Diamond pushups have their advantages but not everyone likes them. Find out what diamond pushup alternatives offer similar effects.
The unique hand position of diamond pushups changes in what ratio you work your muscles.
More specifically, you work your triceps more and your chest and shoulder muscles less. Besides these, diamond pushups also work your core to a small extent.
In turn, you can definitely say that building muscle mass is one of the potential benefits of diamond pushups.
Whether you don’t enjoy diamond pushups, find them uncomfortable, or want an alternative for any other reason, these diamond pushup substitutes can offer you some or all of the same benefits.
Keep in mind that if regular diamond pushups are too challenging for your muscles, you can also start with the diamond version of a knee pushup.
1. Other (tricep) pushup variations
The hand position of diamond pushups definitely helps you work your tricep muscles more but some people find it an uncomfortable way to do so.
There are also plenty of more comfortable pushup variations that focus on tricep muscles or other things. One challenging example is the sphinx pushup. To do this exercise take the following steps:
Take the following steps to do a sphinx pushup:
- Start on your forearms and knees with your elbows slightly more backward than your shoulders and your forearms pointing in straight lines forward.
- Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels and your elbows are slightly more backward than your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line during the rest of the exercise.
- Slowly push your body up in the air with the help of your triceps until your arms are slightly less than stretched. Keep your elbows close to your upper body, do not flare them outward.
- Lower your body back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
For most people, sphinx pushups will currently be too challenging. Another simpler way to make regular pushups focus more on your triceps is by keeping your upper arms close to your body during the movement.
If you are more experienced in tricep training you may even need to make sphinx pushups more challenging. You can wear a weighted vest or hold a weight plate on your back to do this.
2. Tricep dips
You need dip bars for this next diamond pushup alternative. These are basically two sturdy horizontal bars. Once you have these, take the following steps to do a tricep dip:
- Place your hands on the dip bars. Start with your arms in an extended but not locked position. You will likely need step-ups to get into this position.
- Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until these are at a 90-degree angle.
- Raise yourself back up again into starting position in a controlled motion.
The dip exercise is a very tricep-focused exercise but it also engages a few other muscles. Especially if you tilt your upper body forward you also give your lower chest a hard time.
Tricep dips are generally harder than diamond pushups. That means the bodyweight version of this exercise is already more than challenging enough for most people.
Doing weighted dips with dumbbells, a dip belt, a weighted vest, or ankle weights is generally for individuals more experienced with tricep resistance training.
3. Close-grip bench presses
The bench press is one of the most popular chest and tricep compound exercises. For this exercise, you will need a barbell, a weight bench (preferably a flat one if you want to work out your triceps), and a barbell rack (1).
You can also do a close-grip chest press with other free weights and without a bench but the above setup is generally preferred, especially for training your tricep muscles.
Take the following steps to do a close grip bench press with a barbell:
- Load up the barbell with the desired weight.
- Lie down with your back on the weight bench and place your hands with an overhanded grip on the barbell. Keep your hands closer to each other for more tricep engagement.
- Unrack the barbell and keep your arms slightly less than stretched and pointing up.
- Slowly lower the barbell to your chest. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Push the barbell back up in the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.
Similar to pushups, doing the bench press with different hand positions will influence what muscles you mainly target.
By doing the bench press with your hands close to each other you focus more on your tricep muscles compared to the regular version. This makes it more of a diamond pushup alternative.
A benefit of close-grip bench presses is that it is easy to adjust the resistance and to do so to really high weights.
One potential downside is that the equipment requirements for this exercise are a lot more strict compared to diamond pushups.
4. Skull crushers
For skull crushers, you will need some type of resistance and preferably a weight bench. For example, an EZ curl bar potentially with weight plates. In theory, you could also do this diamond pushup alternative on the ground.
Take the following steps to do a skull crusher with an EZ curl bar on a weight bench:
- Lie on the weight bench with an EZ curl bar in your hands. Hold it with an overhanded grip. Your upper arms should lean slightly more back than vertically and your lower arms with the EZ curl bar can hang down behind your head.
- Slowly raise the EZ curl bar by stretching your arms until your arms are fully stretched. Keep your wrists straight and your body and upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
- Lower the EZ curl bar back into starting position in a controlled motion.
Another name for skull crushers is lying tricep extensions. The alternative name for this exercise is not only meant as a joke.
When first trying skull crushers you don’t want to be too optimistic about your capabilities due to the position of the weight. Start with light or no resistance and build up from there.
Skull crushers are an exercise with the goal of isolating your tricep muscles. Even more so than diamond pushups. This lack of chest muscle engagement can be good or bad depending on your training goals.
5. Tricep pull-aparts
The next diamond pushup alternative does require some equipment but good resistance bands are relatively budget-friendly or you may already have them.
Once you have resistance bands, take the following steps to do a tricep pull-apart:
- Stand upright with your feet at about shoulder width. Lift up your upper arms until they are at about a horizontal line. Fold your arms as much as possible and point your forearms inward. Hold a resistance band in your hands.
- Pull the resistance band apart by moving your forearms horizontally outward until your arms are in one horizontal line. Keep your body and upper arms in the same position during the exercise.
- Move your hands back into starting position in a controlled motion.
The regular pull-apart is a typical resistance band shoulder exercise but by making your forearms the only body part that moves you target your triceps instead.
Similar to the previous exercise, tricep pull-aparts are a tricep isolation exercise.
6. Machine chest presses
The chest press machine is basically the popular bench press exercise in machine form.
Instead of using a barbell and lying down on a weight bench, the weights have a fixed motion and you are sitting down with your back against back support.
You can describe this machine exercise as a compound chest exercise but barely so.
On top of removing your core muscles from the exercise, you don’t even need to use balancing muscles to move the resistance in the right trajectory.
Typical machine chest presses definitely focus more on your chest muscles than diamond pushups but at the same time, they have a relatively narrow focus on your chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles.
You don’t have to do any balancing or keep your back straight.
At the same time, some chest press machines allow you to switch up the settings so you can do a “narrow-grip” press.
This will focus more on your tricep muscles and less on your chest and shoulder muscles which would make this more of a diamond pushup alternative.
7. Seated overhead tricep extensions
For seated overhead tricep extensions you need something sturdy to sit on and some type of resistance. In the example below a dumbbell is used but other free weights, resistance bands, and a cable machine can work too.
Take the following steps to do a seated overhead tricep extension with a dumbbell:
- Sit upright on a sturdy object. Hold a dumbbell above your head with your hands at the highest of the two weights of the dumbbell. Keep your wrists straight throughout the exercise.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head by folding your arm at the elbow until your lower arms are at a horizontal line. Keep your upper arms pointing up and close to your body throughout the exercise.
- Raise the dumbbell again in a controlled motion into the starting position.
Overhead tricep extensions are another alternative where you don’t want to be too optimistic about your capabilities because the weight is positioned above you. Start with light resistance and build up from there.
Seated overhead tricep extensions are another example of a tricep isolation exercise.
You can also do this alternative while standing up but this makes it easier to use the rest of your body to move the resistance.
By sitting down you can really isolate your triceps which in turn can lead to more muscle growth and strength progress faster.