How to Do the Diamond Push-Up
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As exercises go, it’s hard to find fault with the push-up. It’s convenient, challenging, functional, and it builds muscle without beating up your joints. Among the countless variations of this classic move (e.g., T push-up, clapping push-up, archer push-up, decline push-up, offset push-up, etc.) the diamond push-up is one of the simplest and most accessible.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“They’re safer on the shoulder joint,” says trainer Jolie Kobrinsky, RKC, TRX, owner of Prime Fitness in Monterey, CA. “They’re also tougher to perform.”
Want to work this classic upper-body builder into your program? Read on.
How to do Diamond Push-ups
- Assume a push-up position (body straight from head to heels, core engaged, glutes squeezed, hands flat on the floor, and arms straight and in line with your shoulders). Move your hands together so that the tips of your thumbs and index fingers are touching (see the diamond?). This is the starting position.
- Keeping your elbows tucked (don’t let them flare), lower your torso until your chest lightly touches the backs of your hands. (Or as far as you can go without losing proper form.)
- Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.
How to Make the Diamond Push-up Easier
The diamond push-up is an intermediate-level strength exercise — harder than the traditional move, but not as hard as a single-arm or plyometric push-up. Before you attempt this move, you should be able to complete at least 10 regular push-ups in a row.
If you can pull that off but still can’t manage more than a rep or two of the diamond variation, you can make the move easier by performing it with your hands elevated on a table, countertop, bench or railing. As you become stronger, move your hands closer to the ground until you can perform the standard variation of this exercise.
How to Make Diamond Push-ups Harder
Once you can bang out 15 or more consecutive diamond push-ups with your hands on the ground, you can make the move harder in several ways, listed in ascending order of difficulty:
- Pause at the bottom of the move (without resting your chest on the floor).
- Slow down the eccentric (lowering) phase and accelerate the concentric (pushing-up) phase of each rep.
- Perform one-and-a-half reps: lower yourself, go halfway up, lower yourself a second time and go all the way up — that’s one rep.
- Try the move with your feet elevated, starting with a low box or step (an aerobic step works well).
- Perform it while wearing a weighted vest.
- Combine any of the above techniques.
Muscles worked in the Diamond Push-up
- Diamond push-ups redistribute the workload to your upper body’s “pushing” muscles. In traditional push-ups, your chest muscles (pectorals) take the brunt of the work, while the fronts of your shoulders (deltoids) and backs of your arms (triceps) are supporting players. Diamond push-ups increase the emphasis on the triceps and deltoids.
- All types of push-ups (including the diamond push-up) work your core muscles, which are responsible for keeping your spine stable and supported. Those muscles include include the rectus abdominis (i.e., your abs), the transverse abdominis, the external obliques, and the erector spinae.