Football, Baseball and Basketball Push-Up Variations | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Football, Baseball and Basketball Push-Up Variations

October 16, 2012 | Joseph Potts

Must See Strength Training Videos

As a total-body exercise, the Push-Up is the complete package. Executed properly, this compound movement effectively works the entire upper body, abdominal section and even the legs. However, there is more to the Push-Up than the basic movement.

Push-Up variations are too often overlooked for developing strength and power. The professional Arena football player featured in the video video is capable of bench pressing over 375 pounds; but manipulating the intensity or volume of Push-Ups challenges even an athlete at his level. (See the STACK Push-Up Guide for additional techniques.)

Here's a rundown of some great ways to vary your Push-Ups to build a stronger total body for your specific sport.


Clap Push-Up

This variation is great for developing upper body power, particularly useful in football, where players often forcefully extend their arms to create distance between themselves and opponents, or to throw off their timing.

To perform:

  • Start in standard push-up position
  • Instead of slowly rising to top position, explosively extend arms to launch your torso into the air, high enough to allow you to clap your hands together
  • Catch yourself and lower to start position
  • Repeat for specified repetitions


Alternating Med Ball Push-Up

This is ideal for baseball players, because the uneven contact points and instability of the medicine ball shift the center of gravity during the movement, thereby increasing core stabilization. The back is not braced against any surface, and the scapulae are free to move, like they do when you throw a baseball. (Check out more Med Ball Variations.)

To perform:

  • Start in standard push-up position with medicine ball under one hand
  • Extend arm as you shift weight
  • Move body across ball while changing hands


Push-Up with Row

This adaptation is good for basketball players, because it strengthens both the anterior and posterior upper body musculature. The pushing and pulling motions work each muscle group in an antagonistic/agonistic fashion. This variation also requires a good amount of core strength to execute properly.

To perform:

  • Place two dumbbells where you would normally position your hands
  • Grasp dumbbells and assume standard push-up position
  • Perform Push-Up
  • After returning to start position, row right dumbbell to side of chest
  • Repeat Push-Up and row left dumbbell to side of chest
  • Repeat for specified reps

Coaching points:

  • Stabilize the core
  • Don't allow torso and hips to rotate while performing the rowing movement

Topics: PUSH-UP
Joseph Potts
- Joseph Potts, CSCS, is director of sports performance training at TopSpeed Strength & Conditioning (Kansas City), where he oversees athletes training for multiple sports. He...
Joseph Potts
- Joseph Potts, CSCS, is director of sports performance training at TopSpeed Strength & Conditioning (Kansas City), where he oversees athletes training for multiple sports. He...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Why Push-Ups Are Great and 5 Ways to Make Them Harder

I recently joined the team at Cressey Sports Performance astheir head group fitness instructor, and have come to notice that a lot of everyday people...

The Push-Up Primer: Fix Your Weak Core Muscles

Why Baseball Players Shouldn't Bench Press

3 Challenging Muscle-Building Push-Ups

Why Proper Exercise Form Is Crucial for Young Athletes

10 Powerful Push-Up Variations

Push-Up Equipment That Works

Perform Perfect Push-Ups

Exercise of the Day: Plank Push-Ups

No-Nonsense Push-Up Plan for Guaranteed Results

We Did It! 100,000 Push-Ups for Charity

4 Push-Up Variations For A Bigger Chest and Arms

Ask the Experts: How Can I Use Stairs to Work Out?

Is This the Ultimate Push-Up Variation?

Push-Up Progressions for Women

15 'Next Level' Push-Up Variations

Exercise of the Week: Push-Up to T

Build Upper Body Strength With a Push-Up Progression

STACK Challenge: Spider-Man Push-Ups

Exercise of the Week: Army Push-Up

Exercise of the Week: Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up

Exercise of the Week: Chain Push-Ups

Push-Up Workout to Build Needed Baseball Muscle

Improve Your Bench Press With Perfect Push-Up Form

Push-Up Variations: Top 11 List

Push-Ups: The Best Bodyweight Exercise

The Gambling Man's Push-Up Workout

3 Push-Up Routines to Build the Complete Athlete

The Ultimate Push-Up Workout Plan

The Perfect Push-Up: No Equipment Needed

Exercise of the Week: Band Diamond Push-Up

Improve Full-Body Stability With Three BOSU Exercises

Back to the Basics: Why You Must Do Push-Ups

Tune-Up Your Push-Up