You can crank out literally dozens of standard push ups, but you can’t do diamond push ups.
There are few exercises as simple as the standard push up when it comes to building strength.
(I said “simple” not “easy” by the way).
And we all know that progression is the name of the game when it comes to any exercise.
So, it makes perfect sense that you’ll want to make push ups harder in order to keep progressing.
A popular go-to variation is the diamond push up.
But, if you’re struggling to perform diamond push ups, check out the following tips.
Why Can’t I Do Diamond Push Ups?
The best way to progress from standard push ups to diamond push ups is to gradually bring your hands closer together each week. This will ensure that your triceps receive greater stimulation week-after-week while doing push ups, as well as making them stronger.
1. Make Sure You’re Doing Standard Push Ups Correctly First
One of the biggest complaints is that you’re able to do 20-30 standard push ups, and yet you can barely do a single diamond push up.
This immediately signals a red flag to me.
Okay, I understand that diamond push ups require a lot more tricep involvement.
Plus, they are far more difficult than the standard push up.
But, in all honesty, there shouldn’t be such a disparity between the two.
This is an indication that you’re potentially not performing the standard push up correctly.
The main issue as I see it is that the elbows typically flare out to the side when performing push ups.
By doing this you are not really stimulating the triceps at all.
In fact, you’re probably not working the chest to great effect either, and potentially harming your shoulder health.
So, I’m afraid you’re going to have to go back to school and learn the standard push up all over again.
Try the following method to ensure that your elbows remain close to the body throughout push ups.
First, spread your fingers wide and then turn your hands out ever so slightly.
You should point your index fingers directly ahead, whereas all your other fingers are splayed out the side.
As long as you maintain this hand position you’ll find that your elbows are literally hugging your sides while performing push ups.
You should also ensure that you lower yourself far enough down and fully extend the arms at the top of the movement.
This full extension at the top will help to stimulate the triceps further.
I would hazard a guess that your push up numbers drop dramatically when performing them with perfect form.
The Perfect Push Up
2. Gradually Move Your Hands in Closer
Most of us look to graduate immediately from standard push ups to diamond push ups.
In a way this is a little like benching 100kg one week and then doubling the weight the following week.
Basically, you’re trying to progress too quickly, so it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to lift the weight (or perform diamond push ups).
The best advice I can give you to progress from standard to diamond push ups is to work your way up gradually.
I would suggest that you bring your hands slightly closer together each week when performing push ups.
So, you’ll typically start out with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Once you feel that you can perform a good number of push ups this way it’s time to start with progressions.
My recommendation would be to aim for diamond push ups after approximately 4 weeks.
During the proceeding weeks bring your hands an inch or two closer together each week.
In effect, your hand position is getting narrower each week.
You’re still performing push ups that work the chest, but you’re also focusing more on tricep strength.
3. Work on Wrist Strength and Mobility
Another issue when it comes to diamond push ups is the wrists.
This was definitely a problem for me.
I typically found that my wrists were ready to give up well before I could feel diamond push ups in either my chest or triceps.
My solution was to practice hand walks, as well as performing planks with my hands in varying positions.
For hand walks I would place my hands against a wall, fingers pointing up.
Then as the name suggests, I would walk my hands up and back down the wall.
I would then follow the same process with my fingers pointed out to the sides, and finally with my fingers pointed to the floor.
Another method would involve planks with my hands flat on the floor.
This uses the exact same method of fingers pointing ahead, to the side, and behind.
You can use the plank method by staying static or walking around as well.
Basically, just get used to applying some of your body weight to your wrists.
Finally, it makes good sense to perform a few wrist mobility drills prior to doing diamond push ups.
I prefer wall hand walks and simply rolling my wrists in either direction, but there’s plenty to choose from.
Wrist Mobility Exercises and Stretches
4. Work on Tricep Strength
I mentioned above that if you’re not doing standard push ups correctly you’re probably not stimulating the triceps much either.
To be honest, tricep strength is generally a limiting factor in the many push-based exercises we perform.
You know what I mean – while performing push ups, bench presses, overhead presses, your triceps typically give up well before the “target muscles”.
This is simply because the tricep is a much smaller muscle than the chest or the shoulders, and will therefore fatigue first.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore tricep-strengthening exercises.
Here’s Jeff Cavaliere with a 6-minute bodyweight tricep workout.
That being said, if you’re triceps need a lot of work you’re probably not going to make it through this workout.
Simply decrease the number of reps so you’re getting more rest during your one-minute phases.
5. Use Proper Diamond Push Up Form
As with any exercise, you need to ensure that your form is spot-on when performing diamond push ups.
- Keep your glutes and core tight as would during a plank.
- Ensure that the centre of your chest is directly above your hands at the bottom of the movement.
- Keep your elbows tucked in.
Something else you may want to consider is having your thumbs and fingers create a triangle shape rather than a diamond.
So, keep your thumbs horizontal, as opposed to pointing down.
I’ve found that this allows me to keep my elbows tight to the body and stops them flaring out to the side.
Here’s Scott Herman with a diamond push up tutorial.
6. Don’t Bother With Diamond Push Ups
Okay, this probably goes a little against the grain, but are diamond push ups actually worth it?
Yes, they look cool, and you will definitely be considered a top “bro” when you start cranking out loads of diamond push ups.
However, in reality I don’t actually think that the diamond push up is that great an exercise.
Firstly, they put a huge amount of stress on the wrists.
Next, due to the hand position your shoulders become internally rotated, which is just asking for a shoulder injury.
Furthermore, you remove tension from the lats, so this means even more pressure on the shoulders.
Look, one of the main reasons most of us want to perform diamond push ups is because of the greater tricep stimulation.
However, I would suggest that hand position (in terms of what angle they’re pointing at) has very little to do with working your triceps.
In fact, the main responsibility of the triceps during push ups is to ensure that you straighten your arm at the elbow joint.
And trust me, there are far better variations that diamond push ups to help you achieve this.
I honestly think that close push ups are a much better tricep builder, plus they work the chest much more too.
I’d also say that diamond push ups actually shorten your range of motion, so even though they are harder, you’re doing much less work.
So, for me, my hands will always be slightly apart whenever I perform push ups.
3 Essential Close Push Up Tips
So, if you can’t do diamond push ups, hopefully you’re a little closer to achieving them now.
From everything that I’ve mentioned, I think the best way to get to diamond push ups is gradual progression by bringing your hands closer and closer together each week.
That being said, I’m not a huge fan of diamond push ups, simply because of the additional pressure they put on the wrists and shoulders.
However, if you really want to do them, then following the above tips will get you there eventually.
Push ups happen to be one of just 8 exercises that Lane Goodwin utilizes in his fantastic workout program.
In fact, you can follow his 12-week program, while using just EIGHT exercises for muscle growth and fat loss.
Discover more by checking out my Ripped With Bodyweight Review.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.