There are many different variations of push ups for different training goals. But doesn’t always make sense to always change the exercise and do as many different exercises as possible, if you want to achieve specific goals.

Here we show you the 5 MOST IMPORTANT exercises for different goals, because you can’t integrate every variation into your workout. With the Push up training you focus on training your shoulder, chest or triceps. But it’s also possible to set the focus on different goals.


To train your shoulder primarily you can do pseudo planche push ups. Depending on far you lean your shoulders forward in the push ups position you can vary the intensity of the exercise. To perform this exercise as clean as possible you should pay attention to protract your shoulders in the upper position. When going down you retract your scapulae and over the full range of motion you should keep your scapulae depressed. If you want to make this exercise easier you just lean less forward. If you are able to lean very far forward you have to lift the balls of your palms a little bit or rotate your fingers outward. Alternatively you can execute the pseudo planche push ups on push up handles or on parallettes, what makes the issue of the over extension of the wrist no longer a real problem.


To focus on the triceps you can do sphinx push ups. For this you also have to protract your scapulae when going up. But this time you keep the protraction over the full range of motion, because there is no big movement in your shoulder. It would be negative, if you fall down into a retraction. This exercise can also be intensified by leaning your shoulder further forward or by placing your legs higher. To make it easier you move your shoulders backwards or place your hands higher.


To train your core stability with a high intensity at the same time you can perform one arm push ups. You should keep an eye on keeping your body straight and your shoulders as horizontal as possible without screwing them against the hips. If you not able to do this yet, the intensity might be too high. In this case you can place your hand higher or switch to archer push ups to prepare for this exercise. With archer push ups you can increase the intensity step by step by decreasing the support of the straight arm. This can for example be done be using only several fingers to support the move.


To focus on body control, technique and balance you can do Handstand Push ups. In the first place you are training the shoulders, but also triceps and especially a lot of small muscles have to contract very well coordinated. In the upper position you have to pay attention to an elevation of the scapulae. When going down you have to let your elbows point backwards, because otherwise you could trigger an impingement syndrome. Furthermore you have to move your shoulders forward when you move down and let your body kip a bit to the other side to keep balance. You should absolutely avoid to fall into an arched back, when you push yourself back up. Also let your pelvis kipped backwards. If you still fall into an arched back position, the intensity might be too high for you or your technique is not yet good enough, or even both. Falling into an arched back is an evasive movement to make the pecs able to support the move, which makes it easier. You can find a detailed information in our Handstand-Pushup Tutorial.

If the intensity is still too high with the handstand push up you should increase the strength of your shoulders or prepare specifically with pike pushups. Try to come as close as possible to the upper body movement of the handstand push up. So you have to let yourself down from the upper position with a wide opened angle between arms and torso to a lower position with far forward leaned shoulders. You should move back up in a straight line as parallel as possible to your spine.


In this Video you can watch the moves and see the specific execution. Please keep in mind to also train your posterior chain with exercises like the Pull Up to avoid imbalances.