Push Up Annihilation

Annihilate – To defeat completely; vanquish.

That’s right people, we’re going beyond domination to destruction territory. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together…you get the point.

In my last post, I welcomed you to the wild and wonderful world of pushups. The variations in that post were all different ways of using your own bodyweight as resistance, but now that you’ve gotten your hands dirty and have a solid lay of the land, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Pushups have gotten a bad rep as far as strength and muscle building goes. When you’re starting out and can barely do one with good form they’re an appropriate exercise, but what happens when you can knock out 30 without even breaking a sweat? That’s what the nay sayers will use to dissuade you from this awesome exercise, but just like any other exercise, when it gets to easy then it’s time to progress to something more difficult.

Explosive Pushups

I think that this is the next step after a basic pushup is achieved. Instead of simply pushing into the ground & providing enough force to push yourself back up, you’re now pushing through the ground with enough force to launch into the air. This increase in force production increases the difficulty of the exercises and will definitely reduce the number of reps that you’re able to do compared to conventional pushups.

Unstable Surfaces

Now you’re getting both a strength benefit as well as a core and stabilization effect as well. Think about what’s harder, doing a pushup from the ground with 45lbs on your back, or doing that same pushup while trying to keep your arms from snapping off from the instability of the surface that you’re using? These variations can be achieved by using a suspension system such as the TRX, gymnastic rings or even a simple stability ball.

External Resistance

This is the big daddy right here. Simply put, if you’re not getting stronger over time then you’re seriously hindering your progress, and the easiest way to overcome this is to increase the load via external resistance. It doesn’t matter if you use weights, chains, resistance bands or have little people sit on your back while you do them, the key is to get stronger. If you start off only being able to do one push up with a band wrapped around your back, but after a couple of months you’re able to do 20, you have gotten stronger. Now it’s time to make it harder.

Single Arm Variations

Taking an exercise that you normally do with two limbs and demanding that your body perform it with only one is the epitome of hard. Aside from a one arm chin up, this is the hardest upper body exercise that there is, and it requires a perfect blend of strength and stability from the entire body, otherwise a weak link will expose itself and the exercise will look sloppier than a 1st grade art fair. Just like the regular push up, some of you will have to work your way up to doing a nice, crisp single arm push up from the floor, but there are enough variations to use along the way that’ll get you there with enough dedication and persistence.

Do you have any questions about the use of push ups? Want to know which variation is best for you and your goals? Lemme know in the comment section and I’ll be more than happy to help.

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  1. RJ says

    Nice additions, though watching the “weighted belt pushup” the concern that possible gains my not be proportionate to a potential painful “loss” – can you say de-sexification! 😉

    • says

      Man, who are you telling! I had to shoot this video twice because during the first take the chain came pretty close to de-sexifying me for sure lol. I need to get a better weight belt pronto.

  2. Clement says

    Roger, if I wanted to gain strength and size, I’m thinking that I should do weighted or suspended pushups. I have no bench, as you know, and have to rely on floor presses and pushups for horizontal pressing!

    However, plate pushups above 25kg aren’t really easy to perform (I only have bumper plates up to 25kg). Would you say that I should focus on one-armed pushups, then?

    Using Pavel’s techniques, I can now perform 2 perfect one-armed pushups per arm. However, I feel that my core strength might be the limiting factor.

    • says

      Hey Clement,

      I’d definitely make sure that your core strength is up to snuff – plank variations would be great at improving that aspect. You could do 1 arm push ups from an elevated surface so that you can do more than just 2 reps, but you also want to get some additional volume in there, so the bodyweight variations would be very helpful in that respect – things like the side to side pushup, around the world pushup, etc.

      • Clement says

        Thanks for your advice, Roger!

        I’ve been trying out Martin Rooney’s 4min push-up challenge up to twice a week.

        Essentially, it involves aiming for 100 push-ups in 4min.

        It’s MUCH tougher than it sounds!

  3. says

    Why aren’t you posting your content on the All-Access FA website as well. It will only increase your exposure and create an even bigger following than you already have in town.

    You write great. I like your content as it is both interesting and fun. You clearly connect with the readers. Let’s discuss more on Monday if we have some time, or definitely when I get back from vacation. Thanks man.
    Keep up the good work.

    Best Regards,

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