Press ups are one of the most iconic strength training exercises in existence. But did you know that with the right press up variations, you can make them even more effective?


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

  1. Incline Press Ups
  2. Decline Press Ups
  3. Wide Stance Press Ups
  4. Parallel Stance Press Ups
  5. Kong Press Ups
  6. Triangle Press Ups
  7. Clap Press Ups
  8. Resistance Band Press Ups

Incline Press Ups

a person doing an incline push up outside

The incline press up variation is a good starter for those who are beginning to get to grips with standard press ups. The idea is to take a little bit of weight off the exercise and make it slightly easier, whilst working the lower chest region and triceps. It may not be as intense as some of the others, but it definitely can help as a warm up or cool down if done in moderation.

Just make sure that the upper body is higher than the lower body throughout by placing your hands on something like a bench or a chair, and you’re good to go!

Decline Press Ups

a person performing a decline push up outside

The decline press up variation, as you may have guessed, is pretty much the exact opposite of the incline press up. It makes the exercise much more difficult and involves the upper chest and the shoulders very heavily.

Keep your legs are elevated above your chest by placing them on a chair or bench, or something of a greater height. That way, you're pushing upwards and outwards, which changes the exercise completely and makes it one of the best exercises for your upper chest.

Wide Stance Press Ups

a person performing a widegrip push up

The wider the stance of your press up, the more involvement your chest will have. That's a result of you using your triceps less, and your chest taking more of the work as a result.

Wide stance press ups can be a little bit easier or harder depending on where your strengths lie, but of course, with more chest involvement, there is less tricep or shoulder involvement. This can make it a real challenge but a very effective chest exercise.

Parallel Stance Press Ups

a person performing a parallel push up

In this press up variation, your hands are in a standard position, but they are directly in front of your shoulders. This moves the focus the opposite way to the wide stance, and really brings your triceps into the mix. Your triceps should be weaker than your chest, so expect it to be a lot harder than standard press up variations.

Keep your hands in the right place the whole time, and make sure you aren't swaying as you move.

Kong Press Ups

a person performing a kong push up

This is one of the less common press up variations, but it is highly effective and a real challenge too. Instead of changing the distance between your hands, you're changing the positioning of them.

Lower yourself until your chest is on the floor and your arms are bent at about 90 degrees, before pushing back upwards. This is one of, if not the most, difficult variations in this list and shouldn’t be underestimated. It will be much more effective for building your shoulders as well as your chest, and is well worth the effort it takes if you can manage to master it.

Triangle Press Ups

person performing a triangle push up

Triangle press up variations are also in the top difficulty tier of exercising. They require far more involvement of your triceps, rather than your chest or shoulders, like the rest of the variations do.

To perform, place your thumbs together and index fingers with your hands flat to the floor to create a triangular gap between the two hands. From there, push up as normal, keeping focus on your balance.

Clap Press Ups

person performing a clap push up

The basis of a clap press up is essentially the same as a normal press up, however, has a slight twist. As the name suggests, the clap press up variation involves having enough thrust from your upward push, so that the torso leaves the ground, allowing enough time for you to clap your hands together before coming back down. It's challenging, but it’s doable, and it's an awesome strength builder!

Resistance Band Press Ups

a person performing a resistance band push up on a beach

For the last press up variation on the list, we've added a little something extra. The resistance band press up takes things up a notch and adds even more resistance. It makes the exercise substantially harder!

We advise really paying attention to the time your reps are taking. Don't use the elastic nature of the band for momentum. Take your time and keep in control. Your whole upper body will thank you for it.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.