The Benefits of the Diamond Push Up
The diamond push up is an effective bodyweight exercise that prioritizes your triceps and promotes strength gain. Unlike classic push ups, the objective is to keep your hands close together, forming a diamond shape between your thumbs and index fingers. Doing so prevents your chest from contributing and forces your triceps to do most of the work.
Aside from developing the tricep, the movement is fantastic for developing your pressing strength and shoulder stability, making you functional and more athletic. We recommend adding the diamond push up near the middle of your workouts and doing as many slow and controlled repetitions as possible.
Level of Exercise: Intermediate
How to do a Diamond Push Up
- Get down on all fours and bring your hands together. Your thumbs and index fingers should be in contact or just an inch apart, forming a diamond shape.
- Engage your core and extend your body, supporting your legs on your toes. Your hands should be underneath your lower chest.
- Squeeze your abs and glutes to put your spine in a neutral position and retract your shoulder blades. Your body should be in a straight line, with your shoulders, hips, and ankles aligned when seen from the side.
- Take a breath and descend by bending your elbows.
- Move down until your chest is a few inches off the floor, and pause for a moment.
- Extend your elbows to bring yourself back to the top position, straightening your arms fully.
- Take another breath and repeat.
What muscles does diamond push up activate?
The primary muscles that work during a diamond push up are the triceps, which make up the rear of our upper arms and produce elbow extension (straightening of the arm) (1, 2). Having your hands close prevents your chest from contributing as much, forcing your tricep to do most of the work.
Our chest (pectoralis major) contributes to a minor degree during the diamond push up (1). However, the muscle covers the front of the upper torso and plays a role in many arm motions, including pressing something away from ourselves (3).
Similarly, performing push-ups is beneficial for activating the serratus anterior, which covers the lateral portions of the torso, originating from the ribcage and inserting into the scapula (4).
The shoulders (deltoids) also activate during the movement, and their primary function is to assist the chest and triceps during each repetition. Our deltoids also promote shoulder stability, allowing us to maintain a steady position as we move up and down.
Aside from the muscles with an active role, this form of push up develops the midsection as all muscles in the area flex isometrically to promote torso stability.
Progression into the Diamond Push Up
Diamond push ups are more challenging than the regular version because they require greater tricep strength. You might be able to do a few push ups, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can do diamond push ups.
Begin by strengthening your triceps with effective exercises. Close-grip bench pressing is a fantastic option because you can control the resistance and gradually overload your triceps with more weight. Start with an empty barbell and increase the load over time.
Most people can do their first diamond push-up by the time they can safely close-grip press 135 to 155 pounds. Other practical exercises for the triceps include EZ-bar skullcrushers, dumbbell triceps extensions, and rope cable triceps extensions.
As you work on strengthening your triceps, you should also start doing push-ups to get used to the movement pattern and gradually bring your hands closer together. You can even begin doing knee diamond push ups––a more accessible version of the exercise where you have to press a smaller percentage of your body weight.
Transition to incline diamond push ups once you’ve built some strength and are used to exercise. You can perform the variation by pushing yourself off an elevated object, such as a chair or gym bench.
Variations and Modifications of the Diamond Push Up
1. Regular Push-Up
Regular push-ups are a great variation you can include in your training. The primary difference is that your hands are spaced apart, allowing your chest to contribute more to the exercise. Classic push ups are also easier to perform and can work as part of your progression for diamond push ups.
2. Knee Diamond Push-Ups
Knee diamond push ups are a more accessible version of the exercise that works well as part of your progression. The objective is to support your lower body on your knees, resulting in you having to press a smaller percentage of your body weight.
3. Incline Diamond Push-Ups
Incline diamond push ups are a slightly more challenging variation of knee push ups and work well as part of your progression. The objective is to extend your body but place your hands against an elevated surface, such as a chair, gym bench, or kitchen counter. Doing so would make the exercise more accessible, allowing you to practice proper technique and build your triceps strength.
Mistakes to Avoid
Flaring Your Elbows
Flaring your elbows is one of the most common push-up mistakes you must avoid for optimal performance and shoulder health. Trainees often make the mistake because they place their hands too high relative to their torso and start with their elbows pointing to each side, forcing their shoulders to elevate. Instead, avoid the error by positioning your hands underneath your lower chest as you set up for each set. Doing so will place your shoulders in a much better position and improve your performance.
Shortening The Range of Motion
The second common error with the exercise is shortening the range of motion. One reason is lacking strength for complete repetitions. Another is that people set themselves up incorrectly, limiting their range of motion. Aside from setting yourself up by following our recommendations, you should pick a variation you have strength for, be it a knee or incline diamond push up.
Similar Exercises to the Diamond Push Up
Chest dips are not traditionally known as a tricep exercise, but they work great. Like diamond push ups, dips are a bodyweight exercise that overloads your muscles, promoting growth and strength gain. Again, your triceps play a considerable role because they assist the chest as you descend (dip) and engage in extending your arms on the way up.
Bench Press – Close Grip (Barbell)
The close-grip barbell press is similar to diamond push ups because both movements emphasize your triceps (5). However, using a narrow grip on a barbell puts your chest at a mechanical disadvantage, forcing your tricep to do most of the work.