EstimatedEst. Read Time: 4 minutes
How to Hit EVERY Muscle with a Pushup! (TOTAL BODY)

The pushup is one of the most versatile upper body exercises you can do and it doesn’t require any equipment at all. The key to its versatility however is understanding all the different pushup variations that allow you to hit every muscle with this popular home bodyweight exercise. In this video, I’m going to show you 18 different pushup variations that will allow you to hit your chest, quads, shoulders, back, triceps, core and even your legs.


We start with the obvious chest targeting that the pushup affords. The push-up is probably best known for its ability to help you build a bigger a chest, especially when training from home. That said, you can increase the stimulation on the chest if you do what is shown. First, instead of trying to push your body off the ground you want to think about squeezing your body off the ground. The best way to do this is by applying an inward force on the hands which will create an isometric adduction of the arms. This increases chest muscle activation and recruitment.

You can also perform something called the rotating pushup. This uses relative adduction which also helps to increase the activation of the pecs and better chest results over the long term.


We can also influence the amount of shoulder work we get from the pushup. Here, you want to move your hands back closer to your waist. This immediately shifts the majority of the workload to the front delts rather than the chest. Obviously, changing the angle of your body will also have an impact on the amount of work done by the shoulders. A pike or handstand pushup variation is sure to place a heavy overload on the delts. Even a middle delt variation can be done to simulate the action of a side lateral raise without needing a single dumbbell.

The interesting thing is that not just the triceps, chest and shoulders can be influenced by the right variation of a pushup. You can also get muscle groups involved that aren’t typically involved in this popular bodyweight exercise.


The best example of this is with the sliding pulldown pushup. You are re-creating one of the best back and lat exercises, the straight arm pushdown, and adding a pushup to the end of every rep. Here you lay face down on a slick floor like a tile or wood floor. You pull your body across the floor by adducting your elbows tight and into your sides. At the top of the pull, perform a pushup and then smoothly slide your body back out until you get a great stretch on your lats.

Other more direct back exercises such as the back widow can be performed as well to hit more than just the lats. The upper back muscles including the rhomboids, upper traps and posterior deltoid are hit hard by this amazing posterior chain pushup version.


Lastly, it’s not only possible to train your legs with a pushup but one variation in particular may be one of the best of any pushup you can do. This would be the glute/ham raise push-up. Here you are going to eccentrically contract the glutes and hamstrings to lower yourself to the ground and utilize the push to get yourself back up to the halfway point, at which point your glutes and hams can contract to power you back to the top.

The quads can also get in on the action with a more conditioning based variation called the rolling squat pushup or something more targeted to their prime action of extending the leg under load with the TKE pushup.


The fact is, this exercise can be much more than just a great chest, tricep and shoulder builder. Use some of the push-up variations shown here and see just how much more muscle growth you can get out of your body with just a single move. If you are looking for a comprehensive, step by step home workout program that requires no equipment at all, be sure to head to via the link below and check out the ATHLEAN XERO program.

For more pushup variations and home exercises to build chest and upper body muscles, be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel via the link below and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

Build Muscle in 90 Days –
Subscribe to this channel here –

Watch the YouTube version of this article
Jeff Cavaliere Headshot

Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS

Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.

Read more about Jeff Cavaliere by clicking here

Popular & Trending
stop doing face pulls like this facepull mistake
How To Do Face Pulls
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
September 9th, 2019
Face pulls are one of the best corrective exercises to help offset poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.  They help strengthen the chronically weak...
Body Fat Percentage Men
Body Fat Percentage Men
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 11th, 2023
There are many ways to measure body fat percentage; some wildly expensive and most inaccurate. It's time to give you an alternative method that...
2 reasons your biceps aren't growing and 3 ways to fix it
Why Your Biceps Aren’t Growing
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
August 22nd, 2019
Have you ever felt that no matter how much you trained your biceps you’re left saying… “My Biceps STILL Aren’t Growing?” I believe I know...
The Perfect Abs Workout
The Perfect Abs Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 31st, 2019
We’ll be following my ‘Six Pack Progression’ sequence as we choose each of the beginner and advanced ab exercises for each abdominal movement...
incline bench press avoid mistakes for upper chest
How To Incline Bench Press Correctly
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
January 16th, 2024
The Incline Bench Press is one of the best upper chest exercises there is, but there's one major problem preventing us from getting the maximum...
best dumbbell exercises for chest
The Best Dumbbell Exercises for Chest
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
November 6th, 2023
Today I’m going to share my favorite chest exercises… but there’s a catch. We can only use dumbbells! I’ll show you what to do whether you...
long head triceps exercises
Long Head Tricep Exercises
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
December 19th, 2023
The triceps make up two-thirds of the size of your arm so the bigger your triceps, the bigger your arm muscles. But not all muscle heads of the...
cable chest workout
Cable Chest Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
November 2nd, 2023
Today, we're diving deep into the most underrated piece of equipment in your workout arsenal for chest workouts – the cable machine. The constant...
Cable Back Workouts
Cable Back Workouts
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
December 12th, 2023
If you want a versatile back workout that hits every angle, challenges muscle recruitment patterns, and provides consistent tension, then you can’t...
cable shoulder exerciees
Cable Shoulder Exercises
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
November 30th, 2023
Unlike barbell or dumbbell shoulder workouts, cables offer consistent tension throughout the exercise, a key factor that can lead to better...