The pushup is one of the most versatile upper body exercises you can do and it doesn’t require any equipment at all. The key to its versatility however is understanding all the different pushup variations that allow you to hit every muscle with this popular home bodyweight exercise. In this video, I’m going to show you 18 different pushup variations that will allow you to hit your chest, quads, shoulders, back, triceps, core and even your legs.
We start with the obvious chest targeting that the pushup affords. The push-up is probably best known for its ability to help you build a bigger a chest, especially when training from home. That said, you can increase the stimulation on the chest if you do what is shown. First, instead of trying to push your body off the ground you want to think about squeezing your body off the ground. The best way to do this is by applying an inward force on the hands which will create an isometric adduction of the arms. This increases chest muscle activation and recruitment.
You can also perform something called the rotating pushup. This uses relative adduction which also helps to increase the activation of the pecs and better chest results over the long term.
We can also influence the amount of shoulder work we get from the pushup. Here, you want to move your hands back closer to your waist. This immediately shifts the majority of the workload to the front delts rather than the chest. Obviously, changing the angle of your body will also have an impact on the amount of work done by the shoulders. A pike or handstand pushup variation is sure to place a heavy overload on the delts. Even a middle delt variation can be done to simulate the action of a side lateral raise without needing a single dumbbell.
The interesting thing is that not just the triceps, chest and shoulders can be influenced by the right variation of a pushup. You can also get muscle groups involved that aren’t typically involved in this popular bodyweight exercise.
The best example of this is with the sliding pulldown pushup. You are re-creating one of the best back and lat exercises, the straight arm pushdown, and adding a pushup to the end of every rep. Here you lay face down on a slick floor like a tile or wood floor. You pull your body across the floor by adducting your elbows tight and into your sides. At the top of the pull, perform a pushup and then smoothly slide your body back out until you get a great stretch on your lats.
Other more direct back exercises such as the back widow can be performed as well to hit more than just the lats. The upper back muscles including the rhomboids, upper traps and posterior deltoid are hit hard by this amazing posterior chain pushup version.
Lastly, it’s not only possible to train your legs with a pushup but one variation in particular may be one of the best of any pushup you can do. This would be the glute/ham raise push-up. Here you are going to eccentrically contract the glutes and hamstrings to lower yourself to the ground and utilize the push to get yourself back up to the halfway point, at which point your glutes and hams can contract to power you back to the top.
The quads can also get in on the action with a more conditioning based variation called the rolling squat pushup or something more targeted to their prime action of extending the leg under load with the TKE pushup.
The fact is, this exercise can be much more than just a great chest, tricep and shoulder builder. Use some of the push-up variations shown here and see just how much more muscle growth you can get out of your body with just a single move. If you are looking for a comprehensive, step by step home workout program that requires no equipment at all, be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below and check out the ATHLEAN XERO program.
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