Inclined push-ups - working muscles and technique

Inclined push-ups can be used to target individual sections of the chest or to add variety to a regular workout. Depending on the position of your body relative to the horizon, you can increase or decrease the load in comparison with classical push-ups, as well as shift its focus to the lower or upper part of the pectoral muscles.

The dependence of the load on the inclination of the body

In the classic version of the push-ups, the legs and arms are on the floor, and during the movement, the body takes a parallel position to the floor. Depending on how we put our hands, we can make the pectoral muscles (palms wide) or triceps (palms narrowly) work the most. But what happens if we raise our legs above the head, or, conversely, put our hands on a stand?

Legs on the support

When the legs are higher than the head, the body weight is mainly on the hands, and the hands as you know, smaller and weaker than the legs.

Therefore, this type of push-ups is a complicated variation of the classical exercise. You should include such push-ups in your training program if you have already mastered the basic push-ups perfectly.

Inclined push-ups - working muscles and technique

In fact, push-ups with raised legs are an inverted version of the bench press with a positive incline. In this case, the upper chest is accentuated. More specifically, the load distribution looks like this:

  • pectoral muscles (emphasis on the upper part);
  • deltoid muscles (anterior bundles);
  • triceps;
  • abs and back muscles work in static.

The wider we put our hands, the more actively the chest works, especially the external part, the narrower - the greater the load on the triceps. With a narrow setting of the hands, the load, which nevertheless goes to the chest, is shifted to their inner part.

Also, the higher you place your legs, the more deltoids are involved. If we continue to raise our legs and get to the push-ups in the handstand, in fact it will be an exercise on the shoulders.

The optimal inclination of the body for the development of the upper chest is 30-45 degrees at the lower point (chest near the floor).

That is, in the initial position of the legs, it is enough to put on a bench or fitball. With the latter option, the case also works actively.

Hands on a support

When we put our hands above our feet, that is, on a bench or stand, most of the body weight falls on our feet. And this is a completely natural state of affairs; we carry our entire weight on our feet only daily. Accordingly, this version of the exercise is much easier than legs above the head.

Inclined push-ups - working muscles and technique

This type of push-ups is well suited for beginners who are still struggling with the classic version of the exercise.

Why do this ease, ask an experienced athlete? The answer is simple - the exercise perfectly engages the lower pectoral muscles. Therefore, if for some reason this site is behind you, you can purposefully work on its development.So that life doesn’t seem like honey, we take a burden in the form of a backpack or vest.

The load distribution is as follows:

  • pectoral muscles (emphasis on the lower part);
  • triceps;
  • muscles of the abs, back and legs experiencing static stress.


Push-ups in most cases do not provide for mandatory additional weights. Therefore, they are safer than barbell or dumbbell presses. However, with injuries of the elbow, shoulder joints or hands, it is better to refrain from the exercise until complete recovery.

An inverted version of push-ups should be used with caution with high blood pressure, diseases of the vessels of the head or eyes.

The technique of push-ups "legs above the head"

Accept the emphasis lying down, as for classic push-ups.

The palms are under the chest, choose the distance between them based on your training goals. If you want to maximize the load on your chest - put your hands wider, working on the development of triceps, or if you are specifically interested in the inside of the chest - use a narrow palm setting.

  1. Put your feet on a platform - a bench, sofa, fitball. The body should be absolutely straight, without deflection in the lower back. The press and back are in static tension.

  2. On inhalation, by bending your elbows, lower your chest down to the floor. Do not bend your back.
  3. On exhalation, push yourself up due to the effort of the target muscle group (chest or triceps).

Inclined push-ups - working muscles and technique

Repeat the exercise as many times as necessary, for example, 10-15, rest and do another 2-3 approaches.

The technique of push-ups “arms above legs”

Here everything is almost the same as in the previous version.

Put your hands on a support and step back with your feet until your body is completely straight.

  1. On inspiration, bend your elbows and lower your chest almost to the support.
  2. On the exhale, rise to the starting position.

If the exercise seems too easy for you, use additional weights (to emphasize the bottom of the chest) or go to the classic push-ups (to increase the load).

Inclined push-ups - working muscles and technique

Perform an exercise of 10-15 repetitions in 3-4 approaches.

Regularly performing push-ups, both inclined and classic, you can comprehensively work out the muscles of the upper body, increase strength and endurance.



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