Diamond Push Ups – Why They SUCK | What To Do Instead |ULTIMATE Gains
Diamond push-ups are known to be the best chest and triceps builders in the calisthenics community.
But, allow me to let you in on a little secret.
If you’re looking to build iron triceps and a rock hard chest, then diamond push-ups are a waste of your time and I do NOT recommend doing them.
In fact, I’m going to show you to THREE exercises that are far superior to the diamond push up for building maximum strength and size.
So let’s get to it!
Why Diamond Push Ups Suck
Apart from the fact that there are better exercises out there, here’s why diamond push ups SUCK for building muscle and strength.
Diamond push ups are a close grip variant of regular push ups; that involve placing the palms in a diamond shape while performing the exercise.
The diamond push up is considered an intermediate push up variant, and is supposed to build massive arms, a chiselled chest, a shredded serratus and washboard abs.
But does the diamond push up deliver on this promise?
Let’s find out.
Problems with the diamond push up:
1. Diamond Push Ups and wrist pain:
Not everyone can do diamond push ups, because diamond push ups can hurt the wrists.
Depending on your wrist mobility and finger lengths (thumb and index finger lengths), the diamond push up places your palms in an extremely awkward position to push from.
If pain is the reason you are unable to perform an exercise, you should:
- Get your form checked
- Modify the exercise [OR]
- Stop performing that exercise
In the case of diamond push ups, the best option is to simply modify the exercise to the close grip push up.
As you’ll see below, the close grip push up is far superior to the diamond push up in several ways!
2. Diamond Push Ups and shoulder pain:
Because of the awkward grip position; diamond push ups place the shoulders in a more internally rotated position than other push up variants, which can cause shoulder pain.
This coupled with the fact that there can be a tendency to flare the elbows out during the exercise, makes this movement sketchy for the shoulder joint.
Again, using a comparatively wider hand placement (like in the close grip push up) will place your shoulders in a much healthier position to push from.
Another change that can be made to your push up form is to try and keep your elbows tucked in to your sides, this will reduce the degree of internal rotation at the shoulder joint and keep your shoulder safe!
Making these small changes to your form will allow you to reap all the benefits of the close grip push up!
3. Diamond Push Ups have a reduced range of motion:
We know that an increased (effective) range of motion recruits more muscle fibers into the movement and builds more size and strength.
Unfortunately, diamond push ups force the shoulder and elbow joints to move through a shortened range of motion. Which hinders overall chest and triceps development in the long run.
When performing the diamond push up, your chest rests on the top of your palms at the bottom of the movement.
In other words; this is as far as your chest can travel through the movement.
This means that the pecs and triceps have moved through a shorter range of motion, therefore leaving significant size and strength gains on the table.
Switching to a more comfortable grip width (like that of the close grip push up) will allow for greater range of motion.
In fact, close or narrow grip push ups can be done on parallettes, rings, chairs, tables or even bricks in order to achieve an increased range of motion.
Using the close grip push up instead of diamond push ups will therefore improve your gains by increasing your range of motion.
4. Diamond Push Ups Don’t carry over well to Planche Push Ups:
One of the best muscle building push up variations in the bodyweight community is the pseudo planche push up.
The pseudo planche push up is an advanced push up variation that you want to practice if your goal is to build a massive chest, thick triceps and boulder shoulders.
But, the planche push ups is not easily achievable. You have to journey through several push up progressions before reaching the pseudo planche push up.
Unfortunately, the diamond push up is NOT on this list of progressions and for good reason.
The strength you build on the diamond push up does not carry over well to the pseudo planche push up because of the grip positioning.
The close grip push up carries over better to the pseudo planche push up. This is because of its similar hand placement (grip width).
If you’re serious about your bodyweight training, then try to achieve the pseudo planche push up via the close grip push up instead of the diamond push up variation.
This will be an essential movement in your bodyweight calisthenics repertoire.
5. Diamond Push ups DO NOT work the triceps effectively:
If you’re looking to build massive arms, then you want to target your triceps.
In fact, the triceps make up roughly 60% of your arm size.
Not developing the triceps properly will shortchange the growth potential of your arms.
The long head of the triceps is responsible for giving you that sweep behind the arm and makes your arms look massive when viewed from the side and when you flex your arms to show them off to your friends.
While the short head of the tricpes, make you look big from the front.
If you want to huge when looked from the front and the side, then finding an exercise that fully develops the long and short heads of the triceps is of paramount importance.
Diamond Push Ups have been touted as one of the best triceps building exercises for calisthenics athletes.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth, here’s why:
Calisthenics athletes lag when it comes to the development of the long head of the triceps.
This is because the long head of the triceps is hard to isolate with most bodyweight movements. This is especially true when it comes to diamond push ups.
The problem with the diamond push up is that it only works the lateral head of the triceps effectively, with minimal stimulation for the long head of the triceps.
This is similar to other pushing movements.
If you’re looking for excellent overall triceps growth, then the bodyweight skull crusher beats any other bodyweight movement when ti comes to effectively developing the triceps.
In fact, the bodyweight skull crusher can compete with other weighted triceps exercises and come out on top!
The bodyweight skull crusher not only develops the lateral head of the tricep effectively, but is one of the best builders of the long head of the triceps.
