Diamond Push-Ups to Work Your Triceps & Lateral Head

Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups are a simply amazing triceps exercise. We love this powerhouse bodyweight exercise for your upper arms.

And if you’re looking for a simple, equipment-free exercise to grow your triceps at home, outside, the gym, or on the road, you’ve found it. This movement works exceptionally well to allow for an impressive overload to grow and strengthen your triceps and upper arms.

It’s one of the most effective bodyweight exercises. Period.

Let’s explore the activity, what makes it so beneficial, how to perform it, and how it might look inside a home routine.

Table of Contents

What Are Diamond Push-Ups?

Diamond push-ups are a variation where you position your hands closer than usual, ideally with your thumbs and index fingers in contact and forming a diamond shape (hence the name). 

Doing so puts your chest muscles at a mechanical disadvantage and instead forces your triceps to take over and produce more force to complete each rep. But why is that important?

While most people consider the biceps more important for upper arm size, the triceps actually make up two-thirds of the upper arm muscle volume. By focusing on them with diamond push-ups and other tricep exercises, you build pressing strength and develop impressive upper arms.

The great thing about the exercise is that you can do it almost anywhere without special equipment.

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles Worked 💪

  • Triceps – All 3 Heads, with an Emphasis on the Lateral (outside) head
  • Chest

Secondary Muscles Worked 💪

  • Shoulders
Diamond Push Ups

Warming Up And Stretching Before Diamond Push-Ups

Warming up before doing diamond push-ups is crucial for getting the most out of the exercise and reducing the injury risk. The movement places some stress on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders, so it’s important to warm up these areas.

This is even more important for people over 40. Injuries become more common as we age, and we must be increasingly vigilant during exercise.

To prepare for diamond push-ups, do 2-3 minutes of light cardio (treadmill walking, jumping jacks, etc.), 2-3 minutes of dynamic stretching (arm swings, wrist twists, elbow rotations, etc.), and stretch your triceps in an overhead position for a few seconds.

How to Perform Diamond Push-Ups

Remember to:

  • Keep your body straight
  • Engage your core
  • Maintain a neutral lower back (avoid arching)
  • Do reps slowly and with great body control

Here’s how to do diamond push-ups:

  1. Get down on all fours.
  2. Place your hands close with your thumbs and index fingers in contact, forming a diamond shape.
  3. Extend your legs and balance your lower body on your toes.
  4. Engage your abs and avoid arching your lower back.
  5. Retract your shoulder blades and inhale.
  6. Lower yourself slowly by bending your elbows.
  7. Go down as low as you comfortably can and press through your hands, fully extending your arms—exhale near the top.

The Lateral Head

The diamond push-up is one of the very best tricep exercises that you can do to work the lateral head of the 3-headed tricep muscle. This is the outside head that is generally the most visible of the three heads.

Muscles Worked Doing Diamond Push Ups

This is key, as many exercises that engage the triceps do not place emphasis on the lateral head. This one does.

But it’s a very challenging exercise, so if you do diamond push-ups in conjunction with other tricep exercises, make sure it is first in the pecking order.

Because of its difficulty, if it’s not first then you likely won’t have the energy to do more than one or two reps.

Diamond Push-Up Variations to Try

1. Knee Diamond Push-Up

Support your lower body on your knees instead of your toes if the regular version feels too difficult. Doing so takes away some of the resistance, making each repetition easier.

Diamond push-ups are very difficult, so these variations are a must-have for many people. Oftentimes, they are the stepping stone to doing the primary exercise. 

Diamond Push Ups from Knee

2. Incline Diamond Push-Up

This variation is also more beginner-friendly. Instead of doing diamond push-ups on the floor, place your hands on an elevated object (e.g., a plyo box, sturdy chair, or kitchen counter). 

Having your body at an angle also removes some resistance, making it easier to build up the necessary tricep strength. The higher the elevation (the more vertical your body), the easier the exercise.

Incline Diamond Push-Up

Quick Home Workout Routine

Here is a diamond-push-up-only home routine:

  1. Diamond push-ups (5 reps)
  2. Knee diamond push-ups (5 reps)
  3. Incline diamond push-ups (5 reps)
  4. Rest for 90-120 seconds

Do the exercises back to back. Each is progressively easier than the one before it, allowing you to maintain proper form and train through a full range of motion, even as your triceps get fatigued. (1)

Here is another simple home routine, this one working the chest and shoulders to a greater degree:

  1. Diamond push-ups – 3 sets
  2. Pike push-ups – 3 sets
  3. Classic push-ups – 3 sets

Do each set close to failure, but not to the point where you can’t do at least one or two extra reps. The first movement emphasizes the triceps, the second works the shoulders, and the last focuses on the chest.

Here are some more triceps workouts, as well as bodyweight exercises:

If  you can’t do diamond push-ups, try push-ups from the knees and progress from there. Click to read more bodyweight exercises, and also our bodyweight video library.

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David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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References

  1. Hussain, J., Sundaraj, K., Subramaniam, I. D., & Lam, C. K. (2020, January 30). Muscle Fatigue in the three heads of triceps brachii during intensity and speed variations of triceps push-down exercise. Frontiers.
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.00112/full

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