What Is the Hardest Push-Up?
In elementary school gym class, physical fitness tests meant calisthenics and strength challenges, like push-ups, pull-ups and squats. The number of repetitions of a traditional push-up has always been a standard by which many beginners and kids — and adults — have tested their upper body strength.
There are certain push-up variations besides the normal push-up that will challenge even the most seasoned of weight lifters and strength training gurus. What are they? Here are our top four. Are you strong enough to complete a set of 10 of each of these with a full range of motion?
Jack LaLanne, known as the godfather of fitness, can be credited with creating one of the hardest push-up variations on Earth. Sometimes referred to as the LaLanne Fingertip Push-Up, this push-up variation is most commonly called the Superman Push-Up.
- Lie flat on the ground, extending your arms and legs as far as you can
- Begin the push-up by pressing your fingertips and toes into the ground
- Then push through your fingertips, only using your toes to keep you grounded, and bring your body off the ground
This push-up variation requires not only great chest muscle strength, but relies heavily on muscle groups like your core, deltoids and triceps to push your entire body weight off the ground with no equipment or
One-arm push-ups are still challenging even for seasoned weight lifters.
Begin a one-arm push-up by getting into the standard push-up position. Except for this variation, widen your feet, so they’re wider than shoulder width. Place one hand behind your back and slowly lower yourself to the ground.
Applying the concept of plyometrics to push-ups makes them even more challenging.
Plyometric push-ups involve an explosive push off the floor, where your hands and chest come flying off the floor. For an added degree of difficulty, you can attempt to clap before gravity brings you back down.
Aside from the clap push-up, one of the most challenging plyometric push-ups is the Aztec Push-Up. These push-ups have the same starting position as any other version, but as you explode up from the bottom, you drive your entire body into the air, and your goal is to touch your hands to your toes.
You then quickly straighten your hands and feet back out to break your fall if you fail in the middle of a rep.
Arguably the absolute toughest variation of the regular push-up, though, is the Planche Push-Up. Not only does this push-up require tremendous pec strength, but it also requires that you have strong wrists, hands, forearms and shoulders.
It’s an incredibly difficult variation to perform because you must first master the planche position. The planche is one of the hardest gymnastic moves to perform and is the base for this push-up variation.
When your body is in the planche position, your center of gravity presides over your hands. With your legs off the ground, and your hands, arms, and shoulders supporting your entire weight you’ll need a tremendous amount of strength to execute this push-up.
Eric Bach is a personal trainer, author of The Power Primer, and fitness business consultant in Denver, Colorado. His passion is simplifying fitness, helping clients get great results through the ruthless execution of the basics. Find out more on his website Bach Performance, or hang out on Facebook.