Doing a perfect push-up works nearly all the major muscle groups in your body, but your chest, shoulders, and arms do the, er, heavy lifting.

Your upper body gets some much-needed attention in this week’s Grokker video with John Godfrey. In less than 20 minutes, you’ll combine several push-up variations for the ultimate no-equipment upper-body workout.

The instructor offers moves at three difficulty levels, so whether you’re doing a kneeling push-up or a plyometric push-up, there’s a way to make this routine suit your needs.

No warmup is included, so we suggest doing a quick dynamic one to get your muscles primed. You’ll only need a mat and some space, so once you’re warm, press play to start.

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Do 8–10 reps of each exercise in order, unless otherwise noted. Rest as little as possible between moves.

We’ll give you the instructions for the moderate-difficulty version as standard, providing the adjustments that make it either easier or more hardcore so you can adjust the workout for your ability level.

You don’t have to stick with one difficulty level for the whole set — if you’re trying at moderate difficulty and thinking you’re not gonna get through all 10 reps, move onto your knees midway through. If you feel like you’re coasting, step it up a notch.

Don’t forget to keep a straight back throughout all these moves.

1. One-armed push-up variation (both sides)

The one-armed push-up is a notorious show-off move and an ambitious place to start.

  • Start on your knees, with hands placed on the mat directly in line with shoulders. Raise and cross your feet, keeping knees on the mat.
  • Lift one hand and put it behind your back. Your other hand should still be planted on the mat, with arm slightly bent.
  • Lower yourself steadily, bringing your face to almost touch the mat. Then push back up.
  • Try to be explosive as you reach the top of the movement.
  • Do 5–10 reps with each arm.

The easier version: The same, but with your knees closer to your wrists.

The harder version: The motions are the same, but start in full push-up position with your toes on the floor and your legs straight. Make sure your legs are wider than the mat, for support, and that your arm is more central on the mat.

If you think the 15 variations on the humble push-up you’re about to see are wild, wait until you get a load of this rundown of 82 different push-ups to try.

2. Push-up

Because you can’t beat the classics. There are only two variations on offer here — a standard push-up from high plank position and an easier one on your knees.

We’re not gonna give you a blow-by-blow on nailing the perfect push-up. Instead, check out this guide — it breaks down in detail how to absolutely smash a push-up for maximum benefit.

3. Kneeling archer push-up

Think of the kneeling archer as a dab that gets you buff.

  • Get into kneeling push-up position, with hands on either side of the mat.
  • Lean into left arm, pushing down into the mat and keeping right arm straight. Be sure to look along your right arm for stability.
  • Push back into a kneeling push-up position, then lean into right arm, looking along the left arm. Leaning into both sides counts as 1 rep.

It’s not all about push-ups, though — there are plenty of alternatives that work the same muscle groups.

4. Diamond press-up

This is more challenging than your average push-up — but isn’t that the point? This variation will work your mid chest and triceps a bit harder than the standard push-up.

It’s tough.

  • Form a diamond shape with your thumbs and fingers on the mat (as demonstrated in the video).
  • Get into kneeling push-up position.
  • Lower yourself down toward the diamond shape of your hands.
  • Push back up.

The easier version: The same, but with your knees closer to your wrists.

The harder version: The motions are the same, but start off in full push-up position with your toes on the floor and your legs straight. Your feet should be lined up with your body.

(This is your friendly reminder to keep your back straight.)

Here are even more ways to pump up that chest.

5. Hindu push-up

This one gets the top of your chest primed — and doesn’t look a million miles off from a yoga pose.

  • Start with toes planted on the floor, hands planted body-width apart, and your butt as high in the air as it will go, forming an upside-down V shape with your body. (Yogis, think Down Dog.)
  • Bend elbows to lower yourself, dipping nose in front of thumbs.
  • Move head forward, keeping it low to the mat and staying parallel, while lowering hips to the mat.
  • Move head back up, keeping hips close to the mat. Make sure the movement is fluid and smooth.
  • Return to the starting position — carefully.

The easier version: Start on your knees instead of your toes.

Which are better for your chest muscles — push-ups or bench presses? We give the final verdict on this age-old pectoral stand-off.

Take a break here — you can also stretch out to keep those arms limber and those joints poised for action.

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6. Dragon walk

We’re pretty sure dragons fly, but they also have notoriously puny arms, so…

  • Stand at the back of the mat, bending forward so your fingertips touch the mat, while keeping legs straight.
  • Walk hands forward until you’re in a push-up position.
  • Walk feet forward to meet hands, making sure to keep your butt in the air.
  • Stand up straight and turn around for the next rep.

The easier version: If you have less flexible hamstrings, keep your knees bent during that first step. Then, instead of walking your feet forward, walk your hands back to where you started.

Dragons? Pah, try bird dog instead as part of this awesome 20-minute arm workout.

7. Bodyweight triceps extension

This move involves switching between high and low plank positions, working the sh*t out of those triceps.

  • Start in a high plank position, keeping back straight and palms down on the mat.
  • Steadily bring left elbow to the mat, then right elbow, forming a low plank.
  • Return to a high plank in the same order (left elbow first, then right).
  • Repeat, but start by dropping your right elbow this time.

