Push ups are an exercise used widely from beginner to advanced lifters.
However, the diamond push up 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 loading through the triceps 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
- The muscles worked in a diamond push up
- The benefits and drawbacks of diamond push ups
- Tips on how to perform diamond push ups
- Common mistakes I see 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.
Placing your hands this way 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 push up puts more load through the triceps and less through the chest.
How To Do A Diamond Push Up
There are four steps to performing a diamond push up:
- Start by kneeling on the floor and place your hands on the floor out in front of you below your chest. Place your hands close together so that your index fingers and thumbs are touching. This should make the shape of a diamond or triangle.
- 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 is nearly touching 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 are training 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, but 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 find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of doing push ups with handles.
Muscles Worked In The Diamond Push Up
The muscles used in the diamond push up 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)
- Upper back
The prime movers in the diamond push up are the triceps and pecs. However, unlike a traditional push up, more load will be through the triceps due to the narrower grip.
The muscles of the upper back will also function to stabilize the shoulder, while the core muscles and glutes will maintain the straight-line position of your torso and legs throughout the movement.
If you are feeling 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) and Why Do Your Lats Get Sore After Push Ups? (4 Reasons).
Four Benefits Of The Diamond Push Up
Below are four benefits of doing diamond push ups.
1. Diamond Push Ups Require No Equipment
As diamond push ups are a bodyweight exercise performed on the ground, they require no equipment.
This means they are 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.
This also means they are quick to perform, as they require no setting up of 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 just 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, which can make 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 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 and in a comparable range of motion as well.
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.
Read our articles Do Push Ups Help Bench Press? (Yes, Here’s How) and 17 Exercises To Improve Bench Press Strength (That Actually Work) to find out more ways to increase your bench press strength.
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.
Concerns about stability can also be avoided by adding diamond push ups to the end of your sessions since you’ll be more fatigued and won’t be able 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 not letting your hands touch but still keeping 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 the diamond push up effectively.
1. Use A Pause Or Tempo
Pauses and tempos (slowing down the downwards portion of the rep) are a great way to add intensity to the diamond push up without having to add extra loading. You can try lowering yourself down to a count of 3, pausing for a second at the bottom, or pausing halfway up or down.
This will allow you to progress your diamond push ups week to week while just using your body weight and add more variety to them as well.
This also means you do not have to rely on a partner adding plates to your back or piling up household items into a bag if you are training 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 have to lower yourself to the ground. You don’t have to worry about getting pinned under a weight. If you do have weights on your back, you can slide them off and then 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 target week to week to beat and track progress on.
3. Keep Your Torso And Legs Aligned
Keeping your torso and legs aligned ensures a consistent execution of each set and rep. Just like any other exercise, proper technique and consistency will 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.
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.
How To Program Diamond Push Ups
One of the key benefits of diamond push ups is that they do not require any external equipment, so I try to keep it this way when programming them. 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 each benefit the 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.
These sessions can be progressed further by adding pauses, tempos, or reducing rest periods. More advanced lifters may also benefit from completing each session twice per week.
Frequently Asked Questions: Diamond Push Ups
What Are Diamond Push Ups Good For?
Diamond push ups are great for targeting the triceps and increasing the difficulty of push ups compared to a regular push up. 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. Diamond push ups are better for targeting the triceps, whereas regular push ups are better for targeting the chest.
Why Are Diamond Push Ups so Hard?
Diamond push ups may feel harder as they can increase the range of motion you are working through due to the narrower grip. They also shifting load away from the larger chest muscles and place more emphasis on the smaller tricep muscles.
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)
The diamond push up is 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 compared to a standard push up. This makes it a far more viable option within more advanced programs.
To maximize the effectiveness of diamond push ups, you should aim to progress where possible by increasing reps or load or by adding a tempo or pause. You should also be sure to use a full range of motion, and don’t be afraid to push sets close to failure.
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.