Push-ups are a great way to build upper body strength. However, you may come to a point (or already be there) where regular push-ups aren't as difficult as they used to be.
What can you do when this happens?
To intensify this exercise and continue to challenge you, we offer 5 simple modifications that will help you make basic push-ups much more difficult!
All right, let's go.
#1.CHANGE YOUR HAND POSITION
The easiest way to make your push-ups harder is to change the position of your hands. By changing the position of your hands, you'll work your muscles a little differently than you're used to.
Here are some examples of how to do this:
- Diamond pumps
Touch your hands together so that they form a "diamond" on the floor. This is a great option for activating the triceps.
- Offset hand push-ups
Keep one hand in the normal push-up position, and move one hand down, closer to your stomach. It's actually educational for one-handed push-ups and it's also an effective way to make them much harder.
- Increased range of motion for push-ups
Hold on to something like flat barbell dumbbells. This will help keep your hands and wrists aligned, which is great for strengthening wrists. Also, by keeping your hands on the handles, you'll be able to achieve a greater range of motion for each rep. Again, this makes repetitions more difficult.
#2. CHANGE YOUR CENTER OF GRAVITY
The best way to change your center of gravity here is to raise your legs. The higher you raise your legs, the more difficult the push becomes. The most difficult version of this operation ends with a push on the hand rest.
However, you certainly don't need to raise your legs to balance to experience the benefits of this method. Besides handstand push-ups, there are other methods to achieve this:
- Walk with your feet halfway up a wall
- Put your feet on a small box or bench
- Ask a training partner to hold your legs on their shoulders
#3. REMOVE A MEMBER (OR TWO)
Another simple way to make the push-up more difficult is to remove one or two limbs. Here are some examples of how to do this, in order of increasing difficulty:
- Lift one leg and do push-ups with both hands and one leg on the floor
- Raise one hand and do push-ups with both legs and one hand on the floor
- Raise one opposite arm and one leg and do push-ups with one leg and one hand on the floor
Note: One-arm push-ups, and certainly one-arm or one-leg push-ups, are very difficult. However, these variations teach you serious upper body control and are excellent for building upper body strength using only your weight.
#4. SLOW REPETITIONS
Slowing reps is also called time under tension. As the name suggests here, with slow reps, you go... well, slowly.
Here are some examples of how to do this with push-ups:
-A fifteen-second push-up
Take 5 seconds to descend, pause above ground for 5 seconds, take 5 seconds to ascend to starting position
-A thirty-second pump
Descend in 10 seconds, pause 10 seconds above the ground, ascend in 10 seconds to the starting position
- Sixty-second pump
20 second descent, 20 second pause above ground, 20 second ascent to starting position
Note: If you can do sixty-second pushups with ease, you're strong.
Finally, another great way to make push-ups harder is to combine the techniques listed above. For example, there's nothing wrong with trying to do a slow fifteen-second one-handed push-up. It would be difficult, but it's definitely doable!
Another example of mix-n-matching elements is lifting one leg off a wall in order to do freehand pushups with less support.
Or, if you really want to go all out, you can try hand push-ups. Not only are you changing your center of gravity, but you are removing two limbs (legs). A stand-alone push up on the hands is definitely one of the most difficult variations to try.
We've covered a lot of ground in this article, but as you can see, there are plenty of ways to make push-ups harder and more interesting.
You can use the techniques we've talked about here as guidelines, but it's about being creative and trying them out. Challenge yourself to practice the variations and become a master of this exercise.