The easier version: The same, but on your knees instead of your toes.

The harder version: Drop and raise both elbows at the same time (sheesh).

This mix of two different planks not enough for you? Fine, try 45 others.

8. Plank side walk

Become a crab with hencher arms. (This one will hurt, but your abs and shoulders will thank you too.)

  • Start in a high plank position with feet firmly together and toes pressed against the floor.
  • Move both left arm and left leg sideways (about a body’s width) at the same time, keeping both straight and being sure to lift them from the floor. Keep your butt at a regular height.
  • Bring right arm and leg back to meet left arm and leg in their new position, finishing in high plank.
  • Repeat this for the length of the mat. Voila! You have 1 rep.
  • When you’re done, drop your knees for support.

If you need guidance on how to plank the right way, we’ve got you covered.

9. Half push-up hold (20 seconds)

You know the point during a push-up that you really want to get past — that awkward halfway mark when you’re exerting the most energy? Yeah, you’re gonna hold yourself there for 20 seconds, and it’s going to feel like forever.


  • Start in a high plank position, keeping feet close together.
  • Drop into a push-up, but stop halfway, at the point of maximum engagement.
  • Hold it right there for 20 seconds, keeping your butt as level as possible.

The easier version: The same, but on your knees instead of your toes.

Life is all about push and all, so when you’re done with these, why not give pull-ups a try?

10. Pike hold (20 seconds)

This one doesn’t look like much, but you will feel that burn in your shoulders.

  • Start in a similar position to the Hindu push-up — toes planted, feet on the mat, butt in the air, and legs as straight as possible.
  • Rise up onto toes and, at the same time, tuck your head under so you’re looking straight at knees.
  • Hold for 20 seconds.

The easier version: Keep a bend in your knees and focus on tucking your head.

We put together a rundown on how to do pike push-ups.

It’s time for your second break, which means more stretching.

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11. Stagger push-up and squat jump

Here’s where it gets tricky. These next 5 moves are all about plyometrics and getting your heart rate up.

  • Start in a push-up position with left hand farther forward than right hand.
  • Do 1 push-up in this position, then switch hands, bringing right hand forward and moving left hand back.
  • Do another push-up.
  • Jump feet forward toward knees, like in a burpee. Keep knees in line with elbows.
  • From this squatting position, launch yourself up vertically into a jump.
  • That’s 1 rep. For the next rep, start with your right hand farther forward.

The easier version: Do the staggered push-up steps from your knees.

12. Clap push-up

This is where it all goes a bit nuclear. This works your triceps, shoulders, and chest to a ridiculous extent. It’s just very difficult to do, especially after 11 other exercises.

  • Start in a push-up position, with feet close together and back straight.
  • Do 1 push-up to get some momentum going, and then…
  • This next bit will be super quick – pay attention: Launch yourself up with an explosive push, then clap quickly, immediately placing your hands down to “catch” yourself.
  • Mid-catch, use your momentum to push yourself back up.

The easier version: Do the rep from your knees (to be honest, though, this is very difficult whichever way you spin it).

Explosive exercises can pack a world of benefits — check some out here.

13. Half push-up to full push-up

This is is simple in concept, but not so much in execution.

Essentially, you complete a rep when you do 2 push-ups, but on one of them, you go down only halfway. Alternating between the two requires a lot more control.

The easier version: Do the rep from your knees.

Bodyweight exercises aren’t just about strength training — they make for great cardio too. Learn more here.

14. Circular archer push-up

At this point, the workout is becoming monstrous. You’re so close to the finish line — but f*ck, does it burn right now.

This is essentially a kneeling archer with extra spice.

  • Start in kneeling push-up position, with hands on either side of the mat, feet raised and close together, and back straight.
  • Lean into left arm, pushing down into the mat and keeping right arm straight. Be sure to look along your right arm for stability.
  • From this position, push up on the left side, then lower yourself back into a kneeling push-up position.
  • Lean into right arm, looking along your left arm.
  • Push up on the right side in the same way.
  • Leaning into both sides counts as 1 rep.

The easier version: Move your knees closer to your wrists.

The harder version: Start in full push-up position.

Rather have someone else in the scrum, sweating with you? Here are 29 partner exercises for the team-up episode you never knew you wanted to be in.

15. Uneven push-up

Final hurdle, now — we know you can push through (pun intended). Remember the staggered push-ups from earlier? This is the same, but you’re switching after 10 instead of alternating.

  • Start in full or kneeling push-up position.
  • Keeping arms on either side of the mat, with left hand farther forward than right hand, do 10 push-ups.
  • Switch your hands around, putting right hand farther forward, and do 10 more.
  • Peel yourself from the mat, summon what strength you can, and give yourself a pat on the back — you’ve done it!

We rounded up the best workouts for your shoulders. Best of all, you can do them all at home.

If you’re always putting off working out due to “time constraints,” think again — this is 20 minutes of pure effort, but it’s still only 20 minutes. That’s not even a full episode of “Friends.”

Give your arms a rest tomorrow — no hitchhiking or flag-waving for you — and instead focus on your core.

Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!