These press up variations are designed to increase the level of difficulty of the exercise as well as allow the individual to incorporate more specific press up exercises into their routines. If you are reasonably new to personal fitness or wish to study a more general and basic press up technique read 10 Press Up Progressions to get you started.
10 Press Up Variations
Incline Press Up – Preparation for handstand press up, gradually increasing the incline at which the body performs the movement, thus gradually exerting more pressure on the arms as more body-weight is placed above the hands. An old fashioned set of wall bars are perfect for this as it allows gradual intervals to place your feet but a normal gym or house wall will work.
Handstand / vertical press up– Ultimately performed free standing, the handstand press up is the body-weight equivalent of the military press and highly difficult, requiring huge amounts of balance and strength. To begin with use a wall to lean against or the support of two friendly gym goers to keep you on your hands and off your head.
Knee Touch Press Up – Perfect for hitting the abdominals, Begin in a standard press up position then as you lower your upper body bring your right knee to touch your elbow. As you press up straighten your leg. Repeat immediately with your left knee.
Rock-backs – Increase the demand on the arm triceps by rocking back onto your forearms at the base of the press up before returning to front support. Remember to keep your bottom squeezed and stomach off the floor.
Guillotine Press Up – Can sometimes be referred to as Deep press ups. These are press ups performed so that the chest and head go beyond the level of the hands, stretching the shoulder muscles and increasing range of movement. Commonly performed with medicine balls but can be done using anything that provides two equally high, sturdy platforms. Place your hands upon the objects and lower past the level of the hands keeping your head up and eyes looking straight ahead.
Fingertip Push ups – These are popular amongst rock-climbers and used to strengthen the tendons in the hand, increasing a person’s grip strength.
Knuckle Push ups – Also known as ‘the boxers push up’, as they are sometimes performed with the boxing gloves still on, are used to strengthen the wrist and build calluses in the knuckles.
Back of the hand – This press up is performed by reversing the hands so the fingers face inwards and the back of the hand rests against the floor. Developing wrist strength and working the forearms it is very popular amongst martial arts students.
Uneven Press ups – Are performed with one hand elevated. Grab a dumbbell or the nearest copy of the Oxford dictionary, anything sturdy enough to hold your weight throughout the movement. Remember to alternate arms and perform equal numbers of repetitions on each.
One handed Press Ups – Famously brought to the screen by ‘Rock Balboa’ the one-handed press up is the quintessential benchmark for fitness and strength. Done correctly they will increase balance and intensify the press up. It is important that the technique is not sacrificed, split the feet for stability, keeping your body weight above the hand perform the press up with a straight body not allowing the hips to dip.
Add these variations into your exercise routines to build strength and specific muscle endurance yet remember for all of these variations technique is very important. Don’t be tempted to sacrifice the correct technique for higher levels of difficulty. Unless otherwise stated keep your body straight from the shoulders to the feet and perform the movement slowly and thoroughly. As with any demanding exercise make sure a proper warm up is done, loosening the arms, wrists and shoulder muscles especially. Pay particular attention to loosening the wrists when performing the Knuckle, Fingertip or Back of the Hand press ups.
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