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When it comes to bodyweight exercises, push ups are a great way of training different muscle groups and increasing your upper body strength.
They also engage your core and help improve your posture.
Aside from regular pushups, there are several variations, each of which will focus on isolating and targeting various muscle groups.
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Some examples of these include the spiderman push up, side to side push up, Hindu push up and the pike push up.
In this article we look in more detail at the pike push up muscles worked and explain their benefits. We’ll also offer some instruction on how to perform them with proper technique.
What Are Pike Pushups?
The pike push-up is a variation of a regular push-up that places more emphasis on the upper back, shoulders and upper chest muscles.
Instead of the body remaining in alignment, as with a standard triceps push up, the pike push up involves raising the hips up so that they are higher than your torso.
Whilst it’s a great bodyweight exercise for building strong shoulders, it’s one of the more advanced exercises that can place more stress on the shoulder joint.
For this reason, if you have a pre-existing shoulder injury it would be wise to give this one a miss.
Once you become accustomed to this type of push-up, a progression would be moving over to handstand pushups.
Pike Push Up Muscles Worked
The primary muscles activated when performing a pike push up are the pectoral muscles, deltoids, triceps, abdominals and the serratus anterior.
Your legs act as stabilisers throughout, which activates the glutes and hamstrings.
When performed correctly and with full range of motion, the exercise will also work your forearm muscles. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t add muscle mass, but it helps build strength in the area. You’ll also feel wrist strengthening after a few weeks.
Pike Push Up Form
When compared to regular push-ups, the pike push up is more difficult to execute and proper form is essential to maximise benefits and limit the potential for injury.
However, even though it’s challenging, it’s still a highly effective exercise that you should look to incorporate into your bodyweight training.
The most common mistake with this exercise is not bringing the feet close enough to the hands. What this does is put more emphasis on the pectoralis major and limits shoulder activation.
Usually, this is down to poor mobility at the hip joint. If you find it difficult to attain the correct position, be sure to work on improving flexibility to your hips by incorporating stretching into your workout.
A second mistake is allowing the elbows to flare out as your lower the upper body to the ground. This is typically due to lack of strength to the shoulders whereby your triceps take over.
This should be avoided as it will put unnecessary strain on the shoulder joint which may cause injury and pain.
Make sure to keep your elbows in line with the wrists throughout.
How To Do A Pike Push Up:
- Start by positioning your body as though you’re about to perform the plank.
- Your feet should be resting on your toes with your palms flat on the floor and hands shoulder width apart.
- From here, walk your feet towards your hands. Aim to get your feet as close as possible, whilst elevating your hips towards the ceiling.
- Keeping your weight on your toes, bend at the elbows and lower your head towards the floor.
- At the bottom of the movement, your head should be in front of your hands.
- Now, push through your palms and straighten out your arms.
- At the top of the movement, shrug your shoulders up to complete the repetition.
Benefits of Pike Push Ups
Pike pushups are a great exercise for building strength, especially to the shoulder muscles. However, that’s not the only benefit. Here are some others:
Build Core Stability
Pike push-ups engage your core and help develop core strength. This in turn results in better posture and helps to limit common lower back pain symptoms.
When performed correctly, the pike push is a good way of activating the triceps which are responsible for bending and straightening the elbow joint.
Improve Muscular Endurance
Pike push-ups require a lot of energy and endurance. Doing this exercise regularly helps improve your muscular strength and endurance over time.
Increase Muscle Mass
Regularly performing pike push-ups will increase size to the chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps whilst improving upper body strength.
Pike Pushups Alternatives
Below are some suggested variations on the pike push up
Elevated Pike Pushups
In this variation of the pike pushup, you need to place your feet on an elevated surface (such as a step-up box) and place your hands on the floor.
It increases the range of motion and makes the exercise more difficult. The higher the platform, the better the range of motion.
How To Do An Elevated Pike Push Up:
- Stand in front of your chosen platform and squat down placing your palms flat on the ground.
- Take your feet back and elevate them on the platform.
- Walk your hands back towards your feet until your torso is almost vertical.
- Now, lower your head towards the ground and stop once your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
- Press your hands into the floor and straighten your arms to return to the starting position
Side To Side Push Up
The side to side push up is a more difficult version of the traditional push-up. This is because you’re required to alternate sides resulting in your body weight being supported one side at a time.
You’ll activate more of the chest in this exercise with the core engaging helping to provide stability.
How To Do The Side-To-Side Push Up:
- Start in a high plank position with your hands placed beyond shoulder width apart pointing your fingers out slightly. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your body straight, bend your right elbow so that the right side of your body lowers down towards the ground.
- Your left arm should remain straight throughout.
- Once your chest is close to the ground, press back up to the start position.
- Repeat steps 2 to 4 but on the other side
Single Leg Pike Pushup
If you really want to challenge yourself, then this variation of the pike pushup is for you. It requires strength and balance to do this exercise with one leg off the ground.
How To Do The Single Leg Pike Push Up:
- Start by positioning yourself in the standard pike position.
- Raise one foot off of the ground until your leg is in line with your upper body.
- Slowly and with control, bend at the elbows, lowering your head towards the ground.
- Once your head reaches the floor it should be slightly in front of your hands.
- From here, push through your palms until your arms are straight.
If you want to focus more on the triceps instead of the chest, then the diamond push up is a great alternative. This exercise is so called due to the diamond shape you form with your hands as you undertake the movement.
How To Do A Diamond Push Up:
- Begin in a high plank position with head and neck in a neutral position.
- Bring both hands so they are directly under your chest and form a diamond or triangle shape by putting your fore fingers and thumbs together.
- Engage the core and bend at the elbows allowing your chest to lower towards the ground.
- Your elbows should flare to the rear of your body during this exercise.
- Hold briefly before pushing through your palms and straightening the arms.
How to Keep Proper Form During a Pike Pushup?
There’s a lot that can go wrong during a pike pushup, especially in terms of lower back injuries. Good form and shoulder strength can help you perfect this exercise.
One common mistake most people make is flaring out their elbows and forearms to the sides. That movement can cause shoulder and elbow joint strains.
When you do a pike pushup, keep your elbows in line with your wrists much as possible. Plus, avoid dropping your hips. Ideally, your back should be kept straight.
In the same way, your head and neck should remain in line with your spine throughout the exercise. It will help keep your posture from slipping out of alignment.
Summing up, the muscles worked during pike push ups include the shoulders, chest, triceps and core. The main benefit of doing pike pushups is that it improves your upper body strength.
It also engages your core and targets the chest muscles.
Since the pike pushup is more technically challenging when compared to standard push-ups, you must ensure good form is adhered to to prevent injury.
Once you learn how to perform regular pike pushups, you can do consider other variations such as handstand push-ups and the single leg pike push up.