Not only does learning other push-up variations prevent your workout from becoming stale, but different push-up variations can be used to target other muscles that a regular push-up fails to work.
The diamond push-up (also known as the triangle push-up or the close-grip push-up) is one of the most common push-up variations used by those who wish to put more of an emphasis on their triceps.
Read on to find out how to perform the diamond push-up and the benefits for doing so.
How Do You Perform Diamond Push-Ups (Including Correct Form!)
The difference between the diamond push-up and a regular push-up is all down to your hand position.
A regular push up requires you to place your hands flat on the floor in a neutral position at shoulder width apart.
In comparison, the diamond push-up requires you to place your hands much closer together with the tips of your index fingers touching each other, and the tips of your thumbs touching each other.
This should create a diamond-like shape in the space between your hands (or a triangle shape depending on the angle of your thumbs!), as shown in the image above.
With the exception of your hand position, everything else should be exactly the same as a regular push-up. You may find that due to the position of your hands you find it harder to bring your chest down as far as you would with a regular push-up, but don’t worry about this, so long as you concentrate on keeping correct form throughout the whole push-up motion.
Triangle Pushup Up Top
Triangle Pushup Bottom of Rep
I recommend the following form tips for those of you who are either new to the push-up or would simply like to work on improving your form:
- Focus on keeping a straight body position from head to toe throughout each rep. This means engaging the muscles in your abs and glutes throughout the movement to avoid your hips from slouching, similar to when performing a plank. If you are finding this difficult then you may be pushing yourself too fast beyond your current ability. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to drop your knees to the floor to make the exercise easier.
- Continue to breathe with each rep. It’s easy to forget to breathe when trying a new exercise, and holding your breath will only make the movement much harder. Inhale as you lower your body to the floor and exhale as you push your body back upwards.
- Avoid flaring your elbows out too wide. Unlike wide-grip push-ups where your elbows flare out wide, your elbows should remain close to your body as you perform the diamond push-up.
- Do your best to achieve the full range of motion. We all know those people who claim they can do heaps of reps, yet use a sloppy form where they never seem to lower themselves fully or push themselves back up all the way. By not using the full range of motion you neglect certain parts of the muscles used in the push-up, which only results in weak areas. Remember, you’re only cheating yourself!
You should aim to complete 3 sets of 10 reps, with a minute rest between each set.
If you can only complete sets of 2 or 3 reps then don’t worry. Ensure you prioritise correct form and get enough rest between each set, and you will inevitably find you are able to increase your reps with time.
Diamond Push-Up Progressions and Alternatives
If you are finding diamond push-ups too easy or too hard, then read on to find out progressions and alternatives to make the exercise work for you.
If you are finding diamond push-ups too hard then the simplest way to make them easier is to drop your knees to the floor. This reduces the distance between your hands and the point of pivot (your knees), which means the stress on your arms is reduced.
Alternatively, you can place your hands on a raised surface to complete incline diamond push-ups. I’d recommend using a bench, chair, or simply a small stack of books to do this.
If you are finding diamond push-ups too easy then the ideal alternative is to wear a weighted vest to increase the total load you have to push with each rep.
You can also perform decline diamond push-ups by elevating your feet above your hands slightly. As mentioned previously, a bench, chair, or small stack of books is perfect to place your feet on.
Alternatively, you could move on to a harder push-up variation. If you’re really up to a challenge, you could even try Handstand push-ups!
Which Muscles to Diamond Push-Ups Work?
Push-ups most prominently work the pectoralis major (chest), the triceps brachii (triceps) and the deltoids (shoulders), though different push-up variations can have a different emphasis on each of these muscles.
The standard recommendation from personal trainers and athletes alike is that a wider grip push-up will put a greater emphasis on the chest, and less emphasis on the triceps, whilst a narrow grip push-up (like the diamond push-up) will put less emphasis on the chest, and a greater emphasis on the triceps.
This is further backed up by a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2005) which examined how muscle activity was affected when performing push-ups using each of the three key hand positions: shoulder width base, wide base, and narrow base.
Interestingly, the study concluded that if the goal is to induce greater muscle activation during the push-up, then narrow grip push-ups are better than wide-grip push-ups for both triceps and chest.
However, the study did note that did not necessarily mean that narrow grip push-ups are better than wide grip push-ups for building the chest; it only proved that more muscle fibres were activated, yet this is likely due to the relatively shortened muscle length of the pectoralis major in the narrow grip position which requires greater motor unit activation