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Are there some push-up variations I can do to work the biceps or shoulder muscles? Illustrations or pictures would be appreciated as well.

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Livestrong.com has a great article about variations in push ups:

  • Regular push-ups

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  • Plyometric push-ups, the goal is to push yourself off the ground to develop power. Careful, it's tough on the wrists

enter image description here

  • Diamong push-ups, involves making a diamond shape with both hands. Pushing up like this focuses on the triceps.

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  • Deficit push-ups, means putting your hand on some elevation and lower your chest below the level of your hands.

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  • Fist push-ups aka Knuckle push-ups, To increase wrist strength. They're also a healthy alternative if doing 'regular' push-ups causes wrist pain. Just be sure to do them on a soft surface (like a mat or folded towel).

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To work your shoulders you can increase the elevation of your feet. If you can, you could do handstand pushups against a wall.

Push-ups do not really target biceps. You probably want pullups for that.


  • Reverse push-ups, are a combination of a pull-up and a push-up in a hanging position.

These probably aren't really push-ups in the traditional sense. They're more like a hybrid between a push-up and a pull-up. They have the benefits of a push-up as in they target your core, chest, and shoulders. With the added benefit of a pull-up because they also target your upper back, lats, and biceps.

Decline Reverse push-up using a swiss ball

Source: ultimateclimbing.com

Note: Using a swiss ball to increase resistance (difficulty) is completely optional (and pretty hard core), it's only included here for lack of a better picture that demonstrated the full movement.

Reverse push-up knees bent

Source: bodyrock.tv

An easier variation is to do them with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.


There are many more variations, but these should keep you busy for a while!

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@Megasaur, care to summarize the different variations mentioned in the LiveStrong article? Then other users can see that your answer is a pretty definitive answer :-) –  Ivo Flipse Mar 26 '11 at 1:21
    
Thanks, that's a great article. As far as the biceps, I was afraid of that, but I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some strange bicep push-up I'd never heard of before. –  Samuel Andrew Mar 26 '11 at 1:39
    
Feel free to edit it in @Evan, sounds like a nice addition –  Ivo Flipse Mar 26 '11 at 12:00
    
@Ivo nice pic btw –  Evan Plaice Mar 26 '11 at 12:46
    
@Samuel Andrew - there are in fact variations you can do, see my answer. The triceps and biceps are antagonistic pairs which means when one contracts, the other relaxes and vice versa. So working out one, does work out the other although the "work" may be perceived as minimal. –  Rhea Mar 28 '11 at 2:50
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I'm a big fan of Exrx site, you can browse this site based on which muscles and which body weight form to work.

Are there some push-up variations I can do to work the biceps or shoulder muscles? Illustrations or pictures would be appreciated as well.

I'll summarize some exercises to work the shoulder muscles here based on both of my favourite sites:

Handstand push ups

Handstand push ups

Pike Press

Pike Press

Decline Pike Press

Decline Pike Press

And some exercises to work the biceps here:

Let me ins

Let me ins

Let me ups

Let me ups

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I am a big fan of fingertip pushups:

enter image description here

They seem to build the biceps more than standard pushups, and they build hand, finger, and forearm strength as well.

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There sure are, check out this article - 7 Muscle Targetting Push Up Variations

Push Up Variation #4: Biceps

You’re probably thinking that traditional push ups work your biceps just fine, and you’d be right. They do. But they tend to get a little stale after a few days and you forget to maintain the integrity of the moves, losing nearly all the effectiveness of doing push ups in the first place.

Do side tap push ups by starting in push up position. Perform the same motion as in traditional push ups, but when you come up tap the side of your thigh your left hand before you come down again. On your next trip up, tap your right thigh with your right hand before lowering yourself down again.

Push Up Variation #6: Stability & Shoulders

This next push up variation is tricky, but if done correctly you will improve your posture, grip strength, shoulders and midsection. You’ll need a barbell with weights on it, particularly the kind of barbell that rolls if you don’t perform the moves properly.

Wrap your hands around the barbell in classic push up starting position, balancing on your hands and toes. Slowly lower yourself down to the bar and then push yourself up, remembering to breathe throughout. It’s important that you focus on performing this move properly rather than just finishing them because one accidental sleep and your friends will be callin’ you Toothless Joe! enter image description here

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