10 Pushup Variations to Strengthen Your Upper Body

I’ve always been a fan of body weight exercises and cardio-based exercises. I also come from a background of Insanity and kickboxing so that may have something to do with it. I’m also a big traveler so I don’t always have time to get into a weight room and lift weights for an hour or two before heading on an adventure.

In this one, I took 10 different types of pushups that I like to do to help build your upper body and all parts of the arm to get you ready for the nice weather that is on the way. We all know that with the nice weather comes sleeveless shirts, tank tops and no tops so here are some varied pushups you can do to help build that upper body before it’s time to hit the beach.


Wide-arm Pushups:

Wide-arm pushups are a little bit easier than regular pushups but help work all parts of the arm. How to do it is get into regular pushup position. From there, take your right hand and place it out and face your hand and wrist to the right (think 3 o’clock, while the rest of your body is facing 12 o’clock). With your left hand, step it out and towards 9 o’clock). From here, when you come down for the pushup, come down 90 degrees so your bicep and your elbow are parallel.


Tricep Pushups:

Tricep pushups are one of my favorites. Instead of moving your elbows out to the side like a normal pushup, bring your elbows straight back, running down the side of your rib cage on each side, and come down that way. You will really feel this in the back of your triceps and helps build the back of your arms as well as the biceps.


Staggered Pushups:

This is a great way to confuse your mind along with your body. Start in regular pushup position and now bring your left hand closer to your body so that it does a tricep pushup. Your right hand should move up away from the body and do a regular pushup. So essentially, one hand is doing a tricep pushup and the other is doing a regular one -pushup. Alternate hands each time. If you want to make this a bit tougher, push yourself off the ground so both hands are in the air at the same time when you switch from one side to the other.


Pulse Pushups:

Pulse pushups are a move I learned back in my Insanity days. Start in a regular pushup positon and do a regular pushup. On the way back up, push your hands off the ground and land in a tricep position. Do a tricep pushup and then push off the ground again and back into the regular pushup position. Make sure that you are wrists are warmed up from this as they are going to take the grunt of the landing when you do these so make sure that you are ready for that.


Tri-step Pushups:

These really take your pushup game to the next level. This is a three-step process and is a take off the pulse pushup. Start in tricep position, from here push out into a regular pushup (pulse pushup) and now from here push out again into a wide arm pushup. If you are just beginning, you should start by walking out into each type of pushup. Once you become a little more advanced with it, jump out into each one and then jump back in on your way back.


On the wall pushups:

So this one is just trying to take your pushup game to the next level. It’s exactly what it sounds like too. The first part of this is to either be completely barefoot or to have shoes with a good grip on them. You want to lay down on the floor and then put your feet against the wall. From here lift yourself up into pushup position and commence doing pushups while your feet are on the wall.


Negative Pushups:

This one helps put your arms through torture just doing a normal pushup. Instead of quickly seeing how fast you can go up and down during a pushup, on your way down, slowly bring your arms down. Take at least 3-5 seconds to lower all the ways down. Hover right above the ground at the bottom and then explode back up and repeat. These will burn your arms out quickly.


Fly Away Pushups:

Fly away pushups are a favorite of mine as you get to work your core and your stability as well. Get into regular pushup position and give me a pushup. Once you get back to the top of the pushup, raise your left hand and twist your feet into a side plank, holding yourself up only on the right side. Then come back to pushup position, do another pushup and lift up yourself onto the left side plank. Repeat. These help stabilize your core and for an extra effect, lift up your top leg when you come into the side plank on each side.


One-legged Pushups:

Again, this one is pretty obvious as to what it is. Get into regular pushup position and before you start, lift up one leg. I tend to do about 10 of them on one side before switching and lifting the other leg up. This helps put more weight on the arm of the same side as the leg that’s raised. I also like to do these in tricep pushup form to help work the back of the arms as well.


Spiderman Pushups:

Spiderman pushups are one of my favorite pushups to do because they work your oblique’s as well as your arms. This one can be done one of two ways. The advanced way is that starting in regular pushup position, as you lower your body towards the ground, you also bring one leg into your body trying to touch knee to elbow on the same side. This gives your oblique a nice crunch as well. Do one side than the other. If you aren’t able to do it both at the same time, you can do a normal pushup, then bring the knee up on one side then the other and then do another pushup. It’s a little bit easier to do until you get the full arm strength to hold your body. Trust me, this is a good one to do.

If you are going to do one of these a day, I would say do anywhere from 20-50 of them depending on where you are athletic wise. If you are going to do all of them, do 10 of each and work your way up from there.

These are just some of my favorite variations to do. I know there are tons of other ones that also help with working the upper body. Let me know which is your favorite on this list and if it’s not on here, tell me which one it is. I’d love to try it out and add it to my collection of exercises.


CT Kerney – Fitness Instructor, Social Media Manager, and Personal Trainer in Delray Beach, Florida
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