The regular version is popular for good reasons but you can consider knee pushups too. Find out when they can be good.
Knee pushups are a variation of regular pushups where you simply lean on your knees instead of your feet.
In turn, you carry even less of your body weight in pushups and the movement becomes easier.
To work your chest, tricep, and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles in a somewhat optimal way, you want to be able to do certain minimum amounts of pushup sets and reps.
If you are not that strong (yet), regular pushups could be too hard to achieve these amounts.
In that case, knee pushups can be a good way to start growing and strengthening your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles.
At the same time, you also want to remember to switch to regular pushups when you are strong enough, aka be able to do 6 repetitions or more in a row, to see more results faster.
How to do a knee pushup
Knee pushups become a lot more comfortable to do with a soft surface like a yoga mat or blanket below your knees.
That being said, take the following steps to do a knee pushup:
- Sit on your knees.
- Put your hands on the ground and step forward with these until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your head. Keep your shoulders above your wrists and your arms slightly less than stretched for now.
- Slowly lower your upper body as far as comfortable by folding your arms. Keep your upper arms at angles of 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Push your upper body up in a controlled motion until your arms are slightly less than stretched again.
You want to make sure your upper arms are at angles of about 45 degrees or less to your sides.
This will help you avoid injuries during knee pushups.
Additionally, it is generally more comfortable to keep your spine more or less straight during knee pushups.
Muscles worked with knee pushups
Knee pushups are a compound chest exercise that mainly works your chest, tricep (back upper arm), and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles.
You can also say knee pushups work your abs and hip flexors to a tiny extent.
An important principle in resistance training exercises like knee pushups is that you want to challenge your muscles enough but not too much.
If you can already do regular pushups for more than 6 repetitions for 3 sets, knee pushups are likely too easy for your training goals.
On the other hand, many people will not be able to reach these amounts of regular pushups.
In that case, you can start with knee pushups and as you get stronger, consider the regular version again.
Benefits of knee pushups
On top of the regular pushup benefits to a lesser extent, knee pushups also offer a few other advantages. A few examples are:
- Stepping stone for regular pushups: People who are not strong enough for regular pushups yet can use the knee version to get stronger.
- Get used to technique more safely: With less weight resting on your joints, knee pushups are a way to learn pushup technique with a slightly lower injury risk.
- Grow and strengthen muscles: If they are challenging enough for you, knee pushups can help you grow and strengthen a few muscles.
- No equipment or location needed: While a soft pad can be helpful, you can theoretically do knee pushups without investing in exercise equipment or a gym subscription.
Knee pushups are not the perfect choice for everyone but for the right individuals and situations, they can be good.
Knee pushup alternatives
Even if regular pushups are currently too hard, there are other knee pushup alternatives you can consider.
Some of these include:
- Wall pushups
- Incline pushups
- Chest presses
- Tricep kickbacks
- Chest fly
- Tricep extensions
- Front raises
What knee pushup alternatives are the best for you depends on details like what exercise equipment you have and what you like doing.
Are knee pushups a good exercise?
Knee pushups can be a good exercise for people who currently find regular pushups too hard to do in reasonable amounts.
As your chest, triceps, and front deltoids get stronger over time, you can consider switching from knee pushups to the regular version.
If you can do about 6 pushups per set, it is likely time to make this switch.
It is also worth mentioning that knee pushups are not the only way to make this happen.
If you prefer one of the knee pushup alternatives, doing these can be a good idea too.
Are knee pushups effective?
For resistance training beginners, knee pushups can be effective to grow and strengthen their chest, triceps, and front deltoids.
Are knee pushups better than regular pushups?
If you are not strong enough yet to do regular pushups in sufficient amounts, knee pushups can be better.
On the other hand, if you are any stronger than that, regular pushups tend to be better.
Why are knee pushups so much easier?
Knee pushups are so much easier because less of your body weight rests on the muscles responsible for pushing you up.