Military Pushups: How To, Muscles Worked,…

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While pushups look straightforward, you can change them in a variety of ways. Find out how to do military pushups.

First of all, it is worth mentioning that some people consider military pushups to be the same as the regular version.

However, many people and this article consider military pushups to be a variation where you keep your upper arms closer to your body.

This makes it so military pushups focus more on your triceps.

Since these muscles are typically weaker than your chest muscles, military pushups tend to be harder.

If you like the different muscle focus and you can still do enough repetitions, military pushups can be a good exercise.

Keep in mind that the typical pushup set and rep guidelines still apply.

How to do a military pushup

Take the following steps to do a military pushup:

  1. Sit on your hands and knees. Put your hands about shoulder-width apart and your shoulders above your wrists.
  2. Step back with your feet until you are in a straight line from your heels to your head.
  3. Slowly lower your body as far as comfortable by folding your arms. Keep your upper arms close to your sides.
  4. Raise your body in a controlled motion until your arms are slightly less than stretched again.
How to do a military pushup

When it comes to military pushup form, there are two main things to keep in mind.

First of all, you want to implement the typical upper arm angle. In simpler words, keep your upper arms close to your sides.

Secondly, you want to keep your hips high enough to avoid discomfort in your lower back.

It is worth mentioning that military pushups tend to be relatively challenging.

Many people, not just beginners, will need to start with pushup progression steps like knee pushups.

Military pushups muscles worked

Military pushups are a compound tricep exercise that works muscles like your triceps (back upper arms), chest, and front deltoids (shoulders).

You can also say your abs, hip flexors, and quadriceps have to work a decent amount.

Keep in mind that just doing a few military pushups here and there is likely not enough to hit your fitness goals.

More specifically, you want to do enough military pushups at the right challenge levels for your goals.

This could mean starting with the knee or incline variation (or other tricep exercises) for many people.

More advanced lifters may need to do military pushups in decline or with a good weighted vest to see their desired results.

Military pushups vs regular pushups

If you give a few military and regular pushups a try it becomes clear that the seemingly small form difference does change things.

More specifically, military pushups focus more on your triceps and front deltoids and less on your chest muscles than regular pushups.

Since the triceps and front deltoids are typically weaker, military pushups tend to be harder than regular pushups.

Military pushup benefits

The different ratio of muscle engagement still applies but the positive consequences of military pushups are similar to the regular benefits of pushups.

Some examples are:

  1. Stronger muscles: Doing military pushups in a smart workout program can help you grow and strengthen your triceps and front deltoids.
  2. Don’t require equipment or a location: Many people will find bodyweight military pushups hard enough. This means you don’t need to invest in fitness equipment or go to the gym for your tricep workouts.
  3. Can make your arms more muscular: Bigger triceps and front deltoids will make your arms look more muscular and/or toned. Many people will find this a visual benefit.

You don’t have to stick to military pushups to get these benefits but they can be a good choice anyway.

Military pushup alternatives

It is also possible that you don’t love military pushups for certain reasons.

In that case, you can consider doing some of these military pushup alternatives instead:

  • Other pushup variations
  • Close grip bench presses
  • Tricep extensions
  • Skull crushers
  • Tricep kickbacks

To choose between these military pushup alternatives you want to think about what muscles you want to work and what fitness equipment you can get your hands on.

Are military pushups a good exercise?

Military pushups can be a good exercise to work your triceps and front deltoids if you can do enough repetitions.

One thing to note is that military pushups are somewhat challenging.

In turn, not everyone will be able to hit the recommended rep ranges for optimal results.

On the other hand, more experienced lifters could also need pushup equipment options like a weighted vest to do military pushups effectively.

Lastly, you want to keep in mind that personal preference matters too. If you like certain military pushup alternatives more, they could be better choices.


Are military pushups better?

Military pushups are not necessarily better or worse than regular pushups. What muscles you want to focus on will influence your choice.

Are military pushups harder?

Yes, military pushups are generally harder because you have to lift a lot more weight with your triceps and front deltoids. These muscles are typically weaker than your chest.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.