Pike Pushups: Build Stronger Shoulders Fast!
A pike pushup, also known as a shoulder pushup, is one of my favorite upper body exercises. By hitting the deltoids, pectorals muscles, along with biceps and triceps, the pike pushup cranks up the intensity of a traditional pushup redirecting the focus.
As opposed to a traditional hand release push up, this variety turns the movement on its head… literally! The twist is that instead of maintaining a straight body position from your shoulders down through your heels as with most pushups, here you keep your hands and feet firmly planted on the ground, but raise your hips and glutes up in the air. That allows your body to form a V-shape giving this movements its name – the pike pushup.
How do you do a pike pushup
- Bending forward with your feet hip width apart, place both hands on the ground to create a downward dog yoga position. This is your starting position for the pike pushup.
- Be sure that you have created a V shape with your body keeping your hips lifted toward the sky.
- Align your neck and head with your hips creating a neutral spine position with your gaze directed back toward you heels and feet.
- Both your arms and legs should stay straight throughout the full upper body exercise.
- Engage your core by bracing your abdominal muscles and allow your glutes to contract helping you hold the pike V position.
- To begin the shoulder pushup, in a slow, controlled manner, bring the top of your head down toward the floor by bending your elbows. Allow your elbows to open a bit out to the sides as you engage your deltoid shoulder muscle.
- Lower down until your head gently grazes the floor or you feel a stretch through the tops of your shoulders.
- Using your shoulders and maintaining a tight core, press through the palm of your hands to bring your body back to the starting position.
Things to avoid with a pike pushup
With an upper body workout movement like the shoulder pushup, you want to watch your form carefully. Avoid allowing your back to arch or sag or overly round placing undue pressure on your spine. Control the movement as you bring your head down toward the ground making sure not to hit your head hard or harm your neck. There should never be significant pressure on your head/neck and you do not have to actually touch the ground with your head at the bottom of the movement.
What is a shoulder push up called?
The type of push up the engages the shoulder or deltoid muscles the most is called a pike pushup. This is because the main load is placed through the shoulders with hips high created by the V shape of the body.
What muscles do pike push ups work?
Pike pushups focus the bulk of the work squarely through the shoulders, specifically hitting the anterior, lateral, and posterior heads of the deltoids. But that is not where the movement stops. Secondarily, it also involves most of the upper body from the chest and back through the core and into the arms.
Specifically with the piked V body shape, emphasis is placed through the front anterior delt when you are lowering your head down in the first half of the exercise. When you push back to the starting position by straightening your arms, the lateral and posterior delt muscles take of and engage to stabilize the shoulder joint.
Engaging more shoulder stability and power through the delts, pike pushups are great for increasing strength and range of motion while promoting good posture.
What is the difference between pike push-up and regular push-up?
When you are comparing the pike or deltoid push up to a traditional pushup the first thing you will notice is the obvious differences in the position of the body throughout the exercise.
With a traditional or regular pushup, a straight body position is maintained from head to heel or head to knees for a kneeling pushup. The means that the hips are aligned with the spine and effort is put forth to avoid overly sagging in the middle or rounding upward. Ideally with a regular pushup, the elbows will be tucked in to the sides of the body which concentrates the movement more specifically to the pectorals muscles and distributes tension through the core. Regular pushups focus on chest, triceps, and shoulders in more of a balanced way while recruiting the abs and lower body more fully than with pike pushups.
However, when we look at the pike pushup, the hips and glutes are inverted above the head creating that upside down V shape. Hands and feet will be closer together and elbows and softly pull out to the sides placing the emphasis on the shoulder muscles, primarily the anterior and lateral heads of the deltoid. This upper body movement requires a ton of core strength as you fight to stabilize.
Because of the unique differences between hand release regular pushups and the more shoulder focused pike pushups, I recommend including both of these upper body exercises to round out your workouts!
How to Modify – Pike Pushups for Beginners
If you find that the full inverted pushup or pike pushup is too difficult, try starting with your hands on an aerobic bench or step that is a few inches off the ground. This will take some of the weight out of your upper body and allow your legs to assist to a greater degree. You can also bend your knees to modify the pike pushup for beginners.
Ready to make this movement harder?
If you have mastered the pike pushup and want to move on to an exercise that will challenge you more, elevated pike push ups or inverted push ups with your feet elevated will do just that! I like to use either an exercise ball or a bench for Elevated Pike Push Ups
One of my favorite things about these type of movements is that they only require your own bodyweight and you can do them anywhere! Be sure to adjust the exercise making it easier or harder depending on your level of fitness. Ok! You can do this! Go build beautiful, strong, sexy shoulder by adding deltoid pushups into your life!
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