Whether your goal is to improve your muscle strength or just to impress your friends with the perfect hand-stand, the pike push up is a great option to consider.
This push-up variation is a hybrid of the dolphin and downward-facing dog poses, both which are popularly practiced in yoga.
Here’s how to do it:
- Begin in a regular push up position, with your legs straight.
- Then, bend your hips to reach to your toes with your hands.
- Walk your hands in front of you until both palms are flat on the floor, with your arms extended outwards.
- Straighten your legs too, but don’t lock them at the knees. Your heels should either be flat on the floor or raised.
- At this point, you should have created an inverted “V” frame with your body. This is your starting position.
- Make sure your arms are shoulder-width apart and slowly begin to bend your elbows to lower your torso towards the floor. You should fix your gaze in between your legs and not down on the floor.
- Do not let the top of your head get into contact with the ground. Instead, drive your toes and hands into the ground to help with stabilizing your body before you extend your elbows to get back to the starting position.
- Do 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps each.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE PIKE PUSH UP WORK?
The muscles in your torso work the hardest to keep your body solid during the pike push up.
The most significant ones are your trapezius in the upper back, anterior deltoids in your shoulders and the pectoralis major in the chest.
Your core also helps maintain balance and stability throughout the exercise and the triceps load your weight to help drive the push up.
BENEFITS OF THE PIKE PUSH UP
Your shoulder muscles are the main movers in the pike push up.
The inverted “V” frame emphasizes more on your shoulders as opposed to your chest (like with a traditional push up).
Stronger deltoids help with lifting movements while also minimizing the risk of shoulder injury.
EASY TO MODIFY
The pike push up is quite versatile, with a lot of variations you can use to increase or decrease the difficulty.
For instance, if you are looking to increase the challenge, you can perform it with your heels raised, with your feet elevated, or with one leg raised.
Some of the popular options for decreasing the challenge are doing it on your knees, widening your arm distance in the pike position and using yoga blocks to elevate your hands from the floor.
The pike push up recruits your core muscles to help keep your spine straight and prevent you from falling over.
Engaging your core as you shift your bodyweight over your head makes this exercise a great functional movement.
PREPS YOU FOR HARDER BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
Once you master the correct form for the pike push-up, you’ll have built the foundation for more challenging bodyweight exercises.
The strength and balance required for this movement help you develop good form for exercises that involve inversion, such as the hand-stand.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE PIKE PUSH UP
WEIGHTED SEATED OVERHEAD TRICEP EXTENSION
For the weighted seated overhead tricep extension, you need a sturdy surface to sit on and a free weight such as a dumbbell to provide some resistance.
Follow these steps to do it properly:
- Get a sturdy surface, like a bench, and sit on it.
- Hold one dumbbell overhead with both hands. Your wrists should remain straight throughout the exercise.
- Fold your arm slowly at the elbow to lower the weight, until the lower arms are on a horizontal line.
- Raise the weight again in a slow and controlled motion until you get back to the starting position.
If you are a beginner, you don’t want too you use too much weight; this could ruin your form. Start with a relatively light weight and increase the amount as you get stronger.
Note that you are allowed to do this exercise while standing, but this might make it easy to you to move the resistance using the rest of your body.
By doing it seated, you get to really use your triceps to move the resistance, which then isolates and triggers faster muscle growth in your arms.
HALF-KNEELING LANDMINE PRESS
For this exercise, you need to first set up the barbell in a landmine attachment that will secure it for the rest of the exercise.
Then, add your desired number of weight plates to the free end of the barbell and follow these steps:
- Get on one knee in front of the barbell, with the other foot placed on the floor for stability.
- Using a neutral grip, grab the free barbell end. Your palm should either be facing upward or the center of the barbell.
- Move the barbell up slowly until your arm almost is almost stretched.
- Get the barbell back to the starting position in a controlled motion.
- Do as many reps as you desire
PIKE PUSH UP MISTAKES TO AVOID
LETTING YOUR HEAD TOUCH THE FLOOR
Your head should not be in contact with the floor at all.
Instead, aim at touching it with your nose to gain a greater range of motion.
FLARING YOUR ELBOWS OUT TO THE SIDES
Just like with other push ups, your elbows should not be sticking out to the sides during a pike push up.
They should remain static and vertical.
If you’re finding it difficult to make this happen, turn your hands out to make your index finger face forward.
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you surely do agree that the pike push up could be a worthy addition to your upper body workout routine.
And if you are just getting started on practicing this movement, this article offers a few variations you could start with until you are strong enough to do the conventional one.
Similarly, if you find the traditional version of it too simple, you can increase its intensity by using any of the variations provided here.
Feel free to experiment with some of these variations until you find one that works perfectly for you and suits your fitness level.
All the best!