How to Do a Pike Push-Up: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a pike push-up to help with upper body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

a-man-doing-pike-push-hold

How to Do a Pike Push-Up: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a pike push-up to help with upper body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

a-man-doing-pike-push-hold

How to Do a Pike Push-Up: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a pike push-up to help with upper body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

a-man-doing-pike-push-hold

How to Do a Pike Push-Up: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a pike push-up to help with upper body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

a-man-doing-pike-push-hold
Table of Contents

Do you dread doing push-ups because they can be so hard sometimes? Push-ups are a foundational exercise that can help build strength and improve function. Physical therapists love them because you can do them almost anywhere and there are many alternate versions available. There are many ways to modify push-ups, such as doing them on your knees or doing a pike push-up. 

The pike push-up is an alternative to the standard push-up that can offer multiple benefits for muscle and joint aches. By targeting the deltoids, triceps, and core muscles, this exercise promotes increased blood flow to these areas, which can help alleviate muscle soreness and facilitate quicker recovery. Additionally, regular engagement of these muscles can lead to improved flexibility, muscle tone, and balance, reducing the strain on surrounding joints. 

Here, learn more about the pike push-up and how to do it — plus how to modify it to suit your needs. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is a Pike Push-Up?

A pike push-up is a bodyweight exercise that targets the shoulders, triceps, and upper back muscles. It’s similar to a standard push-up but targets the shoulders a bit more. 

What Muscles Do Pike Push-Ups Work? 

Pike push-ups are a bodyweight exercise that primarily target the muscles in the shoulders, specifically the deltoids. The anterior deltoids are the front parts of your shoulders. Pike push-ups put significant emphasis on this muscle group, making it one of the primary targets. The medial deltoids are the side parts of your shoulders. They're also heavily engaged, though slightly less so than the anterior deltoids.

Pike push-ups also engage several other muscle groups to a lesser extent for stabilization and movement, such as:

  • Triceps, located at the back of the upper arm. The triceps helps extend the elbow during the pushing motion.

  • Upper pectorals, or the upper chest.

  • Serratus anterior, which sits on the side of the ribcage and plays a key role in pushing the shoulder blades forward and stabilizing the shoulder girdle.

  • Rectus abdominis, or “abs.” These are engaged to maintain the piked position, especially if you keep your hips high.

  • Erector spinae, which are muscles that run along the spine and help you maintain a straight back during the movement.

  • Trapezius, which is a large back muscle that extends across your shoulders, and then goes down to the middle of your back. The lower trapezius, in particular, helps stabilize the shoulder blades during pike push-ups. 

Benefits of Pike Push-Ups

Pike push-ups, like many other bodyweight exercises, offer a range of health benefits, including: 

  • Increased strength, especially in the shoulders.

  • Improved core stability, which can help with things like balance and coordination

  • Improved posture.

  • Better functional strength, which makes daily activities easier.

  • Increased metabolic rate, since muscle is metabolically active tissue.

  • Improved bone density because it is a weight-bearing exercise.

  • Better joint health, as well as mobility. 

These benefits can make it easier to do many daily activities, such as lifting objects overhead, pushing items, carrying loads, finding a comfortable posture, doing things that involve reaching (e.g., painting and washing windows), and driving a car. 

Pike Push-Up: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Pike Push-Up

Pike Push-Up

Pike Push-Up

Pike Push-Up

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To do a pike push-up: 

  • Start on your hands and knees and move into the downward dog position by raising your hips up, extending your arms and legs, and moving your head between your arms. 

  • Bend your arms to slowly lower your head toward the floor between your hands. 

  • Then straighten your arms to return to your starting position. 

As you do each rep, you might feel your shoulder, arm, and neck muscles working. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to find your movement sweet spot.

Pike Push-Up Modifications

Pike Push-Up Modifications

Pike Push-Up Modifications

Pike Push-Up Modifications

To make a pike push-up easier:  

  • Limit how much you bend your arms during the movement, so your head doesn’t move quite as close to the floor. 

  • Limit how high you raise your hips above your head.

To make a pike push-up harder: 

  • After getting into a downward dog position, raise one leg up toward the ceiling. Then bend your arms and move your head toward the floor. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Calatayud, J., Borreani, S., Colado, J. C., Martín, F. F., Rogers, M. E., Behm, D. G., & Andersen, L. L. (2014). Muscle Activation during Push-Ups with Different Suspension Training Systems. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 13(3), 502–510. 

  2. Yang, J., Christophi, C. A., Farioli, A., Baur, D. M., Moffatt, S., Zollinger, T. W., & Kales, S. N. (2019). Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA Network Open, 2(2), e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341

  3. Azeem, K. (2015, February). The Push–Up. ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275023773_The_Push_-up

Table of Contents
What Is a Pike Push-Up?What Muscles Do Pike Push-Ups Work? Benefits of Pike Push-UpsPike Push-Up: Exercises and Modifications To do a pike push-up: To make a pike push-up easier:  To make a pike push-up harder: How Hinge Health Can Help You References