What are Pike Push-Ups?
For some individuals, the challenge of doing a regular push-up is daunting enough. For others, the redundant and repetitive routine of a normal push-up has become a bore and are no longer getting the enjoyment and challenge out of one of the best full-body bodyweight exercises. As a great workout to improve upper body strength and core stability, the pike push-up (or jackknife push-up) is a progression exercise to successfully executing a handstand push-up.
Which Muscles are Trained During Pike Push-Ups?
Focusing on proper form and technique, the push-up “family” focuses on muscle groups in your upper body, core, and lower body. With more weight loaded onto the shoulders and the triceps when in the push motion, pike push-ups focus on the deltoids (shoulders), triceps, pectoralis (chest), trapezius (upper back) and serratus anterior and inferior (ribs).
Benefits Of Doing Push-Ups
One of the great things about the push-up regardless of what form you are doing is that they can be done anywhere. Whether you are at home, at the park, or even at the office, if you have enough room to lay your body out, you have enough room for push-ups. If you want to challenge yourself, use the environment around you for elevated or decline position, or change your form.
As push-ups are a full-body workout they require a large amount of energy in a series of short bursts. With large muscle groups being used to lift and hold all of your body weight, an average size person will burn approximately ½ a calorie per pushup.
With large muscle groups teaming up to alternately lift and lower the body in a rapid movement, the heart rate increases. Increasing the heart rate during exercise can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lower body weight.
How to do Pike Push-Ups with Proper Form
As a more technical exercise than the regular push-up, it is important to be mindful of having the correct form. Pike Push-Up can be done with your feet flat on the floor or elevated on a bench or box. If you have limited flexibility in your hamstrings, you may want to explore elevating your feet for this exercise.
*The following instructions are detailing the exercise with feet on the floor
- If you are a beginner, set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. For more of a challenge place your hands in a more narrow position inside of shoulder width.
- Starting from a regular push-up position, slowly walk your feet in towards your hands with your body forming an upside-down “V” shape. This will focus the load of your weight onto your shoulders.
- With your elbows tucked in, bend at your elbows and slowly lower your forehead towards the floor. Look through your legs as you lower down, do not look directly down at the ground. Gently allow your forehead to touch the floor for optimal depth. You may want to consider placing a small folded towel as a marker for your head. Your head and hands should form a triangle shape.
- Slowly and smoothly, with your shoulders engaged, push with your arms and return to the starting position.
Pike Push-Up Tips
As with any exercise routine or workout, making sure that you engage in a proper warmup is key to not only receiving the full benefit of the exercise but also avoiding any potential injury.
- Breathing cadence is important. Inhale on the downward motion, exhale on the return back up.
- Aim for a tempo of three seconds down, one-second pause, and a three count return to the top.
- Complementary weighted exercises for pike push-ups are the shoulder press, front and lateral raises, reverse fly, and shoulder shrugs.
- If you are elevating your feet, place them near the edge of the platform. Placing your feet in the middle or at the back of the platform makes the exercise easier.
- Elevating your hands on parallettes or blocks will help increase your range of motion.
- Practice your Downward Dog yoga form as the pike push-up uses a similar form and it will assist with hamstring and hip flexibility
Mistakes to Avoid
Maintaining proper form is not only important for getting all the benefits out of a specific exercise, but it also limits the chance of injury. As there are many key elements to performing a proper pike push-up, keep these common errors in mind
- If you are not comfortable being upside-down, get dizzy easily, or have low blood pressure, do not attempt the pike push-up.
- Do not allow your elbows to flare out, keep them tucked in.
- Do not confuse pike push-ups with headstand pushups. Keep your elbows stacked over your wrists
- Do not arch your back to use more of your chest, keep the pike position by keeping your core and glutes engaged. Complete the full range of motion.
- Do not make it a horizontal exercise, remember it is a vertical exercise.
- When you press up, do not use the legs and hips, press with your shoulders.
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