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Master the Pike Push Up: A Comprehensive Guide to Build Strength

Pike Push-Up

Looking to elevate your push-up game and take your upper body strength to the next level? Look no further than the pike push-up! This dynamic exercise is a game-changer for anyone seeking to build sculpted shoulders, a rock-solid core, and impressive pushing power.


What are Pike Push-Ups?


The pike push-up, also known as a jackknife push-up and elevated pike push-up, is a variation of the classic push-up that offers a potent dose of challenge and reward. By elevating your hips and forming an inverted V shape with your body, you shift the focus to your shoulders and triceps (the backs of your upper arms), while still engaging your core for stability. This unique position makes the pike push-up a fantastic exercise for all types of fitness levels.


For Beginners it helps to build foundational strength and prepares you for more advanced push-up variations. For Intermediate exercisers, the pike push-up provides a targeted challenge to push your upper body strength and stability to new heights. Lastly, this exercise enhances core engagement and overall pushing power for athletes, translating into improved performance in various sports.


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Classic Push-Up


Imagine a perfect plank position – your body forms a straight line from head to heels, with core engaged and hands shoulder-width apart. This position primarily targets your chest muscles (pectorals) and triceps.


Pike Push-Up


Now, envision yourself performing a push-up with your hips elevated. Think of an inverted V shape formed by your body. This elevated position shifts the focus to your shoulders (deltoids), particularly the front portion (anterior deltoid) while keeping your triceps and core engaged.


The key difference lies in body positioning. By elevating your hips, you create a lever that increases the load on your shoulders, making the pike push-up a more targeted and challenging exercise for this crucial muscle group.


Muscles Worked by Pike Push-Ups


Now, let's delve deeper into the muscle groups that get fired up during a pike push-up:


Primary Muscles


Anterior Deltoid (Shoulders)

This is the front portion of your shoulder, responsible for shoulder flexion (lifting your arm forward). The pike push-up position puts significant stress on this muscle, leading to increased strength and definition.


Research published on PubMed has highlighted that the Push-up exercise (PUE) serves as an exemplary closed kinetic chain exercise (CKCE), effectively enhancing the strength of shoulder and trunk muscles essential for daily activities.


Triceps (Back of Upper Arms)

Just like in a regular push-up, your triceps play a crucial role in extending your elbows and pushing you back up to the starting position. Pike push-ups help build tricep strength and power.


Secondary Muscles


Pectorals (Chest)

While not the primary target, your chest muscles still get a workout during pike push-ups, assisting with the pushing motion.


Core (Abdominals and Lower Back)

Maintaining a stable and rigid core is essential for proper form and power transfer throughout the movement. Pike push-ups effectively engage your core muscles, promoting overall stability and posture.


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Benefits of Pike Push-Ups


The pike push-up isn't just another exercise; it's a multi-faceted powerhouse that delivers a range of benefits for your entire upper body and core. Here's how incorporating pike push-ups into your routine can transform your fitness:


Build Upper Body Strength


This exercise is a sculpting champion! It primarily targets your shoulders and triceps, leading to significant strength gains. The elevated position in pike push-ups increases the load on your shoulders, promoting impressive definition and pushing power. Additionally, your chest muscles get a secondary workout, contributing to a well-developed upper body.


Improve Shoulder Health and Stability


Strong shoulders are essential for everyday activities and athletic performance. Pike push-ups strengthen the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint, enhancing stability and reducing the risk of injuries. This targeted focus can help improve your posture and prevent shoulder pain associated with weakness or imbalances.


Strengthen Core and Improve Posture


Don't underestimate the core engagement during pike push-ups. Maintaining a rigid core throughout the movement is crucial for proper form and power transfer. This isometric exercise strengthens your core muscles, leading to better posture and improved stability in various activities.


Increase Functional Strength


The benefits of pike push-ups extend beyond aesthetics. The pushing motion translates to real-world functionality, improving your ability to perform everyday tasks that require pushing or lifting objects. Whether you're carrying groceries or pushing a lawnmower, pike push-ups can make these tasks feel effortless.


Progression Exercise for Advanced Push-Up Variations


As you master the pike push-up, it becomes a stepping stone to conquer even more challenging push-up variations. This exercise builds the necessary strength and stability to progress to exercises like handstand push-ups or decline push-ups, taking your push-up game to the next level.


Perfect Pike Push-Ups Form-How to Do Pike Push-ups


Pike push up

Ready to conquer the pike push-up? By following these steps and focusing on proper form, you'll be well on your way to mastering this powerful exercise and unlocking its full potential.


Warm-up: Before diving into pike push-ups, dedicate a few minutes to a light warm-up. This could include arm circles, shoulder rolls, and dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles for the exercise.


High Plank: Assume a high plank position. Imagine yourself in a perfect push-up stance. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, directly under your shoulders, with fingers spread wide. Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine and create a straight line from head to heels.


Engage Your Shoulders: Now, the key move for the pike push-up. Shift your weight forward by pushing through your palms and pike your hips upwards. Think of forming an inverted V shape with your body, keeping your legs straight. Feel your shoulders engaged and core braced throughout this movement.


Controlled Descent: With your body in the pike position, begin to lower yourself down by bending your elbows. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body, pointing slightly backward towards your ribs. Maintain the inverted V shape as you descend, ensuring your core stays tight.


Head in Line: A crucial point – avoid letting your head dip down below your spine. Maintain a neutral neck position, keeping your head in line with your back throughout the movement.


