Push-ups are an exercise used widely by beginner to advanced lifters.
However, diamond push-ups may be an even better option for those with strength and size goals for the triceps.
So, what is a diamond push-up? The diamond push-up is a push-up variation in which the index fingers and thumbs touch to make a diamond. The close grip increases the tricep activation and overall difficulty compared to a standard push-up. It is a great option for those looking to increase the size and strength of their triceps.
In this article, I will cover:
- How to do a diamond push-up
- Muscles worked in the diamond push-up
- Diamond push-ups benefits and drawbacks
- How to do diamond push-ups and proper diamond push-up form
- Common mistakes with diamond push-ups and how to avoid them
Diamond Push Up: Overview
Diamond push-ups are a progression of the standard push-up. By placing your hands underneath your chest with your index finger and thumb touching, you make push-ups much harder.
Using this hand position forms a diamond shape, hence the name. Diamond push-ups may also be called triangle push-ups or close-grip push-ups.
Like many other close-grip pressing exercises, such as the close-grip bench press, the diamond cutter push-up emphasizes tricep activation by putting more load through the triceps and less through the chest.
How To Do Diamond Push-Ups With Proper Form
There are four steps to performing a diamond press-up:
- Start by kneeling on the floor and placing your hands on the floor in front of you below your chest. Place your hands together so that your index fingers and thumbs touch, forming a diamond shape.
- Move your feet back to straighten your legs and straighten your arms to hold yourself up. Your torso and legs should be in a straight line with your hands below your chest.
- Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest/face nearly touches the floor. Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout.
- Press yourself back to the start position by extending your arms – you should feel this load through your triceps.
You can also add load by having a weight plate placed on your back. If you train at home without equipment, you can wear a bag packed with household items or a weight vest.
Handles are often recommended for push-ups to help reduce stress on the wrists or make push-ups more difficult by increasing the range of motion. However, they may not be as comfortable to use with a diamond push-up due to the narrow grip.
Read our article Is It Better To Do Push Ups With Handles? (12 Things To Know) to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of doing push-ups with handles.
Diamond Push-Ups: Muscles Worked
The diamond push-up muscles worked are the:
- Pectoralis major (the muscles that make up most of the chest muscles)
- Pectoralis minor (a smaller chest muscle that lies beneath the pectoralis major)
- Triceps brachii (the muscles at the back of the arms)
- Anterior deltoid (the muscles at the front of the shoulders)
- Core muscles
- Upper back
Like dips, the main diamond push-up muscles are the triceps and pecs. However, unlike a traditional push-up, more load will be through the triceps due to the narrower grip.
The upper back muscles stabilize the shoulder, while the core muscles and glutes maintain the straight-line position of your torso and legs throughout the movement.
If you feel the load in your shoulders and lats more than your chest and triceps, read our articles:
- Why Do I Feel Push-Ups In My Shoulders? (4 Reasons)
- Why Do Your Lats Get Sore After Push-Ups? (4 Reasons)
Four Diamond Push-Up Benefits
Below are four benefits of doing diamond push ups.
1. Diamond Push Ups Require No Equipment
As the diamond push-up is a bodyweight exercise performed on the ground, it requires no equipment.
This makes it a great option for those that train at home, in lesser-equipped gyms, or even gyms that just get too busy while you’re waiting for your favorite pressing machine on chest and triceps day.
It is also quick to perform, as it requires no setting up machines or equipment or even waiting for these to be available.
This saves you time in the gym that can be put towards other exercises or allow you to reduce the overall length of your session.
2. Diamond Push-Ups Are More Comfortable for Those With Shoulder Issues
Diamond push-ups allow free movement of the shoulders, making them more comfortable for those with pre-existing issues.
Rather than being locked in place against a bench, the shoulders can move throughout the range of motion to maintain a comfortable and stable position.
3. Diamond Push Ups Are Safe To Take To Failure
If possible, it’s great to include both diamond push-ups and bench presses in your workout for variety. Unlike a barbell bench press or dumbbell bench presses, diamond push-ups are safe to take to failure.
If you fail, you simply lower yourself to the ground rather than trying to maneuver a dumbbell away from you or getting stuck under a barbell.
Unsure how many sets to do when performing diamond push ups? Read our article:
Is It Better To Do Push Ups In Sets Or All At Once?
4. Increased Bench Press Strength
Diamond push ups train the same muscle groups used in the bench press in a comparable range of motion.
They can increase the size and strength of the pecs and triceps, increase overall work capacity of these muscle groups, and help maintain healthy function at the shoulder joint.
