These five push up moves can build muscle without weights

Lifting dumbbells isn't the only way to develop bigger, stronger muscles

Man doing an elevated push up
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When people think about muscle-building exercises, it's natural to imagine dumbbells, kettlebells, and weights machines. These are effective ways to develop strength, but these five push up variations are an equipment-free way to tone up too.

Learning how to do a push up is an essential part of any exercise program, as it helps build upper-body muscle, work your core, and train your arms. Perfecting your form in this move also creates a foundation for other exercises like the plank.

As it works multiple muscles, the push up is a compound move, allowing you to train several areas of your body at once. Once you've got the hang of the push up, you can make a few tweaks to change which muscles it activates to shake up your routine. 

Fortunately, YouTuber Chris Heria has put together a tutorial for five push up variations that'll work additional parts of your body that the standard move doesn't. You'll get stronger and improve your range of motion for support in other bodyweight moves.

He recommends five moves, including the deadman push up for lifting your whole body weight, the fingertip push up to get stronger wrists and improved grip to help lift heavier weights, and a push up to 90 degrees, where you'll learn to hold your bodyweight.

Watch Chris Heria's push up variations

There's also the deep push up, which helps increase your range of motion and work your chest and triceps. The tutorial ends with the explosive to elevated push up, where you do a standard rep before pushing off the ground to an elevated position.

Although these moves are a great way to build muscle and get stronger without weights, they're ideal for anyone looking to emulate Heria's visually-impressive calisthenics workouts.

The YouTuber, known for his toned physique, made a name for himself using street workouts, a form of calisthenics that relies on bodyweight exercises alone to build muscle in parks, beaches, and other public spaces.

And while the push up is an excellent foundational move to get stronger and work multiple muscle groups, you'll also want to practice how to do pull-ups and dips and perfect the form of your squat.

These push up variations and the other bodyweight moves mean that you'll be in a better position to pick up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells if you want to mix up your training with a few weights sessions as well.

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.