Explosive Press: Once your chest nears the ground (but not touching!), press back up explosively to the starting position. Focus on driving through your palms and engaging your shoulders and triceps to extend your elbows and push yourself back up.


Remember:


  • Maintain a controlled and steady pace throughout the movement.

  • Focus on quality over quantity – prioritize perfect form over rushing through repetitions.

  • Breathe! Inhale as you lower yourself down, and exhale forcefully as you press back up.


Pro Tip: If you find regular pike push-ups challenging initially, consider starting with incline pike push-ups by placing your hands on a sturdy bench or platform. This modification reduces the difficulty and allows you to build the necessary strength before progressing to full-pike push-ups.


Modifications for Beginners


Don't be discouraged if regular pike push-ups seem daunting at first. The beauty of exercise is that there are always modifications you can make to suit your current fitness level. Here are some fantastic options for beginners to build the necessary strength and progress towards mastering the full pike push-up:


Incline Pike Push-Ups


This variation provides a more manageable challenge by reducing the weight placed on your shoulders.

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the elevated surface (bench or chair).

  • Assume a high plank position with your core engaged and body forming a straight line from head to heels.

  • Maintain an inverted V shape with your hips elevated but ensure your feet are on the ground, providing additional stability.

  • Lower yourself down by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your body.

  • Press back up to the starting position with control.


Knee Pike Push-Ups


This modification offers a less demanding alternative by reducing the overall weight you need to move.


  • Begin in a high plank position on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart directly under your shoulders.

  • Engage your core and form a straight line with your body.

  • Instead of elevating your hips, keep your knees on the ground, forming a modified inverted V shape.

  • Lower yourself down by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your body.

  • Press back up to the starting position with control.


Wall Pike Push-Ups


This beginner-friendly option utilizes a wall for support, allowing you to practice the pike position and build upper body strength.


  • Stand close to a wall, with your hands shoulder-width apart slightly below shoulder height on the wall.

  • Walk your feet back until your body forms a straight line from head to heels, with a slight forward lean.

  • Engage your core and maintain an inverted V shape with your hips elevated.

  • Bend your elbows, lowering yourself closer to the wall while keeping your core tight and elbows tucked in.

  • Press back up to the starting position with control.


Push-up ProgressionMore Difficult Variations


Once you've mastered the basic pike push-up with proper form, it's time to challenge yourself further! Here are some variations to increase the difficulty and keep your upper body development progressing:


Deficit Pike Push-Ups


Execution: Elevate your feet by placing them on a sturdy platform (bench, box, step). This increases the range of motion and intensifies the exercise by placing more stress on your shoulders and triceps.


Progression Tip: Start with a lower platform height and gradually increase it as you get stronger.


Weighted Pike Push-Ups


Execution: Add weight to your standard pike push-up for an extra challenge. You can use a weight vest, hold dumbbells in each hand, or place a weight plate on your back (with proper support).


Progression Tip: Start with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the movement. Gradually increase the weight as you build strength.


Single-Leg Pike Push-Ups


Execution: This advanced variation adds a balance challenge and further strengthens your core. Start in the pike push-up position, then lift one leg off the ground and extend it straight behind you. Perform the pike push-up using only one leg for support. Repeat on the other side.


Progression Tip: Master regular single-leg pike push-ups before attempting them with added weight.


Common Mistakes to Avoid


Maintaining proper form is crucial to maximize benefits and avoid injury during pike push-ups. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:


Hunching Back: This can strain your lower back. Keep your core engaged and maintain a straight line with your body throughout the movement, as if there's a rod running down your spine.


Flaring Elbows: This reduces the effectiveness on your chest and triceps. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your sides at a 45-degree angle throughout the exercise.


Letting Hips Sag: This throws your body out of alignment and reduces the intensity of the exercise. Keep your hips high and maintain a straight line from head to heels.


Rushing the Movement: Slow and controlled movements are key to proper form and maximizing muscle engagement. Lower yourself down and push back up with control during pike push-ups.


Safety Tips: Prioritize Safety During Your Pike Push-Up Journey


Warm Up Properly: Before diving into pike push-ups, perform a dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints. This helps prevent injuries.

Start Light: Don't jump straight into advanced variations. Begin with the basic pike push-up and gradually progress to more challenging variations as you build strength.

Listen to Your Body: Pain is a signal to stop. If you experience any discomfort, stop the exercise and consult a healthcare professional.

Focus on Form Over Weight: Proper form is essential for maximizing benefits and avoiding injuries. Don't prioritize adding weight over maintaining good form

Consult a Healthcare Professional: Especially if you have any pre-existing injuries or limitations, consulting a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, including pike push-ups, is highly recommended. They can guide you on proper form and advise on modifications that may be suitable for you.


Conclusion: Elevate Your Upper Body with Pike Push-Ups


Pike push-ups are a fantastic exercise for building upper body strength, targeting your shoulders, chest, triceps, and core. They offer a progression from regular push-ups and can be further modified to challenge various fitness levels.


FAQ-1: How many calories do pike push-ups burn?

The exact number of calories burned during pike push-ups depends on several factors, including your body weight, exercise duration, and intensity. However, as a general estimate, a minute of vigorous push-ups (including variations like pike push-ups) can burn around 7-10 calories for a person weighing 155 pounds


FAQ-2: I can't do a single regular push-up. Can I still do Pike push-ups?

Focus on mastering regular push-ups before progressing to pike push-ups. In the meantime, consider incline push-ups or wall push-ups to build upper body strength and prepare for pike push-ups in the future.

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