For more ways to increase your bench press strength, read our articles:
- Do Push-Ups Help Bench Press? (Yes, Here’s How)
- 17 Exercises To Improve Bench Press Strength (That Actually Work)
Two Drawbacks Of the Diamond Push Up
Despite their benefits, diamond push ups do have a couple of drawbacks.
1. You Are Limited With How Much Load You Can Add
While you can add load by stacking weight plates on your back, this can put you in an unstable position at heavier weights.
If you use more than two plates, they can slide around throughout the movement. You may also be limited by your core strength to hold the position needed to keep the plates on your back.
However, this is only a concern for more advanced lifters who need a lot of weight to make diamond push-ups more challenging.
You can also avoid concerns about stability by adding diamond push-ups to the end of your sessions since you’ll be more fatigued and unable to handle as much weight. You can also add pauses and tempos to help limit the load required while still making diamond push-ups more difficult.
2. They May Aggravate Pre-Existing Elbow Issues
The narrower grip of diamond push-ups and increased loading and range of motion for the elbows and triceps may aggravate pre-existing elbow issues.
If this is the case, you can experiment with your hand position. Don’t let your hands touch but keep your grip narrower than your regular push-up grip width until you find a grip width that’s more comfortable on your elbows.
Three Tips for the Diamond Push Up
Below are my top three tips for performing diamond push-ups effectively.
1. Use a Pause or Tempo
Pauses and tempos (slowing down the downward portion of the rep) are a great way to add intensity to the diamond push-up without adding extra loading. You can try lowering yourself down to a count of three, pausing for a second at the bottom, or pausing halfway up or down.
This will allow you to progress your diamond push-ups weekly while using your body weight and adding more variety to them.
This also means you do not have to rely on a partner to add plates to your back or pile household items into a bag if you train at home.
Read more about push up tempo in our article Is It Better To Do Push Ups Fast Or Slow?
2. Push Sets Close to Failure
As diamond push-ups are safer to take to failure than other pressing options, I highly recommend doing so.
There are not many options for exercises you can safely and confidently take to failure, but this is one of my favorite aspects of the diamond push-up.
If you fail, you simply lower yourself to the ground. You don’t have to worry about getting pinned under a weight. If you have weights on your back, you can slide them off and roll away from them to avoid getting hurt.
Training diamond push-ups to failure also acts as a means of accountability by potentially highlighting that you were not pushing yourself hard enough on your previous sets if you complete notably more reps on your set to failure.
It also gives you a weekly target to beat and track progress on.
3. Keep Your Torso and Legs Aligned
Keeping your torso and legs aligned ensures consistent execution of each set and rep. Like any other exercise, proper diamond push-up technique and consistency allow you to train the target muscles.
Raising your hips upwards will shift loading away from your chest and triceps and into your shoulders. Whereas dropping them too low may mean the hips touch the floor first, limiting your range of motion.
Two Common Mistakes With the Diamond Push Up
Here are two of the most common mistakes I see in people who do diamond push-ups, aside from using the wrong diamond push-ups form.
1. Not Progressing Load, Reps, Or Tempo
Simply repeating the same sets and same reps week after week is not going to be an effective way of training to reach your goals.
Just because the diamond push up is a bodyweight exercise does not mean you should not be aiming to progress the movement in one way or another.
While progress may not be made every session or every week, the goal should be to progress them as often as you can.
This could be by adding load, reps, or sets or by adding more limiting variations such as pauses, tempos, or reducing rest periods.
2. Not Using A Full Range Of Motion
By cutting your range of motion short in the diamond push up, you are also limiting how effective the exercise is.
The goal should be to work through a full range of motion, touching your chest to your hands or bringing your face close to the floor.
What To Do if Diamond Push-Ups Hurt Your Wrists or Shoulders
You might get pain in your wrists when performing any kind of push-up, especially if you don't properly warm up beforehand. This is usually due to structural or functional issues.
The most common functional cause is weakness in the wrist and forearm muscles. Structural issues can include abnormalities in the hand and finger joints or ganglion cysts that form on the wrists.
Luckily, there are things you can do to make push-ups easier and less painful.
- Strengthen your wrists and forearms. You can use a hand gripper to strengthen your forearm muscles. You can also use hair bands or rubber bands to extend and flex your fingers against resistance.
- Stretch the muscles around your wrists to reduce tension in this area of the body. Stretching is also a great way to warm up the wrists before doing diamond push-ups.
- Use push-up handles, which enable you to place your wrists in a neutral position instead of flat on the floor. This will prevent excessive force from being placed through your wrists and reduce pain.
