6 Push-up and Sit-up Variations to Help You Get Jacked
If you’re looking for body weight exercises to spice up your workouts, I’ve got some great variations on two old standards you can try right away. These require little to no extra equipment and can really help you get shredded. They’re especially great if you’re traveling and don’t have access to a gym. You can do them right in your hotel room!
Hands-behind-head: You’ve probably tried this in gym class or at least seen it on TV, but this is the standard sit-up for the military. Simply clasp your hands behind your head to make the standard sit-up much harder than having your arms crossed over your chest. I recommend trying it without having anyone hold your feet…it requires more core stability and more hip strength to get full range of motion. I’ll do about 30 of these in a row and my abs are pretty smoked.
Reach-past-toes: Again, do this without a partner. With this variation, I use either arms-crossed or hands-behind-head and will touch my toes or reach past my toes on each rep. Flexibility determines your reach. Reaching past your toes forces you to do a longer sit-up with your chest close to your knees and shoulders past the hips. I do toe-touches almost every time I do sit-ups.
Weight Overhead: I start with my back and shoulders fully on the ground and hold a weight behind my head with arms at full extension and touching the ground. Then I’ll proceed to sit-up, keeping my arms at extension and the weight in front of me. In the full sit-up position, your arms should be locked out with the weight above your head and your shoulders squeezing. This one gets pretty intense, so I would start with a light weight and work my way up. You can use anything here: dumbbells, plates, a backpack, a book, anything with a little weight. If you’re stuck in a hotel room, try using your laptop or a backpack. I’ve worked my way up to where I’m using a 45 lbs plate!!
Diamond Push-ups: Instead of having your hands start shoulder width apart, bring them together so your thumbs and pointer fingers are touching, thus forming a “diamond” below your chest. Do push-ups from this position. These target the triceps more and get tough fast.
Hand-release: This variation is called a hand-release push-up. Start from the standard push-up position, lower yourself so your body is completely resting on the deck, then remove your hands (“release”) from the ground for just an instant. Put your hands back, drive up, and repeat. This is much harder than a standard push-up and will wear you out. Hand releases guarantee a complete range of motion and work the shoulders more because of the acute angle of your arms. If I do 25 of these in a single set, I’m donzo.
Chest Tapping Push-ups: These are pretty intense…I don’t recommend them unless you’re already pretty fit and used to plyometric type exercises. With that being said, simply do a regular push-up, and when you drive upwards, launch yourself off the ground and have both hands tap your chest immediately, then quickly replace them on the ground. Repeat. If you’re gonna try these, start by doing them on carpet or with a workout mat in case you do a face plant.
A simple workout: 3 x 15 weight-overhead sit-ups (10 lbs) superset with 3 x 15 hand release push-ups. Give it a shot and see what you think.
About Lance Lance is a tech geek by day, social artist and fitness enthusiast by night. He specializes in relationships in real life situations, such as workplace and in business, and his goal is to create high value social circles filled with opportunity. For more on his dating and relationship perspective, check out his blog honeyandlance.com