and the tricephalic arm muscles are in a pre-flexed state.

Exercise description:

During the execution of the traditional version, the arms have to move away from the core laterally, while the chest is closing towards the ground. The body has to be held in a straight state from crown of head until the heels. The chest touches the ground, then, by stretching the elbows, the exercise goes back to the starting position. In the phase of closing towards the ground, make sure you execute the exercise slowly, while the movement of moving away from the ground can be quick, dynamic. All the way through the exercise the stabilising muscles of the core are in a flexed state.

Why is it popular?

Why is it popular?

1. There is no place or time restriction!

Carrying out the exercise in its basic form does not require a gym environment or any special fitness equipment. Its practice is not bound neither to time, nor place: it can be done at home, in the gym, or outside, irrespective of the part of the day and weather. This is one of the oldest and most popular body weight exercises, that stands its ground in terms of a beginner or even in an advanced workout plan.

2. Cheap workout method!

How much does a push-up cost? It costs exactly zero Forint! In order to do it, there is no need to have a terribly expensive sports equipment, but you will need enough will, persistence, and motivation. Results do not come instantly, but keep your chin up, because continuous practice bears fruit!

3. An exercise that is mobilising and strengthening the whole body!

Mainly the thoracic muscle does the work during the exercise, but it makes the deltoid and tricephalic muscles work, too. In addition, thanks to pre-flexing a lot of other muscle groups are also working during the exercise!

4. It has a strong stabilising role!

It mobilises muscle groups that are responsible for core strength. Among others, it is very important for the muscles of our body to keep our spine in the appropriate position. In order to truly realise this stabilising function, be careful to flex the abdominal and gluteus muscles right from the starting position until the last moment of the exercise. Furthermore, make sure to keep your full body in one straight line from the crown of head until your toes.

5. You cannot get bored!

Thanks to its numerous variations, it gives variety to the execution of the exercise, and you can always find a new challenge in it. It can be carried out by beginner or advanced athletes too. Other versions include the exercises carried out in wide and narrow palm support, as well as in diamond support. It can be combined with other exercises, but clapping attached to the exercise cheers up the atmosphere of the workout, or execution with only one hand also has the same effect.

5+1 push-up variations

Now let’s see some push-up exercises that are worthy of implementing them in your workout plan.

1. Arm bending and stretching in wide push-up position

We consider the wide push-up as the traditional exercise in the common language. It mainly effects the thoracic muscles, especially the big thoracic muscle, but it moves the whole muscle in a great extent. This variation is not among the simplest kinds of variations, but its execution is more easier than for example those detailed in the following.

Beginners can also carry out this exercise: if execution is difficult, just take it easy, bend the knees and place them onto the ground. In this case we are talking about an easier push-up exercise. If this exercise is yet again too difficult to execute, we can place a step under the palm support functioning as a stable platform.

2. Arm bending and stretching in push-up position executed with narrow palm support

During this variation of the push-up exercise, mainly the triceps muscle will do the work, but the big thoracic and the deltoid muscles also accompany the work to give a hand.

Starting position:

Frontal push-up position, with an arm support wider as the width of the shoulders. The palms are level on the same line under the shoulders and the elbows. The body should be straight from the crown of the head to the heels. The abdominal and gluteus muscles are in flexed state, the neck is the natural elongation of the spinal column.

Exercise description:

The arms have to be held close to the core, while the chest is closing towards the ground. The chest should get close to the hands supporting on the ground as much as possible, then it goes back to the starting position by stretching the elbows. During the exercise, bending the arms is worthy of executing it slowly, while stretching can happen quickly, dynamically. It is important to keep almost all of the muscles of our body flexed throughout the execution of the exercise.

 The one hand push-up

3. The one hand push-up

If the push-ups go well when carrying them out in the basic position, we can go on to the next level. The push-up carried out with one hand most certainly rewards the executor with eyes of recognition, and it is a great experience, too.

