Pushups are a classic upper body exercise that helps to improve balance, stability, and posture. However, for various reasons, they may not be the best choice for your individual needs.

Doing pushups with incorrect form or without the proper strength can lead to pain or injury. That’s why it’s important to build up your power and stability before you try them. You can do this by working on pushup alternatives and variations.

Whether you want to change up your existing routine, heal from an injury, or find a less challenging option, there are plenty of simple and effective ways to target some of the same muscles.

Here are five pushup alternatives that provide many of the same benefits as regular pushups, while helping you to stay safe and avoid injury.

Regular pushups target the following muscles:

Alternatives to pushups

Pushup alternatives are an excellent option if you’re new to pushups or fitness since they’ll teach you proper muscle activation. They’re also a great way to change up your regular pushup routine, which will allow you to work your body in a slightly different way.

You can also do these alternatives if you have any injuries or weaknesses, especially in your shoulders, back, or wrists.

This exercise builds strength in your shoulders, upper back, and core. High plank also strengthens your wrists and promotes good posture. It improves your balance, stability, and alignment, which will prime your body for movement when you move on to pushups.

If you want variety or a challenge, there are plenty of plank variations to try.

How to do a high plank

  1. From tabletop position, straighten your legs, raise your heels, and lift your hips.
  2. Elongate your spine and engage your upper body, core, and leg muscles.
  3. Broaden across your chest and draw your shoulders down and back.
  4. Hold for up to 1 minute.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Pro tips

To put less pressure on your wrists, position them slightly wider than your shoulders and turn your fingers out to the side slightly. Press evenly into the pads of your fingers. Or you can make fists with your hands or balance on your forearms.

Muscles targeted by the high plank

The muscles targeted by the high plank include:

The side plank exercise improves endurance, increases stability, and promotes good posture. It allows you to train each side of your body individually, which can help with alignment.

How to do a side plank

Here’s how to do a side plank.

  1. Start in a high plank pose (see instructions above).
  2. Move your left hand in toward the center.
  3. Rotate your body open to the side.
  4. Place your right foot on top of or just in front of your left foot.
  5. Place your right hand on your hip or raise it overhead with your palm facing forward.
  6. Look straight ahead or up toward the ceiling.
  7. Remain in this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Do each side 2 to 3 times.

Pro tips

To make this exercise easier, place your bottom knee on the floor for support. For a challenge, raise your top leg or lower your hips to the floor a few times.

Muscles worked for a side plank

The muscles worked for a side plank include:

  • triceps
  • back
  • abdominals
  • glutes
  • legs

This exercise helps to build muscular endurance, correct muscle imbalances, and improve movement patterns while putting less stress on your wrists. You do it in a supported position, which helps to improve shoulder, core, and hip stability.

How to do a single-arm dumbbell chest press

Here’s how to do this exercise:

  1. Lie on a bench with your head, neck, and right shoulder supported.
  2. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
  3. Position your left shoulder so that it’s slightly off the bench.
  4. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand, close to your chest.
  5. Extend your arm straight above the center of your chest.
  6. Pause for a moment before slowly lowering your hand to the starting position.
  7. Then do the opposite side.
  8. Do 2 to 5 sets of 4 to 12 repetitions.

Muscles worked for a single-arm dumbbell chest press

The muscles worked for this exercise include:

  • shoulder stabilizers
  • pectorals
  • triceps
  • core
  • glutes

This exercise helps to improve balance, agility, and cardiovascular endurance while toning your shoulders, arms, and torso. It’s an excellent option if you have wrist concerns or can only do one side of your body. To make it easier while perfecting your form, you can do this exercise without weights.

How to do standing dumbbell rotational punches

Here’s how to do this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest height.
  3. Pivot your right foot as you rotate your torso to the left.
  4. Extend your right hand to the left side.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Then do the opposite side.
  7. Do 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions.

Muscles worked for standing dumbbell rotational punches

The muscles worked for standing dumbbell rotational punches include:

  • shoulders
  • latissimus dorsi
  • triceps
  • core

This classic exercise builds upper body and pressing strength while putting less strain on your wrists. It also helps to improve muscular endurance. The supported position of your body allows you to focus on your form.

How to do a traditional bench press

Here’s how to do this exercise:

  1. Lie on your back on a workout bench.
  2. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
  3. Press your hips and back into the bench throughout the exercise.
  4. Hold the bar using an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  5. Lift the bar from the stand and lower it until it’s just above the nipple line of your chest.
  6. Pause in this position.
  7. Extend your arms up as high as you can, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  8. Do 1 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.

Muscles worked for a traditional bench press

The muscles worked for a bench press include:

  • anterior deltoids
  • trapezius
  • pectorals
  • triceps

Depending on your current fitness level as well as the duration and intensity of your strength training routine, it may take a few weeks or months to build up to doing full pushups.

Or you may decide not to do them at all.

Either way, make sure you’re doing the alternative exercises safely and taking plenty of time to rest.

As you progress, find ways to vary your routine. This provides you with a challenge and trains you to use your body in different ways. It also helps to prevent boredom and plateauing.

Most of all, have fun with your practice and enjoy the process.