All the different types of pushups you can do (and why you should do them)
Photo by Kamaji Ogino from Pexels
Pushups are an incredible addition to almost any fitness plan. That’s because they can be done from anywhere, using nothing but your own body weight. And while the countless pushup variations out there can seem tricky, their benefits make them all worth it.
Whether you’re traveling for work or just want to get a quick workout in, these exercises are a superb way to enhance your fitness routine, wherever you are.
Below, we’ll cover seven different types of pushups, which muscle groups they target, and how to do each of them with proper form.
1. Basic Pushup
The basic pushup allows you to reap all the upper body and core strengthening benefits of pushups while keeping things simple. To do these, all you need is a floor and your body weight.
Follow these steps to achieve a basic pushup:
- Start on the ground on all fours.
- Shift to a high plank position, placing your hands a smidgen wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your core tight, lower your body until you almost reach the floor.
- Push your body back up and repeat as many times as you wish.
2. Wall Pushup
For beginners, floor pushups can sometimes be too challenging. Fortunately, you can start with a wall pushup instead. This variation is a perfect beginner pushup that can help you prepare for the traditional or advanced pushup types later on.
Because you’ll be standing up, you won’t have to push the entire weight of your body up against gravity. This bodyweight exercise only requires a sturdy wall and targets your upper body, back, abs, and hip muscles.
To do a wall pushup:
- Stand an arm’s length away from a wall of your choice.
- Place your hands on the wall.
- Slowly bring your chest towards the wall while keeping your core engaged.
- Push yourself back and repeat.
3. Mountain Climber
The mountain climber is a full-body exercise that can leave anyone seriously out of breath with enough reps — you might remember this one from high school gym class. It might not seem like much, but the mountain climber has some of the most beneficial bodyweight movements you can do. The mountain climber targets the shoulders, legs, core, quads, and arms.
Here’s how to do a mountain climber:
- Move into a high plank position, supporting your body with your hands and the tips of your toes.
- Bring your knee to your chest as quickly as you can, alternating knees with each rep.
- Repeat as many times as you wish.
4. Pushup Dive Bomber
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can have some fun trying out different types of pushups, like the pushup dive bomber. This exercise targets your upper body and core.
Follow these steps to do a pushup dive bomber:
- Start in an inverted “V” position (similar to the downward dog yoga pose.) Keep your arms and legs straight, but don’t lock your knees.
- Make sure your heels are lifted and stay on your toes.
- Lower your hips but keep your legs straight as you “dive” into a pushup position. (Tip: Make sure not to flare out your elbows.)
- Once you reach the pushup position, curve your back upwards and hold for a desired amount of time. You should try to do all these steps in a fluid movement.
- Reverse direction and push back into the inverted “V” starting pose.
- Repeat as many times as you like.
5. Mountain Pushup
This pushup variation requires only your body weight and is an excellent way to strengthen your shoulders, chest, and core.
Here’s how to do a mountain pushup:
- Starting in an upside-down “V” position, widen your arms and get on your toes.
- Lower your upper body, so your head reaches toward the floor.
- Pause and push up slowly for as many repetitions as you wish.
6. Pushup With Exercise Ball
Exercise balls can add a challenging twist to standard pushups. Since you’ll be leaning on an unstable ball instead of the ground, your arms and abs will be working especially hard to hold your body steady.
Here are the steps to do a pushup with an exercise ball:
- Hold yourself in a pushup position with your arms straightened and your hands placed on an exercise ball. The more inflated the ball, the more difficult this exercise will be.
- Lower yourself down, then push up. Take a second to pause at the top of the movement.
- Repeat as many times as you wish.
7. Dumbbell Pushups
To do a dumbbell pushup, the only extra equipment you’ll need is a set of dumbbells. This pushup variation is best for targeting your pecs and chest. Beyond that, this exercise targets your triceps, shoulders, and core.
To achieve a dumbbell pushup, follow these steps:
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and space them a bit more than shoulder-width apart.
- With your palms facing toward one another, grab the dumbbells and get into the pushup position.
- With your core straight, lower your chest close to the floor, pause, and push back up.
- Repeat as many times as needed to feel the burn.
How to Improve All Your Pushup Variations
All types of pushups can be challenging, especially when you’re new to the fitness world. But truth be told, they’re one of the most powerful bodyweight movements you can do. Once you perfect the beginner pushups, you can move onto the more advanced variations — such as the ones using dumbbells or exercise balls — to get even stronger.
If you’re searching for more ways to boost your wellness routine, there are virtual fitness apps that can help. MyLifeWell, for example, offers challenges, on-demand classes, and one-on-one training to help you improve all areas of your fitness, including your pushup routine.
You can do pushup challenges or even check out some of the 50+ pushup variations on the app to strengthen your upper body even more. Best of all, you can sign up for a free three-month trial period to get started.
Claim your free trial or learn more about how we can help you ramp up your fitness routine today.