Diamond Push-Ups: The Definitive Guide

The diamond push-up is a variation of the standard push-up that transfers the focus from the chest to the triceps. While the triceps are the primary worker, this exercise activates the chest, shoulders, and core.

Hand placement is the critical difference between the diamond push-up and a standard push-up. By placing the hands close together under the torso, this exercise relies on the three-headed muscle at the back of the upper arm to drive the body up from the lowered push-up position. 

The diamond push-up does not allow for as full a range of motion as the standard push-up. Because it targets a relatively small muscle group, it is also easy to let more substantial muscle groups, such as the deltoids or pectorals, take over, robbing the triceps of the benefit. That’s why it is essential to learn to do this exercise properly.

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    What are Diamond Push-Ups?

    The diamond push-up is also known as the close-grip push-up and the triangle push-up. It is a more challenging exercise than the standard position. It has you placing your hands together under your body, switching the main emphasis from the more prominent pectorals to the smaller triceps.

    Here’s how to do diamond push-ups…

    1. Get down in the standard push-up position, but with your hands together under your body so that your thumbs and first fingers are touching. The gap between your hands will form a diamond shape.
    2. Maintaining a tight core and a straight line from head to toe, lower to the floor until your arms are fully extended.
    3. Push back to the start position.

    The close hand positioning makes this a challenging exercise. The closer your hands come when you are doing push-ups, the more transfer there is from the large pectorals to the much smaller triceps. The diamond push-up is the most extreme close hand position, where the fingers are touching.

    If you find the diamond push-up too challenging, you can transition to the exercise by gradually bringing your hands closer together. Start with them about six inches closer than shoulder width. After a few workouts, continue to get your hands closer together until, eventually, the thumbs are touching.

    Diamond Push-Ups: Muscles Worked

    The diamond push-up is a compound calisthenic exercise that works several upper body muscles together. The primary muscle group worked is the triceps, a three-headed muscle at the back of the upper arm.

    The secondary muscles worked are the pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), and serratus anterior. Stabiliser muscles that balance and support the body are also activated, including the core, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, and calves.

    The primary muscle group worked, the triceps, has the function of straightening the arm by elbow extension. This is the action taken to push up from the bottom diamond push-up position. The triceps is a single muscle with three ‘heads’. 

    Each triceps head has a different point of origin but the same insertion point. As a result, any exercise, such as the diamond push-up that requires elbow extension, will equally activate all three triceps heads.

    Diamond Push-Ups Benefits

    The diamond push-up is a bodyweight exercise that can be done anywhere. It is one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises and has the added benefit that it can be worked up gradually through adjusting hand placement.

    Here are four specific benefits of doing the diamond push-up…

    Triceps Stimulation

    The closer you place your hands together when doing push-ups, you will achieve more triceps activation. The diamond push-up is the most extreme close hand position, so it’s not surprising that EMG studies show a significantly greater degree of triceps involvement than in the regular push-up. 

    The triceps make up two-thirds of the upper arm, so doing exercises, such as the diamond push-up that allow you to increase their size will go a long way toward building impressive upper arms. 

    Pectoral Stimulation

    Contrary to common belief, the close grip push-up does not decrease pectoral stimulation compared to the regular push-up. The fact that increased triceps activation does not mean that pec activation is robbed. 

    EMG studies reveal that pectoral stimulation is more significant on the diamond push-up than on the standard regular version of the exercise. So, doing the diamond push-up will provide more tremendous muscle building potential to both the triceps and the chest. 

    Anterior Deltoid Stimulation

    The deltoid is a three headed muscle, similar to the triceps. Unlike the triceps, it has separate insertion and origin points for each head. As a result, it is possible to work the heads individually. 

    When you do any version of a push-up, you will be activating the anterior head of the deltoid. The front part of the shoulder muscle adds bulk and width above the pectorals. 

    Close hand placement will work the anterior delts more than a regular shoulder-width position. So, the diamond push-up does a better job of working the anterior delts than the regular push-up. 

    The diamond push is an excellent progression bodyweight exercise to build anterior deltoid strength. You can then move on to more challenging direct delt bodyweight moves such as the push-up planche and handstand. 

    Greater Core Stability

    As you perform the diamond push-up, your body is supported in a plank type position. When you bring your hands together, the body is more challenged in balance and stability. That requires more work from the core muscles to maintain a secure body position. 

    The core involves all the muscles between your pectorals and your hips. It includes the serratus anterior, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae of the lower back. Each of these muscles is activated when you do the diamond push-up. 

