Are there other types of push-ups I can add to my workouts?

July 21, 2012

Q: I have heard there are many different types of push-ups out there, but I’m only familiar with the classic version. Can you explain a couple other types I can include in my workouts?

A: The push-up is a classic exercise that’s stood the test of time for two main reasons. First of all, push-ups provide a great workout for a variety of muscle groups in one simple movement. Secondly, push-ups can be done just about anywhere as long as you can find a little space on a floor, sidewalk, street or dirt patch. The only problem is that it gets a little boring doing the same old version you were taught in middle school gym class. It doesn’t have to be that way, because there are countless variations of the classic push-up you can try as long as you don’t mind stepping out of your comfort zone. Here are five good examples to get you started.

Dive bomber push-up

The dive bomber push-up gets its name from the angle at which a plane would dive down and strafe across the ground as it sends bombs to their target. To perform this type of push-up, get on all fours, but instead of positioning your body parallel to the floor, put your hands and feet closer together, with your butt pointed up in the air and your head pointed at the floor. Now glide - dive bomb - your body toward the ground, and when your face is finally an inch above the floor, push your body forward until your arms can go no farther and your elbows are pressed tightly to your sides. Hold the position for a split second and reverse the process until you are back to the starting position.

Reverse push-up

Start this movement in the traditional push-up position with your hands and feet on the floor and your body parallel to the ground. Bend your elbows until your chest almost touches the ground and then push your torso backward toward your hips until your butt is pointed toward the ceiling and your body is in the shape of the letter V. Pause for a split second and then push your upper body back to the traditional push-up position and repeat until the desired amount of reps is complete. This exercise is the exact opposite movement of the dive bomber push-up, so once you master one, the other should be a piece of cake.

Medicine ball push-ups

To try this version, get in the same position as the chest touching push-up but put one hand on the floor and elevate the other on top of a medicine ball. Slowly lower your body until one side of your chest touches the floor. This version is much harder because your body is uneven, forcing one side to work harder than the other. When you finish, switch hands and do the same amount of reps for the opposite side.

Close grip push-up

The close grip push-up is the closest push-up mentioned in this article to the traditional push-up, with the exception of arm placement. To give this one a try, assume the push-up position with your hands and toes touching the floor, but instead of placing your arms shoulder width apart, bring elbows in tight to your body until they are snug against your sides and your hands are parallel to your sternum. Slowly lower your body to the ground and push back up to the starting position.

Push-up with dumbbell row

The push-up/row is a hybrid exercise that combines a classic push-up with a dumbbell row, making it a very effective tool for ramping up the intensity of your workout while challenging core strength, balance and coordination. Caution: this exercise works best with hexagon-shaped dumbbells because the flat edges on the dumbbell allow for better stability and take the pressure off the wrists to protect from injury. To try this exercise, get in the push-up position with a dumbbell in each hand, descend until your chest touches the floor, push back to the starting position and then slowly row each dumbbell one at a time to the side of your body. Once you have completed all of the above, continue for the desired amount of reps or until you’re so fatigued you can’t do any more.

The next time you go to do a traditional push-up, remember there are many other variations out there, so step out of your comfort zone and try something different.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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