Three Killer Push Up Variations To Give You An Edge In Making Lean Muscle Gains

Three Killer Push Up Variations To Give You An Edge In Making Lean Muscle Gains

By: Brandon Richey, B.S.,CSCS

Owner: Brandon Richey Fitness LLC

One of the key elements I like to examine with a new trainee is how well, or how poorly that individual can perform a push up. This simple exercise is a valuable reference point for assessing an individual and will clearly point out to me a great number of details concerning a given trainee. The push up exercise will instantly show me if an individual is capable of stabilizing his or her body in order to maintain a satisfactory alignment of the neck, shoulders, and lumbar spine.


From The Basic To Advanced Push Up

Just by observing an individual statically holding themselves in an upright push up position I can determine whether or not they are able to produce sufficient tension and rigidity throughout their body. This is apparent by looking at how they hold their posture from their shoulders all the way down to their heels. Their body should resemble a bridge, or table in terms of how well they stabilize and maintain a solid line of tension for themselves before they even go about lowering their body towards the ground.

The standard push up is a very powerful drill. This is why the standard push up is such a key drill for transforming your body to acquire a high level of functional strength. It’s great for teaching a trainee how to go about acquiring serious results by placing the entire emphasis on function. Form always follows function, not the other way around.

Once a given trainee is able to perform the standard push up with a high level of proficiency then the beauty is that the push up exercise allows for some powerful variation in order to achieve higher levels of strength and function.


Gaining The Edge On Your Push Ups

Now regardless of what advanced variations you include with your push ups the focus of maintaining rigidity during more demanding variations is still the priority. One example to consider with this by adding to the challenge is to go out and purchase some glide discs and perform these glide disc push up variations on a turf, or carpeted floor to challenge yourself in an entirely different way.


As you can see here these glide push ups present an entirely different stress on the body. Looking at the video you’ll notice on my grounded hand I’m basically performing a single arm push up while the hand on the glide disc is having to stabilize the shoulder while moving to flexion. Once here I’m having to initiate a pulling action as I bring the disc back to position during the upward phase of the push up.

To start out perform 3 sets of 5 of these on each side at the end of one of your upper body days. It’s a great closer and you’ll quickly see just how challenging these can be. Trust me, they’re more challenging than you may think.

In addition to glide push ups I can compound my efforts by incorporating some additional variation by emphasizing some internal rotational movement at the shoulder. I can stress this and shoulder adduction by adding a dumbbell or kettlebell to the drill to perform some push up drags. Check these out.



Once again it doesn’t take much to significantly intensify the standard push up drill, but the standard push up must be mastered before moving on to such variations as demonstrated here! If you study the push up drags you’ll notice that I’m also being very strict about keeping my body rigid and not allowing my hips to turn out every time I pull the dumbbell across my body.

To start out try performing 3 sets of 5 or 6 of these on each side. Make sure you are pulling the weight with the hand that is on the same side (not pulling the weight across the body with the opposite hand).

Finally, another killer push up complex you can incorporate into your arsenal to further challenge yourself is performing my 5 hand position push up complex. To execute these start out with a close hand position (roughly thumbs distance), then go to a standard push up hand width, then a wide hand width, then a staggered hand position on one side, and finally the staggered hand position on the other side.

As you can see after performing each hand position you’ve essentially performed 5 different push ups, but these 5 only account for a single repetition here. Start out performing 3 sets of 3 to 5 of these and work up to doing more per set once you’ve mastered the drill.


In Closing

At the end of the day the power of variation is virtually endless. These are some real solid variations here for you to start learning, but the reality is you can keep progressing and moving way beyond what is demonstrated here in today’s article.

To learn more about Brandon Richey and his online coaching programs check him out at

If you’re interested in either getting Brandon’s Online Coaching program at a discounted rate, or ordering Cobrazol Sport for yourself and getting Brandon’s Online Coaching Program for Free then make sure you click here.


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