T Pushups: How To, Muscles Worked, Risks,…

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There are many ways to do the classic pushup exercise. Find out how to do the T pushup variation and what effects it offers.

T pushups involve an extra upper body rotation at the top of the pushup movement where you point one arm up in the air.

After making this T-shape with your body, you do another pushup and repeat the movement on the other side.

By adding this modification you add oblique and shoulder muscle engagement, balance training, mobility training, and coordination training.

In turn, T pushups are less effective for growing and strengthening your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles.

How to do a T pushup

Take the following steps to do a T pushup:

  1. Sit on your hands and knees with your hands about shoulder-width apart and your shoulders above your hands.
  2. Step back with your feet until your body is in a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. If you struggle with balance you can put your feet wider apart.
  3. Lower your body in a controlled motion by folding your arms. Keep your upper arms at angles of 45 degrees or less to your sides.
  4. Slowly raise your body again until your arms are slightly less than stretched and you are back in the position of step 2.
  5. Move one arm sideways and upward until both of your arms are more or less in one line. Your body will be in a T-shape. Whether you want to keep your arms stretched or bend them during the upward motion depends on the muscles you want to target.
  6. Lower the arm in the air back into the position of step 4.
  7. Repeat the same motion with your other arm in the air.
How To Do A T Pushup

The main technique attention points for T pushups are keeping your upper arms at the right angles and not rotating your body too far.

If needed, you can rotate your hips too to avoid twisting your spine as much.

How to do a T pushup with dumbbells

Another popular way to do T pushups is with dumbbells. When it comes to technique, these are basically the same as the walkthrough above.

However, it is worth quickly mentioning that hex or square dumbbells tend to be more convenient for T pushups.

This makes it less challenging to keep the dumbbells in position and keep your body balanced.

Additionally, if you are not sure what weight would be good for you, you can start with light dumbbells and build up from there.

Muscles worked with T pushups

One of the main differences between T pushups and regular pushups is the extra muscle engagement at the top of the movement.

Some of the typical primary muscles worked with normal and T pushups include:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Front deltoids (main shoulder muscle)

The twist of the second part of T pushups is good for training these muscles a bit more:

  • Obliques
  • Deltoids
  • Variety of scapular muscles
  • Potentially triceps

Some of the secondary muscles worked with T pushups and pushups in general include:

  • Abs
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes

If you keep your arm straight in the upward movement you will focus more on the deltoids and oblique muscles.

You can also fold your arm in the upward movement and stretch it at the top. This will be an arm extension that works your triceps.

Keep in mind that you won’t grow and strengthen all of these muscles. For most people, the T pushup will still mainly be a chest, tricep, and deltoid exercise.

How to get better at T pushups

You may find your current T pushup performance lacking. In that case, there are a few ways you can get better at this exercise.

If your chest, tricep, and deltoid muscles fatigue too early for your liking, you can do pushup progressions or the regular version with the right resistance, repetitions, and sets.

With weak scapular muscles something like a weighted external rotation can be useful.

You could also have to strengthen your oblique muscles with something like a standing Russian twist with resistance bands or a cable machine.

Benefits of T pushups

You may wonder why someone would consider this pushup variation. Some of the potential benefits of T pushups are:

  • Working more muscles: Working more different muscles is not always better but you may want to engage more areas of your body with T pushups.
  • Extra balance and coordination training: Balance and coordination are skills that can be trained. Since T pushups are challenging in these areas they could help you with this.
  • Mobility training: For some people, T pushups will mean pushing themselves in terms of the range of motion their bodies can go through. By doing this safely, you can improve mobility.
  • Still offering a decent muscle workout: The extra benefits above can be nice but T pushups will also simply still work your chest, triceps, and front deltoids a nice amount. In turn, this offers the many benefits of resistance training.

Whether these benefits are worth the slightly worse chest, tricep, and front deltoid workout can vary from person to person.

T pushup alternatives

T pushups are not always the best exercise choice for your training goals. Find out what alternatives you can consider to work similar muscles.

  • Renegade row pushups
  • Regular pushups
  • Bench press
  • External rotations
  • Dumbbell shoulder presses
  • Russian twists
  • Pallof presses

Which of these T pushup alternatives is the right choice for you depends on many details. Some of these include your training goals, what your body is capable of, and what fitness equipment you have available.


T pushups can help you work a few extra muscles, challenge your balance and coordination, and potentially improve your mobility.

At the same time, you need to know that this comes with a less challenging workout for the main muscles you work.

Whether this trade-off is worth it depends on your training goals, personal preferences, and the state of your body.

Most people will want to keep the training for these different muscles and fitness components separate.

That means switching up regular pushups or pushups alternatives with the T pushup substitutes above and other exercises.


What do T pushups do?

T pushups add some oblique and shoulder muscle engagement, mobility training, balance training, and coordination to the classic pushup exercise. These things do come with slightly less effectiveness in terms of training the main muscles.

How do I increase my T pushups?

If your chest, triceps, and front deltoids are the weak factors, you can increase your T pushups by doing regular pushups in the right set and rep ranges. With weak obliques or shoulders, you would have to do other movements.

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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.