In the "full press-up", the back and legs are straight and off the floor. Several variations are seen, besides the common press-up. These include bringing the thumbs and index fingers of both hands together (a "diamond pressup") as well as having the elbows point towards the knees. These two variations are intended to put greater emphasis on the triceps rather than the shoulder and chest muscles. When both hands are unbalanced or on uneven surfaces, this exercise also works the body core. Raising the feet or hands onto elevated surfaces during the exercise emphasize the upper and lower pectorals, respectively. In any variation of a push up, a person will be lifting about 60 percent of their body weight.
The simple set of exercises of dand-baithak (press-up and squats) practiced in the villages of India has a beneficial effect on the spine. It takes off the strain from the spine and makes it fit to fight the other strains on the spine caused by the adoption of an erect posture.
The American College of Sports Medicine (2000) recommends using a press-up test to examine endurance on the upper-body musculature. For a male subject, assuming a dand position, with back straight, head up, and hands placed shoulder width apart, lowering his body with his chin touching the mat; the abdomen should not touch the mat.
There are some less difficult versions, which reduce the effort by supporting some of the body weight in some way. One can move on to the standard press-up after progress is made.
"Wall press-ups" are performed by standing close to a wall and pushing away from the wall with the arms; to increase the difficulty, move your feet further from the wall.
"Modified" press-ups are performed by supporting the lower body on the knees instead of the toes, which reduces the difficulty.
The aim of the "clap press-up" is to explosively push the body into the air for enough time to clap the hands together (once, or even more), then bring them back into position to cushion the fall.
In another type of plyometric press-up, the "drop push", two platforms are placed on either side of the trainee. The exercise begins with the hands on either platform supporting the body, then the subject drops to the ground and explosively rebounds with a press-up, extending the torso and arms completely off the ground and returning the hands to the platforms.
Another is simply an explosive press-up where a person attempts to push quickly and with enough force to raise their hands several centimeters off the ground, with the body completely suspended on the feet for a moment, a variation of the drop push.
With press-ups, many possibilities for customization and increased intensity are possible. Some examples are: One hand can be set on a higher platform than the other or be farther away from the other to give more weight to the opposite arm/side of the body and also exercise many diverse muscles. One can perform press-ups by using only the tips of the fingers and thumb. For increased difficulty, press-ups can be performed on one arm or using weights.
In a competitive or disciplinary context especially, it is not rare to use "nastier" variations, e.g. in mud, snow or dirt, divested, and/or to make it physically harder, as by putting one's foot or a weight on the performer's back (possibly with sanctions if equilibrium is lost, such as spilling a glass) or to do the exercise resting on the knuckles or not use all fingers (not counting the thumb).