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How to Do Pike Push-Ups: Muscles Worked & Benefits

Pike Push-Ups are pretty tricky exercises for a beginner. But, with practice and good technique, it can be done by a newbie. Here is how to do it and what mistakes to avoid.

Zak Mellor
How to Do Pike Push-Ups: Muscles Worked & Benefits
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In the universe of push-ups, the pike is king. While there are many push-up variations, the pike is considered one of the most challenging variations — almost impossible for beginners.

Pike Push-Ups are challenging moves that engage your arms, shoulders, chest, and core. The muscles used in the movement are your chest, shoulders, and triceps. But don't let the difficulty intimidate you; doing a few sets of pike push-ups every day can help improve your overall strength and fitness levels.

In this post, we will teach you how to do pike push-ups and show you some of the benefits of this exercise. So let's get started!

What is a Pike Push-Up?

Pike Push-up, also known as Jackknife Pushup, is a variation of the regular push-up in which you support your weight on your hands instead of placing them on the floor. This requires increased strength in the upper body as well as core stability.

Pike Push Up can be performed in different ways; the traditional way is to position your hands shoulder-width apart and keep your elbows locked while your body forms a V-shape from your head to your heels.

Building Strength for Pike Push-Ups

First, let's look at how to build strength for Pike Push-ups:

Warmup With Down Dog to Cobra Poses

Before attempting a pike push-up, warm up with doing a couple of down dog to cobra poses. They resemble the shape of the Pike Push Up and also are a great warm up for the shoulders and t-spine.

Master Plank Press

Get familiar with this method to build the muscles needed for pike push-ups. You can do this exercise by using a flat bench or another sturdy object to support your weight as you perform the push-ups.

Wall Push Ups

Before diving into the Pike Push-Ups, it is important to become familiar with the wall pushup. This is the easiest version of the pike push-up and requires less muscle than the traditional version.

These tips will help you familiarize yourself with the pike push-up's difficulty and allow you to improve your technique gradually.

How to Do the Perfect Pike Push-Up

Do a full body warm-up before you do this exercise. This will allow your body to prepare for all the extra work that is about to be put into it. It will also ensure that your body is working effectively and avoiding injury. Here's how to do it:

  • Start by lying face down on the floor, with your elbows and forearms resting on the ground. Your toes should also rest on the floor, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your head and chest high up in the air as if you were making a bridge.
  • Keep your back as straight as possible, your core tight, and your glutes and hamstrings engaged. You should be in a neutral position and use the entirety of your body for this exercise.
  • To do a proper V shape, you must first lift your hips up and back before holding your body in an upside-down V shape.
  • When performing this movement, Stand as straight as you can, with your arms and legs locked.
  • Start to bend your elbows, and then lower your upper body towards the ground.
  • Slowly push yourself up and hold your position until your arms are straight.

This exercise is most effective when you can perform many repetitions with good form, great balance, and strong technique.

Muscles Worked During Pike Push Up

Now you know what Pike Push-ups are, but are they hitting the right muscles you want to target? The answer is yes! You'll be working for multiple muscle groups when you make this move. Let's take a closer look.


The chest muscle group is involved in this movement as you are required to lower and raise your body toward the floor. This movement works more of the upper chest fibers.

The chest muscles involved are pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and pectoralis lateral. Together, these muscles make up what is known as the 'pecs.' They are responsible for the movement required to perform the Pike Push Up.


Well, we couldn't have a move without the involvement of our shoulders. Your shoulders provide the support and stability needed to perform the Pike Push Up, so make sure that your shoulders and back are well warmed up before you begin this exercise.

Solid and stable shoulders will allow you to perform all Pike Push-Up variations successfully.


Lastly, we have triceps. As you're pushing up with your hands on your toes, your triceps work hard to provide you with the movement necessary to complete the Pike Push Up.

The triceps can be divided into three groups: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head. When you raise your arm to perform the Pike Push Up, you are engaging all three groups of your triceps muscles, so this exercise is great for building strength in the back of your upper arms.

Benefits of Pike Push Ups

The Pike Push up is an excellent exercise for overall strength and conditioning. With the involvement of multiple sets of muscles, the Pike Push up is a great workout for your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. Let's comb through the few benefits of Pike Push-ups:

Strengthens the Shoulders

The pectoralis major is the most significant muscle in the chest region and plays an essential role in upper body strength exercises like the pike push-up. The Pike Push Up challenges your endurance by giving you extended time to complete the movement. This puts a greater demand on your shoulders and helps to strengthen them.

Trains the Triceps

The Pike Push Up strengthens the triceps by focusing on the upper portion of the arms. As you get stronger with this exercise, you will develop more definition in the triceps.

Builds Core Stability

In addition, the Pike Push-Up helps develop core strength and stability by engaging your core throughout the exercise. This improves your posture and helps to prevent injury.

Improves Muscular Endurance

The Pike Push up is an excellent exercise for muscular endurance. The longer you can complete each rep, the more work your muscles do. This will help increase your heart rate and improve your ability to push harder for extended periods during your workout.

Pike Push-Up Variations

Pike Push Ups has several variations you can do to target specific muscle groups. Let's start by looking at a couple of the most popular ones.

Single Arm Pike Push Ups

This exercise works the shoulder muscles and requires balance, so you may need to switch to a downward dog or forearm plank between sets if it's too difficult to complete.

  • While performing the standard push-up position, place your hand on your outer leg and raise your body to a plank position with your other hand.
  • Then return to the starting position and complete reps for the prescribed number of sets. Switch arms and repeat the circuit.

Deficit Pike Push Ups

  • Begin in the same position as regular pike push-ups. Place your hands on either push up supports or dumbbells.
  • Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
  • The deficit allows you to go a deeper range of motion.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat for the specified number of sets.

You'll work your chest and shoulders more using a deficit position. This is a popular move used in workouts for people who who want to progress the movement.

Raise a Leg

In this variation, you will raise a leg during each pike push-up and alternate after every repetition. Lifting the same leg throughout a set can be tough, but make sure you keep your balance. This variation works on your legs, mainly your thigh muscles, for a solid workout!

  • Begin in the same position as a pike push-up
  • Now just raise one leg parallel to the ground.
  • Perform the push-up as you will normally do
  • Return to the starting position and raise the opposite leg. Now repeat.


1. Why are Pike Push-ups considered one of the most challenging variations?

This move may seem downright impossible for anyone who struggles with regular pushups. The pike push-up is a more advanced move that puts your body in an inverted V shape position, which loads more weight onto the shoulders and triceps.

2. How effective are pike push-ups?

Pike push-ups are a great way to target your upper body and core. They are a great exercise for increasing strength and stability in the shoulders, chest, and triceps.

3. Why is it called Pike pushup?

It is called Pike pushup because the body position resembles the shape that a pike describes (mountain, fish and spear).

4. Do pike push ups work traps?

Yes, pike push ups work mainly the shoulders, chest, and triceps. They also engage the core muscles to a certain extent. However, they only work on the upper trapezius muscle.

The Bottom Line

Pike Push-ups are a great way to build muscles and make your body lean if done correctly. When first starting, don’t forget to warm up with a few minutes of cardio to prepare your body for the intensive workout. Try out Pike Push-ups variations to target the right muscles, and don’t forget to follow the proper technique, Have a great exercise routine!

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Zak Mellor

Throughout his career, Zak has worked in a wide variety of fitness related roles that have allowed him opportunities to work with countless products including kettlebells, home cardio equipment, yoga mats, fitness clothing, shaker/water bottles and much more.

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