Press Up Variations

press up variations

Press Up Variations:

Press ups are one of the best body weight exercises.

They work the chest, shoulders, tricep and core muscles.

Press ups don’t require any equipment other than your own body.

This makes them ideal for at home training and times when you don’t have access to the gym.


We all know how to perform a regular press up, but adding these press up variations to your training will allow you to work additional muscles.

These variations will allow you to put additional emphasis on certain muscles.

They will also allow you to improve your forearm, upper back and hand grip strength.

Here are the variations:


Wide grip press ups:

Place your hands slightly wider apart than usual.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together on the down movement.

This will allow you to work the upper back and rear shoulders.


Close grip press ups:

Place your hands slightly closer together than usual.

Try to make a triangle or diamond shape with your hands.

Close grip press ups will place extra tension on the chest and tricep muscles.


Raised leg press ups:

Place your feet on a bed, settee or table to change the angle of your press ups.

This will place extra tension on the shoulder muscles.

The higher you raise your legs, the more the shoulder muscles will be worked.


Climber’s press ups:

Use a regular press up start position, but balance your weight on your five fingers instead of your whole palms.

This challenging variation will increase your hand, grip and forearm strength.

If you struggle with these, then practice by holding your weight in the start position, until your body get used to the idea!


Tempo press ups:

Slow your press ups down by using a 2-2-2 tempo.

This means we lower down for 2 seconds, hold at the bottom for 2 seconds, then raise back up for 2 seconds.

Repeat these slow, controlled press ups for sets of 45-60 seconds.

Because they keep the muscles under tension for a long time, tempo press ups are a good way to build muscle in the upper body.


Perform 3 sets of each of these press up variations once per week.

That’s 15 sets in total.? Three rounds of each version.

Advanced trainees can do this in addition to their main chest workout – either straight after as a brutal burn out, or as a secondary chest workout 2-4 days later.


Best of luck with your press up training!


For more great articles on body weight training, fitness at home, yoga and nutrition.

Written by 

Sam is a Premier Diploma qualified personal trainer in SW London and is the founder of

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