- Avoid fully locking out your elbows. Push your elbows out too far at the top of the push-up can cause excess strain on the joints, leading to pain. Avoid fully locking out your elbows to make the exercise more comfortable.
How To Program Diamond Push Ups
One of the key benefits of the diamond push-up is that it does not require any external equipment. I try to keep it this way when programming it. However, more advanced lifters may want to add loading to these recommendations.
I also like to incorporate a mix of diamond and regular push-ups, as they benefit each other. For example, you can train regular push-ups with higher rep ranges while training diamond push-ups with lower rep ranges. Below is an example of how I would do this in two different workout sessions per week:
- Session One: Diamond Push-Ups – 4-6 sets of 6-10 reps. Start with 4 sets of 6 reps and add reps and/or sets where possible in the following sessions.
- Session Two: Regular Push-Ups – 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps. Start with 2 sets of 10 reps, and add reps and/or sets where possible.
You can progress these sessions further by adding pauses or tempos or reducing rest periods. More advanced lifters may also benefit from completing each session twice per week.
Variations of Diamond Push-Ups
You can add a few different diamond push-up variations to your routine to challenge your muscles in new ways. All these variations still involve forming a diamond or triangle shape with your hands.
Here are three great variations to try:
- Wall diamond push-ups. In this diamond push-up variation, you perform a diamond push-up against a wall. This is an easier variation that reduces pressure on your shoulder joints and wrists and reduces elbow pain.
- Incline push-ups. This is another great diamond push-up variation for beginners. It involves performing the push-up against an elevated platform to reduce the load on your upper body.
- Decline push-ups. This harder diamond push-up variation increases load and force on your upper body, particularly your pectoralis (chest) muscles. Place your feet on an elevated platform, such as a step or bench, to perform decline diamond push-ups.
Frequently Asked Questions: Diamond Push-Ups
What Are Diamond Push-Ups Good For?
Diamond push-ups are great for increasing triceps activation and the difficulty of traditional push-ups. This makes them a good option for more experienced lifters with minimal equipment. They’re also good for people who want to strengthen or add size to their triceps.
Are Diamond Push-Ups Better Than Regular Push-Ups?
Whether or not diamond push-ups are better than regular push-ups will depend on your goals. While regular push-ups are better for targeting the chest, diamond push-ups are better for loading the triceps.
Why Are Diamond Push-Ups So Hard?
Diamond push-ups may feel harder because they increase the range of motion you work through due to the narrower grip. They also shift load away from the larger chest muscles and place more emphasis on the smaller tricep muscles.
Should Beginners Do Diamond Push-Ups?
Diamond push-ups are suitable for lifters of all levels. They’re a great exercise to increase strength in the chest, shoulder, tricep, and core muscles. If standard diamond push-ups are too difficult, beginners can try incline or wall diamond push-ups.
Are Diamond Pushups the Hardest?
In comparison with other push-up variations, diamond push-ups are one of the hardest. When you place your hands in a diamond shape, you rely less on your secondary muscles to perform the push-up, so your chest and triceps do most of the work.
Is a Diamond Push-Up Healthy?
The diamond push-up is a healthy exercise to include in your upper body or full-body workouts. You can do it anywhere with no equipment. It is a safe and effective way to build your chest and triceps muscles.
Diamond push-ups are a great option for beginners to advanced lifters.
For beginner lifters, it is a progression from the standard push-up and allows for more triceps loading.
For advanced lifters, it increases the difficulty of the movement enough that they will not need to add as much load as a standard push-up. This makes it a far more viable option within more advanced programs.
To maximize the effectiveness of diamond push-ups, aim to progress where possible by increasing reps or load or adding a tempo or pause. You should also be sure to use a full range of motion and not be afraid to push sets close to failure.
Other Upper Body Exercise Guides
- 12 Best Bodyweight Tricep Exercises (At Home & No Equipment)
- Negative Bench Press: What Is It, How-To, Benefits, Mistakes
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press: How To, Pros, Cons
- Isometric Bench Press: How-To, Benefits, & Should You Do It?
- Cambered Bar Bench Press: Benefits, How-To, Technique
- Z Press: How-To, Benefits, & Should You Do It?
- 6 Decline Bench Press Benefits (Plus, 1 Drawback)
About The Author
Jacob Wymer is a powerlifting coach and PhD Candidate in Biomechanics and Strength and Conditioning, researching the application of barbell velocity measurements to powerlifting. He is involved in powerlifting across the board, from athlete to meet director. Jacob runs his coaching services at EST Barbell. You can also connect with him on Instagram.