By Brandon Richey
I got so much awesome feedback on my first article—5 Killer Push-Up Variations to Upgrade Your Functional Fitness—I’m writing a follow-up one with another 5 of my favorite push-up variations.
I’m sure you can agree that the push-up is one of the most powerful movements you can do to benefit your fitness level. It’s why you find it in every neighborhood box gym, military fitness program and chain gym across the globe.
But the standard push-up can get boring once you’ve become proficient at it. That’s why I move my students on to these variations (as well as the ones in the article above).
Dive Bomber Push-Up
As you likely know, in order to keep generating momentum for gains in your training, optimizing the function of your body means that you’ve got to get creative in moving in different ways.
A great way to do that with push-ups is the Dive-Bomber. Not only does it force your body to move very differently from a standard push-up, it also helps to open your shoulders while simultaneously strengthening not just your core, but your arms and legs as well.
The dive bomber push-up is performed by you getting into the yoga Downward Dog pose with your hips pointing to the sky. From this position you want to dive towards the ground head first and perform a swooping motion as if you’re diving underneath a fence post.
The final position is identical to yoga’s Upward Dog—you’re posed on your toes with your legs off the ground.
Once you’ve swooped under the fence post you want to track your body back in reverse in the same exact path swooping your body back into the upright downward dog position.
By doing this reverse motion, you’ll basically be performing a ground based shoulder press to get your body back into the start position to prepare for the next repetition.
Walk Out Push-Up
This is another excellent variation to create shoulder mobility and core stability.
This push-up is performed by you settling into a squat from the standing position and placing your hands on the ground in order to walk out on your hands extending your body into an upright push-up position.
The key to this movement is at your main point of contact which is your hands.
As you walk out on your hands you want to move with intention feeling the ground beneath your hands and activating the muscles in your wrists, forearms, and upper arms as you perform the walkout.
Once you have fully extended your body, you want to perform a standard push-up before walking back to stand up out of the squat position.
This bodyweight movement requires some coordination and skill, but if you practice regularly you’ll get the hang of the movement.
To perform this push-up you want to get into the upright standard push-up position and stagger your hands.
Start by staggering your right hand behind your left. At the same time bring your right knee up to your right elbow by flexing your knee.
Once in this position perform a push-up and simply walk your hands to stagger on the left side to do the same thing.
Once you start this pattern, you’ll be performing push-ups and walking along the ground like Spiderman on the rooftop of a building.
This is a great movement to combat shoulder and neck pain, and is one I have my fighters perform, due to the fact they spend a lot of time throwing punches.
This can potentially lead to what is referred to as pattern overload (carpel tunnel syndrome is an example of this).
You can develop this with any movement where your upper body is continually performing the same movement over and over, not allowing for any oppositional movement that creates balance.
The rotational push-up is a great way to break out of this pattern, especially if you’re experiencing shoulder and neck pain—even if it’s coming from sitting at a desk and working a keyboard all day long.
To perform this movement, you want to perform a standard push-up and simply lift one hand off of the ground to rotate your body so that your hand points towards the sky.
From here, simply return to the push-up position to perform a subsequent push-up and rotate with the opposite hand.
5) Fingertip Push-Up
Having a strong grip and powerful hands is essential for grappling and being able to handle your opponent. The only way you’ll be able to do this is by having a powerful grip.
Of course, you can train to build a strong grip through your traditional farmer’s carries and rope climbs, but another way to build strong hands, fingers, and forearms for a more powerful grip is by doing fingertip push-ups.
Fingertip push-ups will train all the same muscles that are involved with your standard push-ups except for the fact that by doing them on your fingertips you’re going to build tremendous forearm strength.
If you’re unable to perform fingertip push-ups on the ground you can do them off the side of a bench, or box to redistribute more weight to your feet until you can make the transition back to the ground for the more intense variation.
As you can see, these push-ups are very challenging and will definitely push your training to the next level, whether you’re working out in your home for overall fitness and health, or are training for something more specific like a military PST or an MMA fight.
The more you challenge yourself with your fitness goals, the better and quicker your gains will be.
What push-ups are you currently using in your strength program?
Are you performing any of the push-ups mentioned here?
Post up in the comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEALgrinderPT coach Brandon Richey is a certified strength and conditioning coach, author, and founder of Brandon Richey Fitness.
He has worked with thousands of athletes over his 17 years of experience, developing fitness training programs for beginners to professional and D-1 level collegiate athletes at the University of Georgia.
He also trains MMA and Muay Thai athletes, both professional and amateur.
QUESTION: Coach, I want to get to more advanced push-ups, but I’m really new to working out. How can I get better at the basic version first?
ANSWER: Check out this article—3 Tips to Improve Push-Ups for Beginners.
QUESTION: Got any more push-up workouts you could suggest?
ANSWER: Yes; check out the Hershel Walker Push-Up Workout.
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