military style push ups in the army

Whether you are applying for the ADF, or a serving member and even thinking about applying for Special Forces (SF) there is one exercise you cannot escape: the PUSH UP. Seems like a relatively simple movement to master; however I have personally seen many people fail this portion of the Special Forces Entry Test (SFET). In this article we will discuss a whole range of different  push ups. Hopefully this can help to add variety to your workouts and help develop that base strength to get you through the Basic Fitness Assessments (BFA) or even help prepare for selection.

Cadence Push-Up

cadence push ups are used for special forces entry test in the military
Cadence push-ups are the standard for SF selection in Australia.

Thinking about SF selection?  Well get comfortable with these bad boys. Cadence push ups are standard push-ups performed at a specific pace or rhythm. 

What makes a cadence push-up tough is that you don’t get any breaks between repetitions. As you do more reps, your movements will start to slow down, but the cadence – that rhythm you’re following – stays the same. At first, you might feel like you’re catching a breather in between rounds, but that feeling goes away quickly, and you’ll find yourself doing push-ups back-to-back without much rest.

Tricep Military Push-Up

Tricep push ups are a common exercise in the military
Adding tricep push-ups into your training is a good way to diversify your push-up routine and helps target target the larger muscle groups in your upper body.

The tricep military push-up is one that is used often during Army PT or any other military training. This requires you to have your hands closer than shoulder-width, tucked in by your chest as close as possible so that most of the weight is distributed on your triceps. And you explode back up once you reach the bottom.

Incorporating these military-style push-up variations into your training regimen can amplify your muscle gains and provide a fresh style of training to target the larger muscle groups in your upper body. 

Hand Release Push-Up

Hand release push-ups allow for you to use controlled form on both the eccentric and concentric movements, engaging chest and triceps in a different way than a regular push-up. Hand release push push-up is also considered military style push-ups, because they incorporate these during workouts or PT. 

Performing hand release push-ups are best when completing them as slowly as possible on the negative movement (going down), releasing, then pushing up and paying close attention to keeping your body parallel to the floor. Keeping your spine in alignment will allow for you to feel the deep stretch in your shoulders. 

Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups, often referred to as “the triceps killer,” are a variation that demands perfect form and intense triceps engagement. Placing your hands close together, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers, not only shifts the focus to your triceps but also targets the inner chest. As you lower yourself down, your elbows should remain close to your body, maximizing the contraction in your triceps. Your chest should touch the tops of your hands, and as soon as you touch, come back out of the push-up with power!

Muscles Targeted by a Diamon Push-Up

The Diamond push-up variation is particularly effective in building the horseshoe shape of the triceps and strengthening the stabilizing muscles around your shoulder joints. Incorporating diamond push-ups into your routine can lead to a more “rounded” shape to your chest since it also hits the inside of your chest muscles.

T Push-Ups

T push-ups introduce an element of asymmetry, creating a unilateral challenge to provide core activation and use of your stabilizing muscles in each arm. This variation not only promotes muscle growth but also highlights any imbalances that might exist between your left and right sides. 

Starting in a standard push-up position, lower yourself to the ground, come back up and take one arm off the floor, reaching it high to the sky, allowing your eyes to gaze to the tips of your fingers, while shifting your body weight to the opposite side. This allows for a stretch in your chest which elongates your muscles! You are almost in a side plank position, but with both feet in a push-up position.

Muscles Targeted by T Push-Ups

T push-ups targets and stretches the triceps and chest of the extended arm while also engaging your core to stabilize the body. Your abs should feel the tension while in the pseudo side plank position. Integrating T push-ups can lead to a more balanced physique and improved functional strength.

Clapping Push-Ups

Clapping push-ups feature a clap in mid-air
Clapping push-ups feature a clap in mid-air. They recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers and help build your power output.

Clapping push-ups introduce an explosive element that not only engages your triceps and chest but also enhances your power output. In addition to building strength, clapping push-ups work on your hand eye coordination. The explosive push-off the ground, followed by a clap in mid-air, requires rapid and forceful muscle contraction. This is a more advanced push-up variation, so we recommend you work on getting the basics down before working on your clapping push-ups.

Muscles Targeted by Clapping Push-Ups

Clapping Push-Ups recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers, essential for generating power and explosiveness. Additionally, clapping push-ups contribute to better hand eye coordination and proprioception, as you learn to control your body’s movement through the air. Incorporate these dynamic push-ups to elevate your athleticism and impress your future girlfriend. 

Spiderman Push-Ups

Spiderman push-ups combine triceps, chest, and shoulder engagement with core activation and hip mobility. As you lower yourself down, bring one knee towards the elbow on the same side. Think of the way spiderman moves, hence the name, while crawling. You can expect your hip flexors to also get a workout! If you want to add an extra challenge, try to go as slow as possible to feel your core engage.

Muscles Targeted by Spiderman Push-Ups

This lateral movement not only challenges your upper body muscles but also intensifies the work on your core and oblique muscles as you stabilize the body. The stretch and range of motion involved in the movement contribute to improved hip flexibility, making this variation a valuable addition to your workout routine, especially if you’re aiming for a well-rounded fitness level. 

Staggered Push-Ups

Staggered push-ups address muscle imbalances by isolating each side of the chest and triceps. With one hand positioned slightly higher (or in front) of the other, you create an uneven load that forces each side to work independently. 

Muscles Targeted by Staggered Push-Ups

This variation is particularly effective in correcting strength discrepancies between your left and right sides, leading to a more symmetric upper body development. Staggered push-ups can be a critical tool for preventing injuries and enhancing functional strength in day-to-day activities.

Elevated Push-Ups

Elevated push-ups (or decline push-ups) intensify the challenge by placing your feet on a raised surface, like a chair. This variation increases the angle between your body and the ground, providing a deeper stretch for your triceps and chest muscles, and allows for more load (weight) to be distributed to your arms.

As you lower yourself down, your muscles are stretched further, leading to increased muscle engagement and recruitment. Elevated push-ups are an effective method to break through plateaus and encourage continued muscle growth. You can always start off with a smaller elevation, and work your way up to a more challenging one. 

Just remember why you are training and what you are training for, this should drive your decision process in selecting which push-ups are best suited for you. And if you are training for selection, train smart, the last thing you want is to arrive at the SFET with nagging injuries. Gradually progress through your training, listen to your body, and consult a fitness professional if you’re new to these exercises or have any concerns.