Are you trying to build a bigger upper body using only your bodyweight?
Well, you’re in luck because you’re about to discover one of the best exercises for building a bigger upper body without having to step inside a gym.
We get it. It’s tough to make time to workout, but with the diamond push-up, you can create a firmer, more defined physique from almost anywhere.
Make sure you read this article all the way to end because not only will you learn everything about this incredible exercise including the which muscles it works and how to do it… but you’ll also learn about some of the coolest push-up variations complete with a sample workout.
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What is a Diamond Push-Up?
The diamond push-up is a compound exercise that works your chest, core, back, shoulders, triceps – even the quads and glutes. They’re performed by placing your feet and hands on the floor (with opposite hands touching) with your back straight and using your chest and arm muscles to descend and ascend the weight of your body off the floor.
This exercise goes by a few additional names including:
- Diamond Kiss Push-Up
- Triangle Push-Up
- Diamond Press-Up
Diamond Push-Ups vs. Regular Push-Ups
There’s one primary difference between diamond and regular push-ups.
In a traditional push-up, your hands are placed far apart just outside your shoulders, and this stance is what makes it one of the best push-up variations to build chest mass.
With a diamond push-up, your hands are closer together, with your fingers and thumbs forming a diamond or triangle shape, and this moves the focus from your chest muscles to your triceps.
Your basic form stays the same:
- Hands are flat on the floor
- Legs extended behind you
- Body is in a straight line from shoulders to ankles
What Muscles Do Diamond Push-Ups Work?
The main muscles worked by diamond push-ups include your chest (pectoralis major), triceps, shoulders (deltoids), and back (rhomboid and trapezius).
These are the general muscle groups that diamond push-ups work, but different types of push-ups will emphasize different groups.
A diamond push-up targets your triceps first. The triceps is the muscle that runs along the back of your arm, and they work with your biceps to help you extend and retract your forearm.
Your chest (pectoralis major) and shoulders (anterior deltoids) are secondary. But, don’t be fooled, they also get major benefits from this exercise.
These are the secondary muscles that get activated when performing this exercise because they’re required for stabilization:
- Abs (rectus abdominus)
Why are Diamond/Triangle Push-Ups So Hard?
The triangle push-up is a lot more challenging than a traditional push-up because your hands are so close together. Unlike the classic push-up, the diamond forces you to balance yourself because of the smaller base of support.
And, since your triceps are a smaller, weaker muscle compared to your chest, pushing your body weight is much more difficult.
Additionally, keeping your feet together while you are doing diamond push-ups will require even more balance and that will really engage your core – especially your internal and external obliques.
4 Undeniable Diamond Push-Ups Benefits
Are diamond push-ups any good? Can you build muscle with push-ups? Sure you can!
There are many benefits and results to including diamond push-ups in your regular workout routine so let’s go through a few of them.
1. They May Be the Most Effective Triceps Exercise
Let alone this exercise being the best push-up for triceps, a study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found the most effective tricep exercise is a diamond push-up, better than dips or triceps kickbacks.
Diamond push-ups will increase your triceps activation and bring a lot of definition to the back of your arms.
Diamond Push-Ups vs Dips
Diamond push-ups are often compared to the dips exercise because of their similar abilities to work the triceps and chest, but which one is better?
Well, dips work these muscles more like a vertical bench press movement. Because of this, dips require you have healthier shoulders to perform consistently.
Alternatively, diamond push-ups put less emphasis on your shoulders and more activation on the triceps. This is why diamond push-ups are often preferred over dips.
2. Diamond Push-Ups Are Great for Chest Development
Contrary to popular belief, studies show the chest also gets a great workout. The narrow position of your hands puts stress on the pec minor and pec major muscles.
3. They’re Great Push-Ups for Shoulders
Stronger shoulders is also a benefit of diamond push-ups because they put more pressure on the shoulder joint compared to a traditional push-up, and that will challenge your anterior deltoid and prepare it for other push-up variations.
4. Diamond Push-Ups Allow for Faster Progression to More Advanced Variations
If you want to be a major bad-ass, and progress to one arm push-ups, being able to do a perfect triangle push-up is key. To get to that point, you have to start with perfecting traditional push-ups. Once you can do about 20 of those with perfect form, then you should move on to conquering the diamond form.
Despite what most guys think, you don’t want to just increase your volume when it comes to bodyweight movements. Doing 100 diamond push-ups each day isn’t going to give you great results.
Instead, once you can do those comfortably (and with the proper form), you move on to archer push-ups, which is where you leave one arm out perpendicular to your body with just your fingertips touching the ground.
