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3 Powerful Push Up Variations For Building Lean Muscle Mass

3 Powerful Push Up Variations For Building Lean Muscle Mass

  1. Are you looking to learn about how to implement some push up variations to challenge you in a completely different way? 
  2. Are you looking to learn some push ups to enhance your physical function and help you to build some lean muscle? 
  3. Are you open to getting out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself with some unique push ups?

There a many push up variations for you to implement to build lean muscle and function. Push ups are one of the most powerful exercises you can have in your arsenal of strength movements. Let’s face it…push ups are cheap, convenient, challenging and when mastered the variations are almost endless. The push up takes a backseat to nobody. As far as looking for the most immediate answer to acquiring strength, lean muscle, and efficiency what better exercise is there for your go to than the tried and true push up?

Hard Hitting Powerful Push Up Variations

So you might be able to crank out 30, 40, 50, or 60 straight push ups all at one time. That’s very impressive, but what happens when you’re able to destroy the traditional standard push up on a regular basis and you are ready to upgrade the difficulty level to present yourself with a new challenge?

The answer to this little riddle basically involves two parts. The first part is where you can go and concentrate on adding a load for intensity such as with free weights, weighted vests, or other forms of resistance. Loading is great and even if you’re short on those resources and talking about solely utilizing your own body’s resistance for the purpose of making gains then you can simply vary the style of push up for a more desired challenge and outcome.

It’s for this reason as to why I’m going to cover 3 solid and unique push up drills for you to try here that will change up the way you perform the drill. I promise this will certainly give you a whole new perspective on how to do push ups and how to go about intensifying the challenge of this exercise. So buckle your chinstrap and get ready to do some work with these push up variations.

The Kettlebell Crossover Push Up

As you can see this drill is great for constantly challenging you because of stressing the demand of having to change your hand position. By simply changing your hand position over the kettlebell you’re working to redistribute your bodyweight causing the drill to be more challenging compared to performing the same motion in a more repetitive fashion.

This drill consists of performing a push up with one hand elevated on the kettlebell and then upon the ascent you must walk your hands over to place the other hand on the kettlebell to perform the movement on the other arm.


To start out I would recommend attempting 3 to 5 repetitions per set of this drill. Trust me, it’s a lot more challenging than it looks. Give it a shot.

The Hindu Push Up

This push up variation is great for your shoulder girdle. In fact, this particular push up is the perfect hybrid of strength and stretching in my opinion.

To perform this push up you want to begin in a standard push up position with your feet about hip width distance. From here you want to kick your hips to the sky pulling your heels towards the ground to stretch your posterior muscles.

Next, you want to dive towards the ground in a swooping motion with your head as if you’re about to dive underneath a fence post. Once you have swooped under the post kick your hips back to the sky to repeat the process.

This movement is not only great for challenging you in the push up movement, but it will also prime your shoulder girdle to help you with your overhead pressing too.


Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps during your bodyweight strength session.

Push Up Dumbbell Drags

This is a fantastic push up variation to teach body control while intensifying the push up movement. With this drill you can intensify the challenge with the addition of a single dumbbell or kettlebell.

From here you want to perform the push up while grabbing the weight with your arm to drag it across your body. You want to grab the weight with the arm on the same side of your body that the weight is on. In other words, if the weight is on your left side then you want to grab it with your left arm to move it to the right side of your body between every push up.

Count a repetition after the weight has been moved to both sides of your body. So essentially you’ll end up performing two push ups per repetition of this push up variation. Just keep in mind to resist the urge to twist your hips or torso when dragging the weight. Maintaining rigidity while dragging the weight is the whole purpose. It’s about bracing and producing stability.


Perform 3 sets of 4 to 8 reps of this exercise on your bodyweight strength training session.

Push Up Variatons: The Takeaway

The standard push up is a tremendous strength movement. However, if you’re looking to challenge yourself to build lean muscle mass and function without the need of many other training implements then you can apply these push ups to your arsenal.

What kind of push up variations are you including in your arsenal of strength drills?

Don’t be shy and make sure to post up in the comments below. 

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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