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High Performance Training Without the Equipment: 6 More Pushup Variations

Posted Jan 21 2011 5:45am

In yesterday’s post , I outlined the importance of including pushup variations in your strength training program and introduced five ways to progress this basic exercise. Today, I’ve got six more pushup variations for you.

Pushup Variation #6: Yoga Pushups

I like Yoga pushups not because they are a subtle increase in difficulty over a regular pushup, but because they afford some extra mobility benefits at the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine.  They’re a great addition to a dynamic warm-up.

Pushup Variation #7: Spiderman Pushups

While it increases the difficulty a bit more than a yoga pushup, the spiderman pushup still affords some great hip mobility benefits.

One word of caution, though; it’s my experience that folks tend to “slip” into a forward head posture more often with the spiderman pushup than any other pushup variation, so make sure that you don’t let the head poke forward as the elevated leg’s hip goes into flexion and abduction.

Pushup Variation #8: Slideboard Pushup Variations

We utilize the slideboard a ton at Cressey Performance – and pushups are no exception.  Two of our favorites are slideboard pushups with band and slideboard bodysaw pushups.

In the case of the former, we take a 1/2″ band and wrap it around the wrists.  This band wants to pull you into internal rotation and horizontal adduction at the shoulder, so you have to activate the posterior rotator cuff and scapular retractors to hold the ideal pushup position.

The bodysaw pushups really take things up a notch on the difficulty scale, as they not only make the hand positioning dynamic, but also increase the anti-extension core challenge.

Pushup Variation #9: Pushup Iso Hold w/Perturbations

In our DVD set, Optimal Shoulder Performance , Mike Reinold and I spend quite a bit of time talking about the value of rhythmic stabilization drills to train the true function of the rotator cuff.  I’m also a big fan of pushup isometric holds to teach proper scapular positioning and educate athletes on ideal posture.  In the 1-leg pushup iso hold with perturbations, we get all those benefits – plus some added instability training because there are only three points of contact with the ground.

Pushup Variation #10: TRX Pushups

The TRX is probably the most versatile piece of equipment out there other than the barbell and the functional trainer – and one of its most basic uses is pushup variations.

As I alluded to in my e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training , the instability created by the TRX likely allows you to maintain muscle activation in the upper extremity even though less loading is needed.  This means that when performed correctly, TRX pushups may have a place in a return-to-function protocol after rehab, or even simply as a deloading strategy in a strength and conditioning program.

For more information, check out the Fitness Anywhere website .

Pushup Variation #11: T-Pushups

Last, but certainly not least, we have the T-Pushup.  This pushup variation is great because it not only involves constant changing of the points of stability, but also because it requires thoracic spine rotation.  To increase the challenge, you can hold dumbbells in your hands.

I’ve listed 11 variations in the past two posts, but I know that a lot of you out there have some innovative pushup variations to suggest as well.  Let’s hear ‘em in the comment section!

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