Many people can also grow and strengthen muscles outside of the gym. Find out how to do pike pushups for different skill levels and why this can be good.
Pike pushups are a variation of regular pushups where you keep your hips higher. This changes the pushing angle and in turn, what muscles you focus on.
More specifically, pike pushups will mainly work your deltoids (shoulders), triceps, and upper trapezius muscles.
If pike pushups are challenging enough but not too challenging, they can be effective for growing and strengthening these muscles.
One potential downside to keep in mind is that even bodyweight pike pushups can be too challenging for people who are new to resistance training.
If this applies to you, you likely want to start with one of the pike pushup progressions.
How to do a pike pushup
Take the following steps to do a pike pushup:
- Sit on your hands and knees with your arms slightly less than stretched.
- Move your hips up and step back with your feet to a position where you can complete the next steps comfortably and effectively.
- Slowly lower your body by folding your arms. Stop right before your head hits the ground. Keep your upper arms pointing somewhat forward around an angle of 45 degrees to the horizontal line of your shoulders.
- Push your back up in a controlled motion until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
The main thing to pay attention to during pike pushups is pointing your upper arms forward enough. This puts your shoulders in a position with lower injury risk.
Resistance training beginners can keep their bodies somewhat more horizontal to make the pike pushups easy enough.
Muscles worked with pike pushups
One of the main differences with regular pushups is that pike pushups work your muscles in different ratios.
More specifically, some of the primary muscles worked with pike pushups include:
- Anterior (front part) deltoids
Some of the secondary muscles worked with pike pushups include:
- Lateral (middle part) deltoids
- Upper chest
Keep in mind that you still need to work these muscles with enough pressure and repetitions to reach your training goals.
How many pike pushups you should do depends on things like these training goals.
However, doing something like 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even up to 50) pike pushups with a resistance that is challenging is good for growing your deltoids and triceps.
To achieve these ranges, you may need to start with easier pike pushup progressions or turn to harder pike pushup variations.
Pike pushup variations
The first way to make pike pushups harder is doing an elevated variation where you put your feet on an elevated object.
This puts more of your body weight on the main muscles of the exercise which can result in more gains.
Next, you can elevate your hands with something like pushup handles.
This allows you to do pike pushups in a larger range of motion which is typically helpful for growing and strengthening muscles.
Lastly, you can do weighted pike pushups which means doing the exercise with resistance.
Your main equipment option for this is a good weighted vest.
Benefits of pike pushups
On top of the benefits of regular pushups, the pike variation also has a few more unique aspects. A few examples are:
There are two main categories of benefits of pike pushups. The first category is the benefits of pike pushups over regular pushups. Some of these include:
- More deltoid training: Pike pushups put more pressure on your deltoids and make them go through a bigger range of motion. For certain training goals, this can be a benefit.
- Slightly more time-efficient: Pike pushups tend to be more challenging than the regular version. This can make your workouts a bit more time-efficient.
- More balance training: Pike pushups are just a bit more challenging in terms of balance. This could make you somewhat better at this skill over time.
How much you value these benefits, especially the different muscle engagement, will influence whether pike pushups are a good choice for you.
Like with any type of exercise there are risks when doing pike pushups.
The main thing to keep in mind when doing pike pushups is the position of your upper arms. If you flare them outward too much you increase the risk of shoulder injuries.
Next, you don’t want to fall face-first on the ground. If you are more of a resistance training beginner you may want to ask someone to stand by when first trying out pike pushups.
Lastly, if you are not comfortable standing with your head downward, you get dizzy easily, or you have low blood pressure, pike pushups may not be recommended.
Standing with your head down for an extended period of time can be dangerous even if you are a healthy individual.
Pike pushup alternatives
It is worth mentioning that pike pushups are not completely unique either. You can also consider implementing some of these pike pushup alternatives instead:
- Regular pushups
- Shoulder presses
- Front raises
- Tricep kickbacks
- Incline bench presses
What pike pushup alternatives you want to do depends on things like what muscles you want to work, what equipment options you have, and what you like doing.
Are pike pushups a good exercise?
Pike pushups can be a good exercise for working your front deltoids, triceps, and trapezius muscles without a lot of equipment.
More advanced lifters do want to keep in mind they may need to add weights anyway (or do one of the other challenging variations) to see optimal results from pike pushups.
Something else to note is that pike pushups are not completely unique either.
If you prefer some of the pike pushup alternatives with similar effects, these can be great choices too. Enjoying your workouts more makes it easier to stay consistent.