These 5 Push Up Variations Give You Enviably Toned Upper Body—Sans Weights (Video)

September 5, 2017

Have you ever noticed that your muscles feel especially tight and look more defined after doing certain exercises? That happens because after working a muscle out, it gets filled with blood and water to help repair the torn muscle fibers. Doing push ups is a quick and easy way to pump up the arm muscles. Push ups are also considered a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercises are important for maintaining and increasing bone density. If you’re anything like me and a basic push up does little to motivate you, try out these fun push up variations that will sculpt your arms and shoulders. These push up variations are effective for both immediate definition and full-body strengthening when done in your regular workouts. Work up to doing 10 reps of each variation and remember to keep your navel pulled into your back in any push-up you do.

1. Spider Man Push Up– Target your core and side body while strengthening the arms and shoulders. Start in a high plank position. As you bend your elbows to the sides to lower the body down, bring your left knee up to tap your left elbow. Bring your left leg back to the plank position as you straighten your arms. Repeat on the right side to complete one rep.

2. Push Up Rotation– This one is also a major core strengthener! Start in a high plank position with your shoulders over wrists and feet hip distance apart. Lower into a pushup and as you press back up, lift your left arm up to the sky while you rotate your entire body to the left. You will be in a side plank position with your body in a diagonal line. Your gaze can either be forward or up at your top hand. Reverse the movement to return both hands back to the ground. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep.

3. Down Dog Push Up– Get into a down dog position with your feet hip-distance apart and your forearms on the ground. Keep your elbows pointing straight back. Your heels will be lifted off the ground to start. Press your hands into the ground to straighten your arms and press the heels down to the ground. Lower your elbows back down with control. That is one rep.

4. Dive Bomber Push Up– Start in a down dog position with your feet shoulder distance apart. As you bend your elbows, transfer most of your weight to your hands and lead with your head as you lower to the ground. Try to barely scrape the ground with your nose before pushing forward and up. Look up towards the ceiling. Your hips are now lower than your chest and your shoulders are open. Transfer your weight back towards your feet to go back into your down dog position.

5. Plyometric Push Up– These are super challenging so you might want to start with your knees on the floor in a half plank position. Bend your elbows to lower your torso towards the ground for a push up. Keep your core tight and your hips forward as you push off the ground, trying to jump off your hands, catching some air before you land. Your knees stay on the ground at all times. Once you land back on your hands, immediately lower back down into another push up and repeat. If you want to try the advanced version, do the same thing but with your legs straight out in a full plank position.

Only have a few minutes before heading out in your favorite shoulder-baring outfit? Do these 5 push up variations to instantly tighten and sculpt your arms and shoulders. Which one is your favorite?

Also by Crystal: 4 Tension-Busting Hip Flexor Stretches You Need In Your Life

More upper body: 5 Exercises for Sexy, Sculpted Arms without Weights (Video)

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Video: Crystal Chin

Crystal Chin
Crystal is a professional dancer, writer and certified Pilates instructor based in Los Angeles. She inspires people to dance their true colors in life, never compromising their own self worth for any person, job or societal standard. She teaches her students about mindful movement and healthy living. When not writing, teaching, or dancing, she is learning all the beautiful life lessons her two dogs teach her just by their existence--forgiveness, being present and how to be unapologetically herself. Check out Crystal's blog at and follow her on Instagram crystalannchin, Twitter @CrystalAnnChin and Facebook.


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