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Take Your Push Ups To The Next Level (Intermediate & Advanced Variations)

Author: Train Smart Fitness & Health | | Categories: Fitness Instructor , Health Improvement Programs , Online Personal Training , Personal Fitness Trainer , Personal Trainer , Wellness Programs


How many Standard Push Ups have you done in your life?

How many have you done since Quarantine began?

If you’re busting out sets of 20-30 reps regularly and it's starting to feel a bit stale, then it’s probably time for you to take them up a notch. The Standard Push Up is great and it should have a place in your exercise rotation but when it gets easy it may be time to swap it out and work on a variation.

This can spark new muscle growth, improve upper body strength, and keep you excited about Training.

There are probably 1001 variations you can include in your Training Program, I’m just going to give you 4 that I think will provide the most bang for your buck.

The Decline or Feet-Elevated Push Up

This is typically the next step up once the Standard Push Up starts to get easier. Done well, this variation will shift the tension more towards your Upper Chest and add load on your Triceps and Shoulders. You can use a lot of things to elevate your feet high enough to give you the challenge you’re looking for: Books, Stool, Chair, Bed, a Partner to lift your legs, even a Wall (though this is my least preferred option)


  • Set your hands a little bit wider than your regular Push Ups to allow for a 90 degree angle at the Shoulders and Elbows
  • Be mindful of your Head as it approaches the ground
  • Keep the Core engaged to avoid hyperextending the Lower Back

Band-Resisted Push Ups

Yes, that Resistance Band that’s been laying around in your gym bag or closet can help turn the easiest part of the Push Up into the most challenging part. Typically once we’re past the bottom ½ of the Push Up we’re in the clear and can finish the rep. Adding a Resistance Band makes that easy part much more challenging. If you have a variety of Resistance Bands you’ll have a few loading options.


  • Make sure your Regular Push Up form is solid first. You’ll need that solid base under you to be able to push through the band as you rise up
  • Play around with the band set up to find what works best for you

Deficit Push Ups

Where’s the typical failure point in our Push Ups when we’re fatigued? Usually the bottom. Use this variation to add more of a stretch on the Chest Muscles, putting more demand on them and helping you strengthen that portion. To create that deficit you can use books, wooden planks, weight plates or a pair of Kettebells. Look around your house and see what you can use


  • Wooden Planks are my preference as they’re cheap and make the deficit easier to adjust
  • I would not recommend using vertical dumbbells for this. If you take the set the failure, you’re more likely to fall hard on your face or overstretch a Muscle
  • Start with a very minimal deficit and then progressively increase it

Archer Push Ups

This is probably the most advanced variation of the 4. It’s a stepping stone towards 1-Arm Push Ups and is quite difficult to learn (as you can see, I’m still working on mastering them), but well worth building up to. This variation shifts your bodyweight to mostly 1 Arm at a time, demanding more of that side and overall body control.


  • You’re not just pushing down into the ground, you’re also thinking of bringing your arms together like a Dumbbell Chest Fly
  • Once you feel ready to try these, start from your knees

There are a lot of ways that you can program these exercises into your training. But if you’re not sure how to do that, then instead of stressing about it work with a Coach or Personal Trainer who can take care of that for you.