Read more in my article: Bodyweight Skull Crushers
THREE Exercises That Are BETTER Than Diamond Push Ups
I’ve never understood why calisthenics athletes recommend the diamond push up.
In my opinion, the diamond push up is only an average triceps builder, while also placing lesser emphasis on the chest and shoulders. In fact, due to the position of the hands, diamond push ups are hard on the shoulder and wrist joints.
These THREE exercises are far superior to diamond push up in terms of building size and strength.
In fact, you can use any one of these THREE exercises instead of the diamond push up and reap significantly more gains:
1. Close Grip Push Ups
The close grip push ups outdoes the diamond push up in several ways.
- It is easier on the shoulder and wrist joints.
- It has an increased range of motion, thus allowing for more optimal strength and size gains.
- It places equal emphasis on your chest, shoulders and triceps.
- They can be done on a pair of cinder blocks, chairs or gymnastics rings like the X rings for an increased range of motion and core stabilization (in the case of the rings).
- It carries over well to other forms of pushing exercises, including the pseudo planche push up.
In terms of overall muscle stimulation, lower risk of injury and carryover to other pushing movements, the close grip push up wins, hands down. Pun intended.
To perform a close grip push up, simply take a slightly wider grip than the diamond grip and try performing your push ups that way.
In fact, I highly recommend performing your push ups with a grip that is shoulder width apart.
This is not only comfortable on the wrists but the shoulders as well.
If you are looking to build big arms, a big chest and some boulder shoulders all in one movement, then the close grip push up is way better than the diamond push up.
In fact, I’m going to link the complete article about the close grip push up and its different variants, that will carry you through moths of gains, before having to move on to more advanced push up variation, like the pseudo planche push up.
2. Pseudo Planche Push Ups
The pseudo planche push up is the natural progression from the close grip push up.
If you’re interested, I talk about how to progress from one push up variant to the other in my article on Push Up Progressions.
Pseudo planche push ups are way harder than close grip push ups and will build superior strength and size.
While they can also be hard on the wrists, a comfortable position can be found with the fingers turned outside.
This exercise is better than the diamond push up in that:
- It places more emphasis on the chest, shoulders and triceps.
- It also carries over extremely well to the coveted planche push up; a highly advanced push up variant.
- Unlike diamond push ups, Pseudo planche push ups can also be done on rings,
3. Bodyweight Skull Crushers
You might be saying; this is all fine and dandy, but I do diamond push ups for my triceps, not for my chest or my shoulders.
Well, in that case, let me introduce you to my secret weapon when it comes to building massive triceps – the bodyweight skull crusher.
This exercise will annihilate your triceps while rewarding you with a fully developed muscle heads (the long and short heads of the triceps).
The bodyweight skull crusher is far superior to the awkward and uncomfortable diamond push up in the following ways.
- It is easier on the wrists and shoulders.
- It builds the long head of the triceps – something that is extremely hard to do with other bodyweight exercises. And it builds the lateral head of the triceps as well!
If you mastered pull ups and dips and threw in some bodyweight skull crushers, you’d have a massive upper body.
Check out my article here on how to incorporate these massive triceps builders into your workout routine.
How To Do Diamond Push Ups Without Wrist, Shoulder Or Lower Back Pain
Diamond push ups are just like regular push ups when it comes to form, except for hand placement.
The close hand placement of the diamond push up makes it harder to perform when compared to the regular push up.
This is because the awkward hand position places the arms in a mechanically disadvantageous position to push from.
If you are suffering from wrist, shoulder or lower back pain when performing diamond push-ups, follow the steps below:
Step #1: Hand Placement
Start by placing your palms directly under the shoulder and elbow joints.
This means that you won’t be holding the diamond shape during the movement.
I fully understand that this is not called the diamond push up anymore but it is still a close grip push-up variation.
But fret not, because the close grip push up possesses all the advantages of the diamond push up and much more.
This is especially true when trying to keep your joints happy and healthy in the long run.
Set yourself up in the “high plank” (start of the push up) position making sure that your shoulders are stacked above your elbows and your elbows are close to your ribs.
Step#2: Full Body Tightness
Squeeze your glutes and abs, this will ensure that your body remains “stiff” throughout the movement.
Keeping the body “stiff” or “tight” throughout the movement will ensure that you don’t drop or raise your hips too high.
Dropping the hips too low is the main cause of back pain in the push up.
Squeezing the muscles of the glutes and abs will ensure that the lower back is not excessively arched when performing any type of push up.
Step #3: Elbow Position
Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower your body till your chest touches the floor – for full range of motion.
Make sure to “stay tight” as described in step #3.
Tucking the elbows into your sides ensures that your shoulders are not excessively internally rotated and thus should take care of shoulder pain during your push ups.
Step #4: Pushing Up
Push yourself back up to the starting position while keeping your elbows tucked in and remembering to “stay tight” throughout the movement.
This last step requires you to hold all previous steps in place:
- Hans Position: Palms stay directly under the shoulders.
- Full body tightness -abs and glutes stay “tight”.
- Elbow Position – Elbows stay tucked into your sides.
Keeping thers 4 steps in mind will allow you to perform pain free push ups.
Diamonds aren’t your best friend when it comes to push ups. If you’re looking to build muscle using calisthenics, there are much better movements out there that will allow you to build high levels of muscle and strength.