    Diamond Push-Ups vs Regular

    The diamond push is a lot harder to do than the regular push-up. As we’ve already discovered, it places the primary emphasis on a relatively small muscle group (the triceps). 

    Many people who start doing push-ups quickly progress to where they can do high numbers of reps without too much challenge. The diamond push-up is an excellent option when you need a more challenging version to keep making your workout progressive. 

    The diamond push could be considered to be a push-up plus exercise. It provides you with all the benefits of a regular push-up with the added benefit of enhanced triceps activation. It also allows you to progressively graduate your training intensity by bringing your hands to close together. 

    Do Diamond Push-Ups Work Chest?

    Yes, diamond push-ups do work the chest. The main function of the chest is to move the arms away from the body. That is the movement that you do in the bench press exercise. The push-up is the same movement as the bench press in reverse.

    The diamond push-up brings your hands toward the centre of the chest under your torso, which mimics the secondary function of the pecs. So this version of the push-up mimics the two main actions of the pecs. Even though it is primarily known as a triceps exercise, the diamond push-up still does an excellent job of working the chest muscles. 

    diamond push-ups muscles worked

    Incline & Decline Diamond Push-Ups

    When you change your body position on any version of the push-up, you change the difficulty level of the exercise. That is because you are working with gravity and your body weight as the resistance.

    When you change to an incline position, where your hands are higher than your feet, you will make the exercise easier. That is because you are effectively reducing the bodyweight load that has to work against the force of gravity. 

    Therefore, decline diamond push-ups are a helpful progression exercise for those who find the standard diamond push-up too challenging. Absolute beginners can begin in a standing position, with their hands against the wall in the diamond position. 

    Slowly lower body position until you are eventually doing the standard floor diamond push-up. It is important to maintain a tight core and a straight line from head to toe in the various body positions.

    In contrast with the incline version, where your feet are higher than your hands, doing decline diamond push-ups will make the exercise harder. That’s because the higher your feet are, the more of your body weight will be working against the force of gravity.

    Once you can perform several sets of 10-15 reps of standard push-ups, you can make the exercise harder by placing your feet on a bench. At first, you may have to move your hands slightly wider apart to achieve a full range of motion. Then, as you get stronger, bring them in to reform the diamond shape with your fingers. 

    Common Diamond Push Up Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    You will only enjoy the benefits of diamond push-ups if you perform every rep of every set with the proper technique. Here are four common mistakes to be aware of …

    Hands Beyond the Shoulders

    The ideal hand placement for both the regular and diamond version of the push-up is with the hands directly under the anterior or front deltoids. If they are beyond that, there will be excessive stress on the shoulder joint, and the emphasis of the exercise will transfer from the triceps to the front delt.

    The forward hand position will also prevent your core stabiliser muscles from properly engaging during the exercise. It will also cause the hips to lift, compromising proper body alignment and making it impossible to activate the glutes and hamstrings. 

    Make sure that your hands are directly below the front delts in the starting top plank position to correct this mistake. 

    Elbow Flare

    When doing any triceps exercise, you should keep your elbows as close to your torso as possible. This keeps the emphasis on the triceps and not the front deltoids. 

    To correct this mistake, as you are pushing up out of the bottom push-up position, mentally cue yourself to keep your elbows in.

    Lifting or Lowering the Hips

    Lifting or lowering the hips is a common mistake with all versions of the push-up. However, you will place excessive strain on your lumbar spine if you maintain a straight line throughout your body. In addition, you won’t be able to engage the core adequately and upper leg muscles to provide stability and support you need to perform the exercise properly.

    Cue yourself in the start position to maintain a straight line from head to foot to correct this mistake. Maintain this position by engaging the core, glutes, and quads. 

    Not Contracting Lower Body & Core

    When your body is fully tight and engaged, you will be better able to focus on working for the target muscle group. Conversely, when the body is loose and slack, you will experience energy leaks that will rob you of the full benefit of the exercise. 

    When it comes to the diamond push-up, you should contact the following muscle as you are doing the exercise …

    • Glutes
    • Abdominals
    • Quadriceps

    Wrap Up

    The diamond push-up is a challenging bodyweight exercise that primarily emphasises the triceps. At the same time, it effectively works the pectorals, front delts, and core. 

    When doing the diamond push-up, keep these cues in mind …

    • Body in a straight line
    • Hands under shoulders
    • Contract core and legs
    • Elbows in

    You can work up to diamond push-ups by starting with a standing version against a wall and gradually progressing to a floor version. Add the diamond push-up to your bodyweight workout program to add a new level of challenge as you build a more considerable, stronger upper body.