The push-up is commonly associated with military conditioning, gym class, and some martial arts. For many, they can be unexciting, feel impossible or even gruesome. Hopefully, though, after reading this you will incorporate this versatile and efficient exercise into your workout routine!

Push-ups are categorized as a calisthenic exercise performed prone (face down), during which the body is raised and lowered with the arms. Push-ups use many muscles, making it a great exercise to do regularly. Push-ups use your pectoral muscles, triceps, and other muscles of the shoulder area such as anterior deltoids, serrates anterior, and coracobrachialis. Push-ups also use core muscles, such as your transverses abdominis and rectus abdominis, and help with core stability. (Need something for the lower body? We’ve got you covered here.)

There are many varieties of push-ups – some are better for beginners, and some for more advanced levels. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 types and their benefits so you can find the ones that work best for you!

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Standard Push-Ups

Get into plank position with your hands under your shoulders, engage your core and keep your chest lifted and eyes gazing out in front of you so that your spine stays in a neutral position.

Bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor with your inhale, then push up with control and exhale as you rise back to a neutral position. Don’t let your backside dip or stick up, your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe.

Draw your shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows tucked close to your body. It’s important to practice good form consistently to avoid injury and yield greater results.

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Modified Push-Ups

These pushups are great for beginners; they are performed by supporting the lower body on the knees instead of the toes.



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The Wide Push-Up

Start from a normal push-up position but spread your hands wider than shoulder length. This will force your chest to do most of the work.



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The Narrow Push-Up

From a normal push-up position, place your hands just a few inches apart from each other underneath your chest.



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The Diamond Push-Up

For these push-ups, place both palms on the ground so that both thumbs and pointer fingers are touching and form a diamond. These push-ups really work your triceps!


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The One-Leg Push-Up

From the standard push-up position lift one leg up off the ground and do a set, switch legs to complete the set. Be sure to engage your core to help you stay in position!


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The One-Arm Push-Up

Get into position and bring one arm behind your back or to your side and complete the movement, switch arms and complete the set. These are a great challenge!



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The Feet Elevated Push-Up

Do a normal push-up, but with your feet elevated on a box or bench. The higher the platform, the more you’ll work your shoulders, chest, and core. For more challenge, use an exercise ball.


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The Body-Elevated Push-Up

Performed with hands on an elevated platform, commonly seen with medicine balls. For an even more advanced exercise, you can also elevate the feet.


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The Wall Push-Up

Another great variation of a push-up for someone new to exercise or lacking the upper body strength for a standard push-up. These are performed by standing close to a wall and then pushing away from the wall. Increase the difficulty by moving your feet farther from the wall.


Fun Facts About Push-Ups:

  • In most forms of push-ups, you are lifting 65% of your body weight
  • The record for the most consecutive push-ups is 10,507 by Minoru Yoshida of Japan in 1980.
  • Push-ups dates back to 1905
  • The record for the most push-ups done in 24 hours (non-consecutively) is 46,001 by Charles Servizio of the USA in 1993.
  • The Fence Lizard demonstrates push-ups to attract its reptilian mates

Photo demonstrations are courtesy of Jose Rodriguez. For more push-up ideas or to schedule a one-on-one personal training session with Jessica, email her at To schedule a consultation with Jose Rodriguez (pictured), email him at!

Post written by FFC West Loop Personal Trainer Jessica Frank.


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