The incline push up is an elevated variation of the traditional push up, where you elevate your upper body with an exercise box so that you work your chest muscles and engage your core muscles while at it.
While the standard push up works your chest, shoulders and arms, the incline push up takes the pressure off your shoulders and arms to give your chest a solid workout.
What you need: An exercise box
Here is how you do it:
- Stand in front of the exercise box, and then bend down or squat, placing both your hands on either side of the box with the fingers facing forward. Make sure your hands are about shoulder-width apart.
- Once you have positioned your hands correctly, step back into a plank position, using one leg at a time. Your body should be in a straight line, your head aligned with the spine.
- Tighten your core.
- Bend your arms to slowly lower your chest toward the exercise box.
- Then, straighten your arms to lift yourself off the box and back into a straight line.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps each. You can choose to increase the reps per set as you develop more strength and mobility.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE INCLINE PUSH UP WORK?
This movement primarily targets your pectoralis major and minor, the main muscles of your chest.
In addition to your chest muscles, the incline push up engages your triceps and shoulders, as well as your core, hips, legs and back which act as stabilizers during the exercise.
INCLINE PUSH UP BENEFITS
CAN BE MODIFIED
There are several ways through which you can alter the incline push up to make it less or more challenging, depending on your preference.
You can make it easier by doing the push up on your knees. This can be particularly ideal if you find it difficult to keep your body in a straight line.
It will still give your chest a good workout as long as you keep your core tight and spine long.
Similarly, you can increase the challenge by moving your hands and elbows inward to narrow your support base. The narrow support base makes your triceps work a bit harder.
If you find yourself arching your back when you do a push up, that’s probably because you have a weak core that does not enable you to maintain a neutral spine.
The incline push up can rectify this by strengthening your core, which stabilizes and strengthens your spine.
CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE
You don’t have to do this exercise in a gym; you can do it anywhere, provided you have an exercise box, bench or at least a sturdy object you can modify to help elevate your upper body.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE INCLINE PUSH UP
DECLINE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS
This is a great multi-joint exercise that gives you a bigger and stronger lower chest.
It is commonly used as an alternative to incline push ups and the barbell press.
Here’s how you do it:
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lay down on a decline bench. Keep your feet rested under the bench pads for support. You can enlist the help of a spotter to help you lift the weights safely.
- Keep the dumbbells in line with your lower chest and make sure you don’t overextend your lower back.
- Now, start moving the weights down with your elbow at about 60 degrees from your shoulder.
- Pause at the bottom position when the weights are at your sides, making sure not to take them too low. Ideally, they should be slightly above your chest.
- Push the dumbbells to bring them back to the starting position.
- Repeat the steps as many times as you desire.
STABILITY BALL PUSH UP
This advanced push up requires a lot more stability and balance than the traditional variation.
It uses a stability ball to work your lower chest muscles, core and triceps.
How to do it:
- Place both hands on a stability ball and step your feet back, keeping them straight.
- With your hips and core tight, bring your body down slowly until your chest is an inch away from the ball.
- Push your body back to the starting position and repeat as many times as you desire.
Note that this exercise is quite advanced and as such, not suitable for beginners and intermediates.
If you are at any of these two fitness levels, consider starting with the standard push up and then once you master its form, you can try out the stability ball push up.
INCLINE PUSH UP MISTAKES TO AVOID
SETTING UP TOO CLOSE TO THE BOX
When you are setting yourself up, don’t move too close to the exercise box as this could cause you to arch your back, which will interfere with your alignment.
WIDE HAND PLACEMENT
Placing the hands too far apart is one of the most common mistakes people make while doing the incline push up.
If you spread your hands too wide, you will limit the range of motion of this exercise hence reducing its overall effectiveness.
SHORT RANGE OF MOTION
You have to do each rep through a full range of motion, from straightening your arms fully to bending them fully.
If you are having a hard time doing this full range, you can begin with a box that is higher or use a wall instead.
The incline push up is an ideal exercise if you want to mix up your fitness routine or if you are looking to avoid putting too much pressure on your upper body joints.
It works pretty much every muscle on your upper body, which helps enhance your overall upper body strength.
What’s even better, you can easily alter it to suit your preference or your fitness level, and you will still benefit from it.
It is also easy to master and doesn’t require any specialized equipment to perform.
Don’t believe this? Add it to your routine today and see for yourself then!