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9 Best Push-Up Alternatives (That Do The Job Just as Good)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: June 24, 2023

If you cringe at the thought of doing push-ups, you are not alone.

Luckily, there are many variations out there that you can practice with.

After hours of research, we’ve come up with a list of the best alternatives that are just as effective.

Quick Summary

  • The best push-up alternatives are overhead presses, dumbbell chest presses, shoulder presses, modified push-ups, rotating planks, forearm planks, and parallel planks.
  • Push-up workouts are very effective when it comes to building strength, and muscular endurance.
  • Start by trying out the push-up alternatives that are easy to execute.

What To Do If I Can’t Do Push-Ups?

Woman struggling to do push ups

Push-ups are among the most effective exercises that build strength and muscular endurance.

This powerhouse move targets major muscle groups at once [1].

They recruit your upper body, core, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

However, not everyone can pull them off.

Certain injuries may prevent people from doing it, while others just haven’t developed enough upper body and core strength to crank out even a single one.

“Strengthening muscles takes time, and being able to execute a push-up with proper form takes practice and reps. Trying out alternative movements to build the strength needed to complete a push-up is a great option.”

- Lacee Lazoff, Certified Personal Trainer & Strength Coach

If you're one of these folks, you can try the following exercises that will deliver the same results as standard push-ups.

Read more: Best Push-Up Variations to Supercharge Your Strength

9 Alternatives To Boost Upper-Body Strength

Most of these moves require no resistance other than your body weight and basic equipment like free weights and a yoga mat.

1. Overhead Press

Middle aged woman doing overhead press workout

This exercise will work wonders for your shoulder muscles, triceps, and core. Overhead presses are also great for toning your abdomen, helping you achieve that coveted six-pack.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your wrists facing each other. Keep the weights level with your shoulders.
  3. With your knees soft and your core engaged, press the weights up overhead.
  4. Fully extend your arms and lower the dumbbells (with control) back at shoulder level.

2. Dumbbell Chest Press

Dumb bell chest press exercise

Also known as the bench press, this classic exercise will strengthen your shoulders, chest, and core.

You can try doing this on a gym bench or a stability ball to challenge your lower body muscles further.

This move will have your glutes and thighs working hard to keep your body in one straight line.

  1. Start lying flat on your back on a floor, bench, or ball.
  2. Bend at the knees and firmly press your feet on the ground.
  3. Grab your free weights and bring your arms out to the sides until they form a 90-degree angle at your shoulder joint.
  4. With your palms facing your waist, press your arms up and tighten your chest muscles as you bring the dumbbells together.
  5. Slowly lower the weights back down to your starting position for one rep.

3. Shoulder Press

A woman doing a shoulder press

This one will work all of the upper body muscles you use when doing standard push-ups.

  1. Start by standing tall with a free weight in each hand.
  2. Lift your arms so that your elbows form a 90-degree angle and your triceps are parallel to the floor.
  3. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, bring your elbows toward each other until you feel a stretch in your upper back.
  4. Inhale and pull the weights away from your body and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  5. Lift your dumbbells up into a s

4. Modified Push-Up

The starting position of modified push up

This one is the most similar to a standard push-up, but it’s still very doable and ideal for beginner and intermediate exercisers.

Modified push-ups take a lot of work away from the legs and abs, making it a great way to train your chest and shoulders for the real thing.

Make sure you focus on form instead of speed here.

Related: Best Hack Squat Alternatives: Killer Leg Workout

  1. Start by assuming a tabletop position.
  2. Walk your hands another foot forward to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  3. Lower your chest with your feet rising off the ground as the push-up goes to the floor.
  4. Keep your core tight as you bring your torso to the ground.

5. Rotating Plank

Woman doing rotating side planks

This push-up alternative will activate your shoulders, lats, glutes, abs, and obliques.

  1. Get into a high plank position.
  2. Open up your hips and chest to the left side to assume a side plank position.
  3. Raise your right arm to the ceiling.
  4. Rotate back to the original pose and then back up to the side plank pose, raising your right arm again.
  5. Repeat the steps when you change your side from left to right.

6. Forearm Plank

A commonly used plank exercise

If your wrists hurt while doing push-ups, this classic plank is a great alternative.

You can hold this position for at least 30 to 60 seconds.

The longer you hold this plank position, the more it will impact your upper body muscles.

  1. Start by getting on all fours.
  2. Place your forearms on the ground and stack your shoulders directly above your elbows.
  3. Keep your hips stacked above your knees and position your feet to keep your toes on the floor.
  4. Take your knees off the ground and form a straight line with your body from head to hips to heels.

7. Parallel Planks

A starting position of a Parallel plank

Push-ups are basically planks in motion. This plank variation, in particular, is meant to perk up your pecs and shape your core.

  1. Get into a high plank pose.
  2. Move your right hand and right foot to the right side.
  3. Maintain this pose for one count and return to the starting pose.
  4. Move your left hand and left foot to the right side.
  5. Continue this side-to-side pattern for one minute.

8. Slow Mountain Climbers

A person doing the slow mountain climber exercise indoors

This movement can relieve pressure on your knees and allow you to identify muscle imbalances.

  1. Get into a high plank position. Ensure that your hips are in line with your back.
  2. Bring your right knee to your left elbow.
  3. Step your right foot back and bring your left knee to your right elbow.
  4. Alternate for 5 to 10 reps on each side.
  5. Make sure to keep your back as straight as possible during the whole duration of this exercise.

9. TRX Chest Fly

A fit woman doing the TRX Chest fly exercise

TRX straps test and improve your strength, balance, and stability.

This exercise will engage the chest, shoulders, core, and a lot of other small stabilizer muscles.

  1. With your back to the anchor, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip (palms facing down).
  3. Put your arms out in front of you at shoulder level.
  4. Lean forward until your body is at a diagonal.
  5. Carefully spread your arms out to a “T,” but keep your elbows slightly bent as you lower your chest to the ground.
  6. Reverse the movement and go back to the starting position for one rep.

Key Takeaways

Push-ups can be pretty challenging, but luckily, there are plenty of just as good alternatives.

All these alternate moves work the same muscles in your entire body and give you similar benefits.

Try adding these exercises, and our expert also suggests these top-notch protein powder supplements to aid recovery between reps and sets.

After testing, our clients reported getting over their muscle-building plateaus, as well as a faster recovery time.


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