Pike push-ups aren’t nearly as popular as their cousin: the classic push up.
But regardless of that, the push up variation is incredibly beneficial and offers some unique benefits to trainees.
Read on to learn what the pike push up is, what muscles it works, what makes it great, how to perform it, and much more.
Let’s dive in.
What is the Pike Push Up?
The pike push-up is a variation of the classic exercise that puts greater emphasis on the shoulders. The objective is to assume a modified downward dog pose with your buttocks elevated toward the ceiling.
Such a position makes the push-up movement pattern more similar to an overhead press, which leads to greater deltoid activation (shoulder muscles). Given the position, pike push-ups are more challenging than regular ones, so be careful when doing them.
Aside from the deltoids, pike push-ups work the upper back, upper chest, triceps, serratus anterior, and midsection.
What Makes Them Great?
Pike push ups are one of the top bodyweight exercises for several good reasons.
First, they are one of the most accessible bodyweight movements for training the shoulders through a long enough range of motion. Handstand push ups are an alternative but are much more challenging and come with a limited range of motion.
Second, pike push ups build core strength and promote whole-body stability.
Third, you can make the movement more challenging by elevating your feet. You can first elevate them on a short stool, then a chair or gym bench, and finally on the kitchen counter for the ultimate challenge.
How to Perform Pike Push-Ups (Step-By-Step)
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend over, plant your hands flat on the floor, and walk them out forward several inches until your body resembles an inverted letter V. Your back should be straight with your feet flat on the floor.
- Take a deep breath and bend your elbows to lower yourself, bringing the top of your head an inch or two from the floor. Look at your feet the entire time to ensure your neck remains neutral.
- Pause briefly and push yourself up to the starting position as you exhale.
Safety Recommendations For Pike Push Ups
As with any exercise, optimal and safe performance depends on good preparation. (1)
Begin with some light cardio to increase your heart rate and raise your body temperature. From there, proceed to dynamic stretching: arm and leg swings, shoulder rotations, torso twists, etc. Doing so further warms your body up and loosens you up for the workout.
Once done, do some light warm-up sets before jumping into the workout. For instance, you can do a couple of light sets of regular or knee push-ups to increase blood flow to the target muscles. (2)
Aside from preparing well, be careful with pike push-ups because slipping up can cause you to hit your head on the floor, which isn’t pleasant. So make sure the floor is not slippery or hard to grip well.
Do reps slowly and with good control, taking care to train through a full range of motion. Fewer high-quality sets are infinitely better than more careless ones.
Click for more info on decline push-ups, incline push-ups, tricep push-ups, and plyometric push-ups.
Click to see more bodyweight exercises.
- Cronkleton, E. (2019, July 12). Warmup exercises: 6 ways to get warmed up before a workout. Healthline.
Joyner, M. J., & Casey, D. P. (2015, April). Regulation of increased blood flow (hyperemia) to muscles during exercise: A hierarchy of competing physiological needs. Physiological reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4551211/