And, the final step is a one-arm push-up.When you get to that point, your triceps muscles should be huge and defined.
How To Do Diamond Push-Ups for Beginners
Get in a plank position with your hands touching just under your pectoral muscles. Bring your thumbs and index fingers together so they touch and form a triangle or diamond shape. Unbend your elbows and lock out your triceps to form a straight diagonal line from your feet to your head.
While keeping your elbows tight to your rib cage and upper obliques, lower your upper body back to the floor using your abdominal muscles for stability. Just before your pectorals reach the floor, press your body back to the start position.
What if I Can’t Do Diamond Push-Ups?
If you are able to do regular push-ups but are having trouble with diamonds, slowly bring your hands closer and closer with every workout, until you can do a diamond with your hands together.
Or, if they are too difficult at first where you can’t do them with perfect form, change your incline and put your hands on a bench while keeping your feet on the floor. This will take some of the weight off of your arms and make the push-up easier.
If you can, consider performing super slow diamond push-ups. You’ll benefit from more time under tension that translates to more muscle activation.
Basic Diamond Push-Up Workout to Build Muscle
Diamond (triangle) push-ups are already pretty difficult to master, but here’s a very basic workout routine to build muscle only using diamond push-ups.
Exercise: Diamond Push-Up
Total Sets: As many as needed
Total Reps: 50
The idea is to complete 50 diamond push-ups in as many sets as you need in this workout plan. Use good form on every repetition.
For this regimen, your goal is to complete more reps per set for the next session. Maybe you’ll even do all 50 in a row someday!
Why Diamond Push-Ups Are an Awesome Exercise
Diamond push-ups are the perfect exercise for building the size and strength of your triceps, and they also have major benefits for your chest and shoulders.
You can incorporate them in into an existing bodybuilding routine, or just stack multiple sets of this exercise on top of each other. Just remember, when they become too easy, it’s time to progress and try something more advanced.
Consider performing them elevated by pushing against a solid object or using a decline by putting your feet on a bench. This will alter the difficulty of the exercise.
Push-ups of all kinds and styles should be a workout staple if you want maximum triceps and chest gains.
12 Different Types of Push-Up Variations
Traditional and diamond push-ups are great exercises to build a killer upper body, that doesn’t mean they’re the best push-up variations out there.
There are plenty of other kinds of push-ups and positions that target different muscle groups, benefit different experience levels, and look pretty cool too.
Here are some additional push-up variations and the muscles they work.
Not every push-up variation is difficult. In fact, some of them are pretty easy.
Here are a few push-up alternates that are easy for beginners just getting started.
1. Wall Push-Up
Wall push-ups target all the same muscles as traditional push-ups like arms, chest, back, and shoulders, but with much less resistance. The form for this variation goes like this:
- Face towards a wall making sure to stand a little more than arm’s length away
- Plant your feet shoulder width apart
- Lean forward and place your hands flat on the wall shoulder width apart
- Slowly bend your elbows and allow your upper body move closer to the wall
- Pause at the bottom
- Unbend your elbows to push yourself away from the wall and back to starting position
2. Countertop Push-Ups
This version is performed the say way as a wall push-up, but decreases the incline, adding slightly more difficulty to the exercise.
- Face towards a countertop or stable piece of furniture as tall as your waist
- Stand at arm’s length away with your feet shoulder width apart
- Lean forward and place your hands on the corner of the counter. This is starting position
- Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body towards the counter
- When you’re about a few inches away from the counter, pause and push yourself back to starting position
3. Incline Chair Push-Ups
This alternative push-up takes the principles from the countertop and wall versions and adds a little more resistance once again. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your hands flat on the seat of a secure chair with your arms shoulder width apart (grab the chair handles or arms if it’s more comfortable)
- Keep your body and legs straight out behind you and prop yourself up so you’re at an inclined angle
- Lower your body slowly by bending at the elbows
- When your elbows reach a 90 degree angle, pause and then push against the chair to return your body back to starting position
4. Straight Arm Push-Ups
Straight arm push-ups require that you’re able to hold your body in the regular position, but you won’t actually be bending your arms. This variation will work your major back muscles like your rhomboids and trapezius. Here’s how to do it:
- Start in a regular push-up position down on the floor with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your feet at about hip width
- Give a slight exhale while pressing your shoulder blades apart. Your upper back should ascend up towards the ceiling.
- With your abs tight, inhale again and allow your shoulder blades to move towards each other. Your chest should move towards the floor.
5. Negative Push-Ups
If you’re not ready for a regular push-up just yet, negative push-ups are a good alternative that will still work almost all the same muscles.
