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10 Push Up Variations And The Muscles They Work

Muscles Do Pushups Work

What Muscles Do Pushups Work - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Pushups are great for conditioning different muscle groups in your body.
  • You may wonder what muscles do pushups work? Pushups target several muscle groups.
  • The muscles used in pushups include the triceps, gluteus muscles, abdominis, among others.
  • There are 10 types of pushups you can try to build your upper and lower body muscles.

Introduction

The pushup workout is one of the most well-known and used exercises in the world. It is great for conditioning your body, and the best part is that it can be done anywhere, at any time, with no additional equipment. The traditional pushup that we are all taught from a young age is a great exercise; however, different variations of the pushup can target various muscle groups.

So what muscles do pushups work? A pushup would target your chest (pectoralis major), shoulders (anterior deltoid), triceps, and core. It acts on multiple areas of your upper body that is why it is such a staple in many workouts such as HIIT and yoga.

If you’ve been incorporating the traditional pushup all this time and want to try out something different to work new muscles, this article will guide you through 10 types of pushups you can include in your next workout.

10 Types Of Pushups

Ever wondered what muscles do pushups work? Want to try pushups that work? Why not try out one of these? Here are some proven exercises that can help you burn that stubborn belly fat quickly.

1. Military Pushup

This particular pushup form is used to emphasize the triceps by keeping your elbows tucked into your sides. The spacing between your hands will be narrower, which will generate more pressure on your tricep area.

How to do it:

  • Start with the standard pushup form or position. Feet together or less than 12 inches apart
  • Your hands need to be flat on the ground below your shoulders
  • As you bend, breathe in, and keep your elbows as close to your body as possible
  • You need to lower yourself until your chest is slightly below your bent elbow
  • As you push yourself back up, breathe out, and reset

The pushup muscles worked:

The military pushup will target the triceps, including the chest, deltoid, and core muscles[1]. Your abdominal, upper and lower back, and hip muscles will be engaged during each pushup.

2. Diamond Pushups

Diamond Pushups
Also known as triangle pushups, diamond pushups are more advanced versions of the classic pushup. The pushup form provides a workout for your upper and lower body, but it is most effective for your triceps. It is also known to help improve your core strength and balance by stabilizing your core muscles.

How to do it:

  • Start in a plank position with your hands angled inward at 45 degrees. Your index fingers and thumb have to touch and form a triangle
  • Your elbows need to remain tight to the side of your body while you lower your chest to the triangle
  • Go back up in the same position and reset. The triangle (hands) needs to be in the same position throughout the workout

The pushup muscles worked:

Because of the unique hand position of the diamond pushups, your triceps brachii is activated, helping to build your triceps. It also activates your chest muscles (pectoralis major), shoulder muscles (anterior deltoid), leg muscles (quadriceps), and your core (transverse abdominis).

3. Knee Pushups

If you’re new to working out and the classic pushup is difficult for you, this variation makes it easier to build up. This pushup is performed on your knees, thereby reducing the amount of bodyweight[2] you’re incorporating.

How to do it:

  • Get in the normal pushup position, but rest on your knees instead of your toes
  • Cross your feet and bend your elbows at a 60-degree angle until your chest is just above the ground
  • Hold for a bit, push yourself back up in the same way, and reset

The pushup muscles worked:

This pushup targets muscles in your upper body, including your triceps, pecs, and shoulders.

4. Decline Pushups

A decline variation of most workouts is always great to target different muscles you weren’t working on before. They offer more of a challenge when a classic pushup becomes too easy.

How to do it:

  • Start with a normal position, but your feet need to be elevated on a sturdy surface (chair or box)
  • Keep your back flat and bend your elbows at a 60-degree angle as you lower your chest
  • Keep your chest at just above ground level for a couple of seconds and then reset

The pushup muscles worked:

With this pushup form, you are targeting your pectoral muscles (chest muscles, triceps, and back), front deltoids (upper arms and shoulders), upper back (trapezius, serratus), and core muscles.

5. Pike Pushup

Pike Pushup

If you’ve ever done yoga, then this pushup would remind you of the downward dog[3]. It could boost shoulder strength and fire up your core.

How to do it:

  • Start with your normal pushup position with your toes planted firmly on the ground
  • Lift your hips and back until your body forms an inverted V-position
  • With your arms as straight as possible, lower your entire body
  • Stop when your head nearly touches the ground and then repeat

The pushup muscles worked:

The primary muscle group worked is the deltoids, both the front and sides. The triceps, core, and upper chest muscles are activated as well.

6. Staggered Hands Pushups

These pushups are great for building strength, endurance, and stability. It utilizes your core and upper body strength, making it an advanced pushup form.

How to do it:

  • Start with a normal position, but move one hand forward, keeping about 10 inches of space between them
  • Lower your chest until it is slightly below your bent elbow
  • Push back up to the normal position, switch hands, and then repeat

The pushup muscles worked:

It targets the anterior and medial deltoid muscles, pectoralis major and minor muscles, triceps, and gluteus maximus muscle.

7. Single-Leg Pushup

This is one of the more challenging variations of the traditional pushup. It will help you build stability as every muscle you are using must be able to fire up to lift off the ground.

How to do it:

  • Start with a normal position, keep your neck straight, and lift your right leg off the floor
  • Lower your body to the ground while keeping the leg elevated in a straight line
  • Push yourself back up, switch your leg, and then repeat

The pushup muscles worked:

With this pushup, you are targeting your lower pectoralis major muscles, iliopsoas (inner hip), and obliques (abdominal).

8. Clap Pushup

Clap Pushup
This pushup is mostly used to train your explosiveness and improve your core and strength.

How to do it:

  • Get into the plank position, keeping your core engaged with a flat back
  • Once you lower yourself down, explosively push yourself upwards, lifting your hands off the ground and clapping once quickly.
  • Catch yourself before you fall flat, and then reset

The pushup muscles worked:

Clap pushups can help strengthen your upper body, including the muscles in your chest, abdominals, triceps, and shoulders.

9. Spiderman Pushup

Once you have perfected the normal pushup, the spiderman pushup can help you further improve your core and obliques as well as your lower body hips and quadriceps.

How to do it:

  • From a normal pushup position, start to lower yourself to the ground
  • As you go down, bring one knee to the side and touch your elbow
  • The knee should touch the elbow at the lowest point of the pushup
  • Go back to the initial position and repeat with the other knee

The pushup muscles worked:

This pushup will target your chest, triceps, and shoulders. It specifically helps with the rectus abdominis, obliques, core stabilizers, hip flexors, and quadriceps.

10. Archer Pushup

This is an advanced pushup variation to help build strength in your back and arms. It will also help you perform more advanced single-arm pushups.

How to do it:

  • In a normal pushup position, keep your hands angled at 45-degree angles
  • Lower your body at an angle on one side so that your shoulder reaches down to the hand of the same side
  • At the same time, stretch out your other arm until it is fully extended
  • Push back up, switch sides, and repeat

The pushup muscles worked:

This works on multiple muscle groups throughout your upper body, including the anterior deltoids (shoulders), the pectoral muscles (chest), and the triceps.

Final Advice

If you were ever wondering what muscles do pushups work with, we hope you now have an answer as well as a horde of new variations to incorporate into your next workout routine. Try them out to help burn the flab and get in shape!

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