Whatever advances have been made in fitness over the last 100 or so years, few can rival the perfection of the push-up for improving and maintaining overall fitness. The only moves that come close, really, are push-up variations, twists on the original—like, for example, the diamond push-up.

“Diamond push-ups provide all of the benefits of a normal push-up, with a special focus on triceps and center chest if done properly,” says Christopher Vo, group fitness instructor for Equinox+. And triceps are important because they help power forearm movement and stabilize the shoulder, thereby reducing risk of injury.

This added pressure on the triceps can make diamond push-ups feel more difficult than regular push-ups, but the burn is well worth it. In addition to their unique benefits, diamond push-ups offer all the same benefits as regular push-ups, meaning they work your shoulder muscles, delts, and traps, too. Actually, they engage the entire body, strengthening many muscle groups at once, including the oh-so-important core. Regular practice of the diamond push-up, then, can improve overall health, since muscle strength helps to improve bone strength, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and enable everyday mobility. The ability to do a push-up has been linked to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, too.

And the diamond push-up, just like its traditional counterpart, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere, which means there’s virtually no excuse for not incorporating them into your fitness regimen.

How to perform a diamond push-up

Before attempting the below, Vo notes that it’s important to avoid these common form mistakes: flaring out the elbows; aiming for the head and neck to meet the hands as opposed to the lower part of the sternum; overextending the thumbs to a diamond shape as opposed to triangle; and/or sagging the hips and head.

1. Begin in a plank.
2. Place hands in a triangle shape with thumbs horizontal and other fingers facing diagonally in towards each other.
3. Keeping elbows angled downward towards hips (as opposed to flaring out to the sides), lower the chest, aiming to get the lower part of the sternum right over the hands.
4. Keeping the body moving in one unit, press through the hands and squeeze in the center of the chest to come back to plank position.

If you’re struggling with this move, Vo offers twists on the traditional diamond that’ll help you ease into the full monty. “The first one is a regression-drop to the knees to shorten the lever or anchor point,” he says. “And if you are having difficulty performing the push-up in one movement, break it into two parts. First, negative release to the floor and offload your weight onto your hands and the floor. Next, take a moment to muster up the strength to push-up in one fell swoop.”

And once you’ve mastered the full diamond push-up, there’s always room to turn up the heat to increase the burn. “Try a single leg option to add balance and core challenge,” Vo says. “If you’re feeling super strong, try adding a pulse at the bottom position!”

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