- Start in a regular push-up position down on the floor with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your feet at about hip width
- With your body straight, lower yourself down slowly to the floor by unbending your elbows counting five seconds or more in your head
- Try to go as far down as you can before completing the repetition and allowing your knees to catch your bodyweight
If you’ve managed to master the traditional push-up and you can complete 20 or more reps in a single set, then you’re probably ready for a more advanced variation. Here are a few to get you started.
6. Biceps Push-Ups
Just like this name suggests, biceps push-ups are a great exercise that works your biceps muscles. Here’s the setup:
- Start in the regular push-up position
- Orient your hands so your fingers are pointed towards your feet and position them in line with the middle of your back
- Lower down by bending your elbows and tucking them towards your body
- Once you get pretty close to the floor, push yourself back up
7. Wide Grip Push-Ups for Inner Chest
Even though regular push-ups do a good job of working your chest muscles, you can use the wide grip variation for specific targeting and work your inner chest.
- Start in a regular push-up position
- Position your hands wider than shoulder width by 1.5x
- With a tight core and glutes, lower yourself to the floor
- When your chest touches the floor, push yourself back up to starting position
8. Medicine Ball Push-Ups
For this type of push-up, you’re going to brace your upper body on a medicine ball. This exercise works your chest, triceps, and core primarily.
- Place a heavy medicine ball on the floor
- Using your core and arms to stabilize yourself, get into a standard push-up position with both hands placed on the medicine ball
- Slowly lower yourself towards the ball using your abs to keep yourself steady
- When you get close to the ball, yourself back up to starting position
9. Decline Diamond Push-Ups
Here’s how to do decline diamond push-ups:
- Kneel on the floor in front of a chair or box
- Get into a diamond push-up position, but elevate your feet on the seat of the chair so your hands are declined in contrast to your feet
- Bend your elbows and lower your upper body to the floor
- When your face gets close to the floor, use your triceps to push up to starting position
10. V Push-Ups
V push-ups are another style that will primarily work your chest and shoulders because of how you’re inverted. This is how to do one:
- Get into a regular push-up position but move your feet closer to your hands to your butt sticks up in the air so your body makes an upside down “V”
- Slightly raise the balls of your feet off the floor
- Bend at the elbows and allow your head and body to move towards the floor
- Push yourself back to starting position
11. Star Push-Ups
Star push-ups are very dynamic in that they require you to actually get air-born for a split second to change your position. Here’s how to do them:
- Start in regular push-up position
- Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your chest is an inch or two from the floor
- With an explosive motion, push your body up from the floor while simultaneously widening the position of your hands and feet
- Land with your hands and feet in a slightly wider position
- Bend your elbows again and lower your body down again
- With the same explosive motion, push your body up, but shorten the position of your hands and feet
- Land with your hands in feet back in their original position
12. Diver Push-Ups (aka Dive Bomber Push-Ups)
The main benefit of dive bomber push-ups has to be the number of muscles worked. This variation not only hits your chest, triceps, shoulders, and upper back but also your lower back and abs too. Here’s how to perform one safely:
- Start in the same position as the V push-ups by getting down on the floor with your feet and hands about hip width apart and your hips pushed high into the air
- Bend your elbows and lower your hips, but as your chest nears the floor, keep moving forward across the floor
- Allow your hips to drop towards the floor while sticking your chest up past your arms and locking out your triceps
- Reverse the movement until your hips are back in the air
Advanced Push-Up Workout Routine for Mass
Here’s a sample calisthenics program that incorporates various advanced push-up types. Repeat the entire workout through 3 cycles. Rest 10 seconds between sets and 30-60 seconds between cycles.
- 3 sets x 5 reps – Star Push-Ups
- 3 sets x 10 reps – Diamond Push-Ups
- 3 sets x 10 reps – Wide Grip Push-Ups
- 3 sets x 10 reps – Decline Push-Ups
- 3 sets x 10 reps – Dive Bomber Push-Ups
As you progress with this workout, you can either shorten your rest times, add more exercises, add more sets, or even add more resistance with plates on your back or wearing a weighted vest.
Want to Build Super Functional Strength with Push-Ups?
Yes, all the information on this page can help you build a great chest and bigger arms, but you can’t use push-ups alone to build the body of your dreams.
To build super functional strength and size, you need a targeted bodyweight program that’s designed to take you through structured phases of strength that lead to impressive muscle gains.
Luckily for you, we reviewed one of the most infamous calisthenics programs ever created, Convict Conditioning. Check out this program to lean how you can get completely ripped using the same techniques that a convicted felon used to build jaw-dropping strength while he spent close to 20 years in federal prison.