Stop Doing Diamond Pushups

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., Brett Williams

From Men's Health

Standard pushups are one of the simplest exercises you can do to build strength (although doing them right can be tougher than you might think). Naturally, lots of guys want to graduate to more difficult, targeted variations as soon as they can string together a set of 10 reps. One common go-to variation is the diamond pushup, which requires you to form the eponymous shape on the floor by bringing your hands together at the forefingers and thumbs.

You might think this maneuver looks cooler than your average pushup, and it's often programmed into workouts as a bodyweight option to smash your triceps muscles. But if you're still rocking diamonds, you (and your trainer) might be putting yourself in a risky position you can easily avoid.

"Yes, plenty of trainers and gym-bros recommend the diamond pushup as the best bodyweight move for major triceps growth," says Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. "Thing is, you don’t actually need to form a “diamond” with your hands in order to stimulate your triceps. In fact, when you really think about it, how could a hand-shape actually influence the growth of your tris?"

According to Samuel, your hands have little to do with muscle recruitment. "Your triceps’ main responsibility on any pushup, whether diamond or not, is to extend (or straighten) your arm at the elbow joint," he says. "And truth be told, the best position from which to do that isn’t going to be the diamond. It’s actually going to be ever-so-slightly wider than diamond position, with your hands just narrower than your shoulders." He's talking about the close-grip pushup, which you can pull off by simply moving your hand position from a standard pushup in a few inches so that your elbows are "glued" against your torso as you work.

You might have more than the effectiveness of the diamond hand shape to worry about, too. Bringing your hands in for a diamond could also put your shoulder health at risk.

"[Close-grip] will also save your shoulders, too. The diamond pushup invites you to turn your the pits of your elbows toward each other, a more comfortable position when your hands are so narrow, but doing that also removes tension from your lats and places your shoulders in internal rotation, a position that invites injury for your shoulder joint," says Samuel. "Widening your hands just slightly lets you keep tension in your lats and keeps your shoulders in external rotation, while also letting you blast your tris the way you want to."

Next time someone wants to get fancy with your bodyweight workout, tell them you want to keep it close, instead.

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