Up Your Push-Up Game With These Progressions & Challengers by Mike Wang
Let’s face it: pushups can get boring. Especially when our home workouts call for endless pushups (looking at you AMRAP/HITT workouts). Luckily, you can amp up the regular pushup with different variations to continually create new challenges for yourself. Below, you’ll find 4 ways to progress your pushup game, and your strength, to new levels.
Before you incorporate these progressions into your routine, make sure you can confidently and comfortably perform a regular pushup (check out our guide to perfecting your pushup) . If you can perform 8-10 consecutive regular pushups, you’ll be strong enough to start these progressions.
Also known as an eccentric pushup, slowing down your pushup will make every step of the exercise more difficult. The eccentric (lowering) motion of the pushup can help you become more comfortable with carrying your own weight throughout this and other exercises. Try this variant in our workout with Jason Gonzalez.
Working the opposite end of the exercises, explosive push ups emphasize the push work. To complete this progression, accelerate your push away from the ground. As you become more comfortable with this progression, you can start adding some lift as you push away (or if you’re really confident, add in a clap when you’re in the air!). Try this variant in our workout with JJ Peterson.
Elevating your feet (relative to your hands) will shift weight from your feet to your hands, making the pushup incrementally harder. More elevation = more work. My personal favorite way to elevate my feet is using the steps on a staircase. When I can’t do a full set on one of the steps, I’ll just lower to the next step/to a normal pushup on the floor. But feel free to start with even smaller increments (like a book under each foot!).
Widening and narrowing your hand placement on the floor will help you target different muscles. If you want to target your outer chest, widen your hand placement. Narrowing your hand placement will target your inner chest and triceps. Doing a mix of these two variations will allow you to engage your upper body in a targeted, meaningful way.
Armed with these pushup progressions, you’ll be able to make any bodyweight workout that calls for pushups harder. Checks out our awesome workouts that like this quick HITT workout and this Chest Pump Up and try these progressions out!
Mike Wang is a lover of all things fitness. He is an avid backpacker, former varsity rower, and weekend warrior. As a self-proclaimed hype-man, he strives to elevate everyone around him. To see more from Mike, follow him on Instagram: @mikewwang