Pike Push-ups

The next progression after decline push-ups towards the handstand push-up, is the pike push-up.

In this exercise, we move the arms so that they are in a vertical pressing position, rather than the horizontal pressing position used in push-ups.

We simply put some weight through the legs to make it easier than a handstand push-up.

Alternative Name

Jackknife Push-ups

Muscles Worked

Primary

Deltoid anterior (front)
Triceps brachii

Secondary (Synergists)

Pectoralis major, clavicular (upper)
Deltoid lateral (middle)
Trapezius, middle and lower
Serratus anterior, inferior (lower)

Stabilisers (Fixators)

Trapezius, upper
Levator scapulae
Quadriceps
Iliopsoas
Tensor fasciae latae
Sartorius
Rectus abdominis
Obliques

Instructions

Start Position

Pike Push-up Start

  • Place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, with your bum in the air and feet on the ground, practitioners of Yoga may recognise this as the downward-facing dog position.
  • Your arms should be overhead, slightly in-front of your face.
  • If flexibility is a problem then feel free to bend your knees or place your feet on an elevated object.

Execution

Pike Push-up End

  • Lower yourself under control, until the top of your head touches the ground.
  • Hold for a second, then return to the start position.

Pike Push-up Form

Elbow Position

Pike Pushup Elbows

Don’t flare your elbows out to the sides

Elbows should stay in line with your hands throughout the movement, don’t flare them out.

This will focus on your triceps, as well as keeping your shoulder joint stable.

Don’t Lock Your Elbows

Whilst your arms should be straight, never lock out the elbow.

This puts the pressure through the ligaments rather than the muscles.

Full Range of Motion

Full range of motion is all the way down until your head touches the floor, and all the way up.

Keep Your Upper Body Straight

You should be able to draw a straight line between your hip, shoulder and ear throughout the movement.

Breathing

Breathe in during the eccentric phase (lowering yourself), breathe out during the concentric phase (pushing yourself back up).

Try to breathe through your stomach rather than chest to get more strength from your abdominal muscles.

Cadence

Ideally you want to be aiming for 2-1-2, that is two seconds down, one second hold, two seconds back up.

Progression / Regression

Incline / Decline

Pike push-up start position with feet elevated

The higher your hips are, the more weight will go through your shoulders.

If you lack flexibility, then simply put your feet on an elevated object.

Conversely, the lower your hips are, the less weight will go through your shoulders.

Hand Position

Moving your hands closer together will increase the difficulty a lot, by putting more emphasis on the triceps.

Make sure you’re comfortable with close hand decline push-ups before attempting this one.

Range of Motion

Performing this exercise with your hands on two elevated objects, with a place for your head to pass through will make the exercise considerably more difficult.

This puts a lot more pressure on the shoulders, so is only advised for advanced athletes with strong stabilisation muscles.

Decreasing the range of motion will make it easier, don’t move onto handstand push-ups until you can get your head to the floor and back.

Elevate One leg

As an extra progression between the pike push-up and handstand push-up, try elevating one leg.

This will increase the load through the upper body, as well as forcing you stabilisers to fire more.