This exercise demands at least a level of physical condition as those versions that are carried out with using extra weights. In the beginning it should be practiced with the legs held in straddle position in order to make it easier to execute the exercise. Gradually narrowing the straddle position ends up in making the exercise more difficult, therefore, according to the principle of progressivity, we can narrow the straddle position held with our legs more and more, until our legs become closed.

4. Walking forward in straddle position then arm bending and stretching

Ready, steady, go! We may safely choose the following exercise as a warmup element before workout, but it stands its ground as a full exercise, too. Beware! We are speaking about a complex exercise here that demands focus, persistence and enough body-awareness!

Starting position:

For the sake of executing the exercise more easily, start from a hip-wide straddle position. Arms are resting by the body, the spine should be held in its natural position.

Exercise description:

While executing the exercise, concentrate on keeping the pelvis in its natural position. It is important to make sure that the stomach does not close towards the ground too much, and the abdominal and gluteus muscles should be flexed continuously. While keeping the shoulders in their natural position, we should do our best to gradually step forward with changing the arms until we reach complete push-up position. Hold push-up position for a moment, then do arm bending and stretching. Following this, go back to the starting position with the help of changing arm motions.

5. Arm bending and stretching in push-up position with TRX rope

Starting position:

Hang up the TRX rope steadily in a way that the handholds should be 30-40 cm high above the ground. Settle in sitting position in front of the TRX, then by crossing the ropes with each other, hang our feet into the ropes. Turn into kneeling support while keeping the palms on the ground. Try to point a distance, that after lifting the body up from the ground, we should be able to get into a regular push-up (starting) position.

Exercise description:

Hold the push-up position static for a moment while flexing the abdominal and gluteus muscles. Then carry out arm bending and stretching according to the previous exercises. The location of the palm support depends on which muscle work we wish to concentrate on in the first place.

+1. Four stroke push-up combined with arm bending and stretching

Starting position:

Settle in a shoulder-wide straddle position, make sure our feet are turning outwards a little bit. The knees are in a slightly bent position, and while we keep our back erect, we raise our chest and make sure we keep the position of the pelvis in a natural state compared to the spinal column.

Short description of the exercise:

Squat down starting from standing position, make sure our palms are on the ground under the shoulders. Jump into push-up position, then carry out arm bending and stretching with narrow palm support. Jump up, push off high above the ground, and in the meantime, try to stretch our limbs as high as possible.

Frequent mistakes to avoid

Frequent mistakes to avoid

In order to avoid injuries, as well as for the sake of appropriate muscle work and development, it is important to take care of, and try to avoid the following types of mistakes. In case we sense each of the below list on ourselves during workout, then it is worthy to analyse its reason and originator!

For example exaggerated lumbar lordozis or exaggerated dorsal kyphosis, flat or curved back syndrome can be in the background, but it may also simply happen that we made the wrong choice of exercise in terms of our train level.

It is worthy to ask for the help of an expert, even if we would like to ask for help related to the execution of the exercises, and even more so in case there is the possibility of a problem. Let’s not hesitate to visit the gym trainer in the gym for useful tips, or ask for the help of a personal trainer, or physiotherapist, if we feel it necessary to do so!

Let’s see some mistakes that we can make when we execute the exercise:

  • The abdominal and/or the gluteus muscles are not in a flexed state during the exercise, and thanks to this, the stomach falls down towards the ground.

  • The “opposite” of the previous case may also happen, in other words, the gluteus is pushed up too high throughout the exercise, therefore, the body is not held on a straight line.

  • It is worthy to give attention to the shoulders during the exercise: they are needed to be held in their natural position.

  • The palm support is in an inappropriate location. In case the type of the push-up has been chosen, it is important to take care of the locations of the palms-elbows-shoulders compared to each other.

  • It is not a coincidence that push-up has been one of the most popular exercises for a long time now, as it helps to move our complete body irrespective of money, time and location!

We can easily find appropriate exercises for women and men too, that might be implemented in beginner or advanced training programs, but they can also be inserted to the list of the exercises to be carried out at home!

Although, the exercise of the arm bending and stretching carried out in a traditional push-up position will never go out of fashion, those who like variety can already choose from innumerable variations and combinations. No more excuses! Its time to practice!

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