Some people like the concept of pushups but need something different. Find out how to do incline pushups and what the benefits are.
Incline pushups are a variation of regular bodyweight pushups where you put your hands on an elevated surface.
This makes more of your body weight rests on your feet. In turn, incline pushups are easier than the regular version. The incline angle also works the muscle fibers in your lower chest muscles a bit more.
You can use incline pushups as a first step to regular pushups, decline pushups, and weighted pushups. These can help you build more muscle in a shorter amount of time when you are strong enough.
Additionally, incline pushups can be useful as a lower chest exercise at home. For this purpose, many people need to do a weighted variation or choose exercise alternatives.
How to do an incline pushup
Before you can do this exercise you will need a sturdy elevated object you can put your hands on.
A few examples of this include a stepper, stairs, plyo box, stable weight bench, stable chair, etc. Once you have that, take the following steps to do an incline pushup:
- Put your hands about shoulder-width apart on the elevated object. Keep your arms slightly less stretched and your shoulder above your wrists.
- Step back with your feet until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Lower your body as far as comfortable in a controlled motion by folding your arms. Keep your upper arms at angles of 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Slowly push yourself back up until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
It is typically to keep your movements slow. Both to work your muscles a lot and to make sure you implement a good technique.
The higher your platform the easier the incline pushup becomes.
It is possible that incline pushups are still too challenging to do in good set and rep ranges. In that case, you can start with pushup progressions like knee incline pushups and wall pushups.
Incline pushups muscles worked
The main muscles worked with incline pushups are your chest and triceps.
More specifically, by changing the pushing angle in relation to your body, you will work the muscle fibers in your lower chest muscles more.
It is also possible that you still work your front deltoids (shoulders) at some angles. The steeper you go, the less you will work these muscles.
Besides that muscles like your glutes, quadriceps, erector spinae, and back muscles may have to work a tiny amount too.
How to make incline pushups harder
To be able to grow and strengthen muscles you have to put them under enough pressure. It is possible that bodyweight incline pushups do not offer this.
In that case, you can choose lower and lower objects. This makes it so more of your body weight rests on your arms and in turn, challenges the muscles more.
If you still like the different ratio of muscle engagement you can consider doing weighted incline pushups.
These are basically the same movement but you wear a weighted vest or use resistance bands.
Lastly, you can make incline pushups harder by using something like pushup handles. These allow your muscles to go through a slightly larger range of motion.
Incline pushups benefits
You can look at the benefits of incline pushups from multiple directions.
The list below will focus on the unique aspects of the incline variation. You can also check out the benefits of regular pushups which will also apply to the incline version.
- Different muscle focus: The incline pushup works your lower chest more and front deltoids less. Some people will find this different ratio of working their muscles a benefit.
- Stepping stone for regular pushups: Not everyone can do regular pushups. Incline pushups can help you grow and strengthen your muscles at an easier level until you are strong enough for the regular version.
- Get used to pushup technique more safely: Suboptimal pushup technique can increase injury risk, especially when more of your body weight rests on your arms. Incline pushups allow you to learn this technique with lower resistance.
- Softer on your body: Incline pushups tend to be softer on your joints and tendons. As you get stronger, regular pushups can become a good option too.
Whether you want to do incline pushups, the regular version, or other exercises will depend on how much these benefits align with your current strength level and goals.
Incline pushup alternatives
Incline pushups can be great for the right people and situations. At the same time, it is possible that one of the incline pushup alternatives is a better choice for you. A few examples of these are:
- Regular pushups
- Decline bench presses
- Dumbbell pullovers
- Decline chest fly
- Lower chest dip
- Isolation exercises for your chest, triceps, and shoulders
What muscles you want to work in what ways plays a big role in which of these incline pushup alternatives you prefer.
Are incline pushups a good exercise?
Incline pushups can be a good exercise for resistance training beginners to grow and strengthen their chest and tricep muscles to be able to do the regular version and learn good technique.
Additionally, some more intermediate lifters may also like the lower chest focus.
These intermediates do want to keep in mind that they still need to make incline pushups challenging enough with pushup equipment to be able to see growth and strength progress.
It is also worth noting that there are other isolation and compound chest exercises you can modify in a way that makes them focus on the lower chest.
You may like some of these more than incline pushups for a variety of reasons.
Can incline pushups build muscle?
If you are not able to do about 50 incline pushups in a row without fatiguing, you can likely build muscle with this exercise.
Why are incline pushups easier?
Incline pushups are easier because a smaller percentage of your body weight rests on your arms. This makes it so your muscles have to push less resistance up.
Are incline pushups harder?
No, incline pushups are easier because less of your body weight rests on your arms.