Pike Push Ups Beginner Tutorial: Build Bigger Shoulders

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What are Pike Push Ups? 

The pike push-up is a great exercise for building up your shoulders and core strength.  It will give you a solid vertical pushing power, and if you’re looking to build strength for advanced skills such as the handstand and handstand push-ups, then this would be your go-to exercise.

If you want to know what it takes to be able to balance yourself upside down, then check out this complete handstand tutorial where I cover all of the progressions that you’ll need to do to unlock this skill. 

What muscles do Pike Push Ups Work?

The primary muscles worked for pike push-ups are anterior deltoids, triceps, pectoralis major, trapezius, and serratus anterior. The secondary muscles worked are the rectus abdominis, obliques, quadriceps, and glutes.

How to do Pike Push Ups?

1. Start In a Plank Position

Start on all fours in a plank position with your arms shoulders width apart, and shoulders stacked on top of your wrists. Squeeze your core and glutes to ensure your body is in a straight line.

2. Walk Your Feet Towards Your Hands

Engage your core and slowly walk your feet towards your hands, as you do this your hips will lift up and your body should form an inverted V-shape between your torso and your legs. Your head will be in between your arms. Keep your arms and legs as straight as possible, and stay on your tiptoes.

3. Gradually Lower Down

Inhale, lean forward and lower down slowly by bending the elbows, keeping them tucked in towards your torso. Your forehead should gently touch the ground at the point in between your hands and above your fingers line.

4. Gradually Push Back Up

Whilst keeping your core and legs engaged,  exhale out of your mouth and push back up into the starting position. You will push overhead and shrug the shoulders up to complete each rep, and tuck your ears in-between your shoulders. This will ensure a full range of motion, which is useful in building strength, flexibility, and size in the shoulders.

Pike Push Up Form

Here are the ques for executing pike push-ups with perfect form:

  • Keep your arms and legs as straight as possible
  • Lower down until your forehead touches the ground
  • Engage your core and legs throughout the movement
  • Keep your scapular elevated in the starting position and depressed during the downward phase

Pike Push Ups Workout

  • Beginners should aim to do 2-3 reps of slow and controlled reps, for 4 sets, 2-3 times a week
  • Intermediate-level individuals should practice this from 4-10 reps, for 4 sets, 2-3 times a week
  • Advanced level individuals should perform 10 or more reps, for 4 sets, 2-3 times a week.

What are the benefits of Pike Push Ups?

1. Build Shoulder Strength 

Pike push-up is a progression to the traditional push-up as it demands more from your shoulders muscles. It loads more weight onto the shoulders and triceps when pushing back up as the body will be in an inverted V shape position. On top of this, it will create hypertrophy in the deltoids using only your body weight!

According to Arthritis Health, by strengthening the muscles around the shoulders including the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizing muscles, the shoulder’s surrounding joint becomes more firm. This stability can help mitigate bone dislocation as well as protect bones from impact and friction, therefore reducing pain. 

2. Improve Balance And Stability 

This exercise is a core killer. A pike is when the hips bend, and your legs stay straight, so as you walk your feet in a pike position your core will be engaged to prevent your body from toppling forward. This means that your proprioceptive muscle fibers will be constantly put at work during this movement which improves your balance and stability. 

3. Improve Your Handstand

You can improve your handstand with the Pike Push Up. It develops your shoulders strength for hand balancing as well as vertical pushing power for the handstand push-up. Like the handstand, the pike push-up puts more load over the upper body and into your shoulders. Another major benefit of this is that you don’t need to be able to hold a handstand to perform this, therefore making it a great beginner progression whilst you practice your handstand!

What are the different variations to Pike Push Ups?

Feet Elevated Pike Push Up

This variation is a progression to the pike push-up, therefore, it is an advanced level exercise. You will put your feet on an elevated surface such as a table, a chair, or a plyometric box as this will put more load on your upper body, especially your shoulders and triceps.

To gain the most out of this exercise, you should stack your hips directly on top of your shoulders, and make sure to engage your core to prevent yourself from toppling over. The benefit of this is that it will create more overload and create more strength adaptation when the pike push-ups get easy.

Incline Pike Push Up

This variation is a regression to the pike push-up. So for the beginners out there, this is the perfect exercise for you. It primarily still works on your deltoids, triceps, pecs, and traps, but the only difference is that your hands are now placed on an elevated surface.

As you get into the starting position, your weight will be distributed away from your upper body to your legs, therefore, reducing the load which makes this exercise easier to perform.

Dolphin Pose

The dolphin pose requires you to be in a similar body shape to that of the pike push-up and the downward-facing dog yoga pose. It is a regression exercise, which makes it a great practice for beginners.

This variation is done on your forearms as your arms will be bent and your heart will be above your head. Instead of pushing up, you will remain in a static hold position. The benefits of the dolphin pose is that it strengthens and stretches the shoulders, triceps, traps, legs, as well as training the core.

Standard Push Up

The standard push-up is a classic and an essential exercise for building your upper body strength. You should master this exercise before moving on to the pike push-up. This exercise does not require any equipment and will enhance your pushing strength as it works on the triceps, pectorals, and shoulders. I have made written a comprehensive guide to this exercise, check out this standard push-ups tutorial.

Diamond Push Up

The diamond push-up is a harder variation than that of the standard push-up. You can do this by bringing your hands close together (connecting your index fingers to each other, and your thumb to each other) to form a diamond or triangle shape below your chest. This variation is challenging as it relies more on the triceps and limits the involvement in the pecs and shoulder muscles. Check out this diamond push-up tutorial to learn the correct form and technique for this exercise.

The Final Verdict: Pike Push Ups

Whether your goal is the be able to hold a perfect handstand or improve your strength and endurance to your shoulders and core needed for everyday functional movements, the pike push-up is a great choice. This bodyweight exercise requires no equipment and it will build your upper body strength in the shoulders and core. Training this twice a week is a great starting point, and once it becomes too easy, you can progress to elevated pike push-ups.

Check out these other push-up variations to target different muscle groups:


All Push Exercises

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