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A Dad’s Guide to Reinventing The Classic Push-Up

Bored of the old drop and give us 10? Discover 20 versions of the standard move you haven’t tried yet.

A push up workout forms the basis of virtually every strength-training workout routine, from the U.S. Army’s daily regimen to the trendy Barry’s Bootcamp. With good reason. Learning how to do push ups effectively means working more muscle groups than just about any other exercise.

But it’s boring. So let’s reinvent the wheel! Here are 20 variations on the classic push up—guaranteed to put some zest back into burpees. Each move has muscle-building, fat-burning credentials. None have the snooze factor that you dread. Now, drop and give us 10. Reps, that is.

Wall Style

If it’s been a while since you tried a push up, start slowly by standing arm’s length from a wall. Place your hands against the flat surface of the wall at chest height, bend your elbows, and slowly lean into the wall, keeping your body in one long, straight line. Return to upright.

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Bent Knees

Once you’ve mastered the wall dips, move on to moderated push-ups from your knees. Keep your back straight and hips in line (don’t stick your butt out) for the best workout.


Do a standard push-up, but from the bent-elbow, contracted position, push off your hands and clap them together before returning to the start position.

Spread Eagle

Position your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and spread your hands as well. Push-ups from this position engage core muscles more intensely—just be sure not to hyper-extend your back.

Staggered Hands

Give each side of your back a slightly better workout by performing 10 pushups with your left hand staggered in front of your right, then switching positions.


Start with hands slightly wide than usual. As you drop toward the floor, shift your weight to one side so that one elbow bends significantly more than the other. Return to a neutral stance in the extended position, then shift to the opposite side on the next push-up, effectively creating a triangle between the peak (extended arms) and two points (left and right lowered positions).

One Arm

You probably won’t be able to sink as deeply into the push-up position this way, but performing a one-arm push-up is the ultimate arm and chest strengthener.

One Leg

Lift your right leg slightly off the floor behind you as you sink into the bent-elbow position. You can either return your leg to the floor once you extend your arms or keep it up for an entire set of 10. Switch legs.


Do a push-up. As you return to the arms-extended position, hike hips toward the ceiling to create an inverted V. Slowly lower back down. Repeat between each push-up.

Plank Push-Ups

Get into a plank position so you are resting on your elbows, legs straight, body lifted off the ground. Keeping your back straight, allow your chest to sink between your shoulder blades, then raise it again away from the floor. The movement will be subtle but this is a strong upper-back exercise.

Side Push-Ups

Start in an extended position on the right side, chest and legs facing forward so your front is perpendicular to the floor. Drop your right hip toward the floor. Try not to twist your upper body. Raise hip and return to a straight line. Repeat on other side.

The Diamond

Give your triceps an extra bit of burn by starting with your hands together below your chest, thumbs and index fingers touching to form a diamond shape. Bend and straighten arms as usual.


In this version, do a classic push-up but bend your elbows and drop to the floor at a slow speed (count to 10), then explode up into the extend position in a single count. Repeat.


Flip the rhythm on the above version, and drop to the floor in a single count, then slowly push-up to the extended position for the count of 10. Repeat.


In this variation, perform a standard push-up, but as you push-up from the floor, take a step sideways with one arm and leg, bringing your other arm and leg over once in the extended position. Repeat the sequence as you gradually walk your way sideways across the floor; repeat going back the other direction. 


From the extended-arm position, lift one leg off the ground, bend knee, and hike it to one side as you bend down into the pushup (like Spiderman scaling a wall). Straighten on the return.

Mountain climber

Similar to Spiderman, except instead of hiking one leg to the side you raise the bent knee under you toward your chest instead.

The Twist

From extended position, tuck right knee beneath you and twist it toward left shoulder as you bend arms. Return to starting position. Next push-up, left knee to right shoulder.

Soup Cans

Just as it sounds, perform your traditional push-up using soup cans or dumbbells to slightly elevate hands off the floor, strengthening your wrists and lower-arm muscles.

Hip Dips

As you sink into the bent-elbow position, twist from the hips so one side skims the ground. Return to neutral in the extended position; repeat on opposite side.