Maximum Potential Calisthenics
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Decline Push-ups

The first progression after full push-ups towards the handstand push-up, is the decline push-up. By elevating your feet, more weight will go through the upper body, which will condition your body ready for the next progression.

Muscles Worked


Pectoralis major, clavicular (upper)
Triceps Brachii

Secondary (Synergists)

Pectoralis major, sternal (lower)
Deltoid anterior (front)

Stabilizers (Fixators)

Rectus abdmonis
Pectoralis minor
Serratus anterior



Start Position

Decline Push-up Start Position

  • Place your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart, with your feet elevated on an object around knee height.
  • The rest of your body should be in a straight line, from head to toe with your feet together.
  • Your arms should be be straight, but not locked out at the elbows.


Decline Push-up Execution

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

Decline Push-up Form

Elbow Position

Elbows should be by your side 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 and all the way up. Putting your tricep through the full range of motion will gain the maximum benefit and help strengthen the joints.

Keep Your Body Straight

Your body from head to toe should be in a straight line throughout the movement. Engaging your abdominal muscles will make this easier.


Breath in during the eccentric phase (lowering yourself), breath out during the concentric phase (pushing yourself back up). Try to breath through your stomach rather than chest to get more strength from your abdominal muscles.


At a minimum your should be aiming for one second down, one second hold, then one second back up (1-1-1). Ideally you want to be aiming for 2-1-2.

Progression / Regression

Incline / Decline

Theoretically, you could keep increasing the incline until you’re performing a handstand push-up. However, your hand position needs to change along the way, hence the reason these tutorials have a few more progressions. Progress them to waist height, before moving onto pike push-ups.

If they are too difficult, simply lowering your feet will make them easier.

Hand Position

Moving your hands closer together put more emphasis through the triceps, a nice way of varying your training from time to time.
Decline Close Hand Push-up

  1. Decline Push-ups
  2. Pike Push-ups
  3. Wall Handstand
  4. Handstand Push-ups

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