This post was last updated on May 16th, 2017 at 11:30 pm
We all know why the push-up is great (and if you don’t, check out this article).
But there is more to the push-up. By bringing the hands closer together and forming a diamond shape, the exercise become more difficult and yields additional benefits.
Also called the triangle push-ups or the close hand push-ups, this is an exercise you want to include in your workout for several reasons. Here they are:
1. Increased Tricep Activation
Due to the narrower position of the hands, more of the load is placed on the tricep. In fact, in a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), they found that the diamond push-up is the most effective tricep exercise, followed by dips and tricep kickbacks. This makes them a top choice for people who want to strengthen their triceps or bring more definition to them.
2. Great Chest Workout
Wait, isn’t it common knowledge that the diamond push-ups activate the chest less? Well, this “common truth” isn’t true at all. What the narrow position does is place more stress on the pec minor and the pec major, compared to the wide position, which is wrongly thought to activate the chest more (Source).
Contrary to common sense, the only thing the wide version does is put your shoulders in an unnecessarily bad position, which can be a cause of injury.
3. Progression Towards One Arm Push-ups
Many people want to get to the one arm push-up simply because it is badassness personified. But few know the right progressions. Once you are comfortable with normal push-ups (you can do at least 20 perfect repetitions), the next step is the triangle push-up. Then, you can progress to archer and finally, one arm variations. By then, you won’t have to worry about the size of your triceps (or maybe because they will be too big).
4. Greater Balance Requirement
Since the hands are closer, they form a smaller base of support. If you couple that with the feet being together, you get an exercise that has a big balance component. Therefore, it will tax your core more: especially your internal and external obliques, the muscles responsible for trunk rotation.
5. Strong(er) Shoulders
The push-ups all work the shoulders, especially the anterior deltoid. However, diamond push-ups put more pressure on the shoulder joint, which is excellent for preparing your for further variations, in particular the pseudo planche push-up, which has the highest anterior deltoid requirements.
Diamond Push-up How-to
Set up like you would for a normal push-up: body tight and straight, hands underneath the shoulders, arms extended.
Then keep that same position and bring your hands closer to make a triangle shape. The ends of your thumbs and first fingers should be touching.
From there, bring your chest down to the hands slowly and explode back up. Repeat until those triceps burn.
Remember not to flare your elbows out too much and keep them close to your body. The temptation to do it with wrong form is bigger than with regular push-ups as there is less space to fit your arms, but keep your form strict and you will reap the rewards. A 45 degree angle between your arm and your body is what you should aim for.
Also don’t allow your hands to go in front of your shoulders. In the bottom position, your hands should touch your sternum. If you want even more tricep activation, you could move your hands closer to your face: that would be called tricep push-ups and are a different, more advanced bodyweight exercise.
Sometimes people start with the diamond push-ups too fast and get elbow pain. That is because the narrow hand position places a lot more load on the elbows. If you experience pain, rest and then return back to normal push-ups and this time, slowly bring your hands together over the course of a few weeks. Remember, injuries only prolong the time it takes to get to your goals.
To recap, diamond push-ups are a great choice for building the size and strength of your triceps, as well as the chest and deltoids. When regular push-ups become too easy, they are a great progression and a stepping stone to advanced push-up variations. They should be a staple of your workout or interchangeable with dips for maximum tricep and chest gains.