Incline Push-Up Exercise

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Incline Push-Ups (Torso-Elevated Push-Ups)

What Type of Push-Up Works the Lower Chest?

Although this is called the incline push-up, it focuses more on the lower pecs. Also, because your upper body is raised from the floor, the resistance your body provides is decreased compared to doing the push-up on the floor.
Incline push-up (torso elevated push-up) exercise is similar to the decline bench press, but it uses the body’s own weight. It belongs in the basic, multiple-joint exercise category because both the shoulder and the elbow joints are mobilized.
All push-ups work out the chest muscles (pectoralis major), but you can alter which section of the chest muscle (middle, upper, or lower) is primarily recruited by changing the angle at which you complete the exercise.
Completing the push-up in an incline position by placing your hands on an object increases the amount that the lower chest must work.

Incline Push-Ups Exercise Instructions

Exercise technique is the same as in decline push-up variant but with your feet on the ground and your hands on a bench or step.

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Place your hands on top of a sturdy chair or table slightly wider than shoulder width and your feet close together on the ground.

Incline Push-Up ExerciseMOVEMENT (ACTION): Keeping your glutes contracted and your body in a straight line, lower yourself until your chest touches the bench or table. Reverse the movement and raise your body up by pushing your palms into the bench to fully extend your arms without locking out the elbows at the top. Reverse the movement to return your upper body toward the bench.

Incline Push-Up Tips & Tricks

  • Lower your chest down towards the bench by bending your elbows and allowing them to flare out.
  • A wider than shoulder-width hand position focuses more on your pecs, while putting your hands closer together than shoulder-width will put more emphasis on your triceps.
  • Your body should be extended behind you with just your toes touching the floor.
  • Keeping your body straight as a plank, lower your chest to the bench by bending your elbows (let them point outward as you descend).

Muscles Engaged

The lower and center parts of the pectoral muscle work harder in this variant. Furthermore, any exercise where you are using your arms to push yourself or an object against gravity will strengthen not only your pectorals, but your shoulders and triceps as well.

  • Main muscles: pectoralis major (lower portion), triceps, deltoids (anterior)
  • Secondary muscles: serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, subscapularis
  • Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids (posterior)

Exercise Variations (Make It Harder)

  • Stability Ball Incline Push-Ups. Raise the angle of elevation to 45 degrees, by placing your hands an a Swiss ball. Then complete the exercise as if you were completing it on a bench. If you feel uncomfortable completing regular incline push-ups with an exercise ball, begin by completing them on your knees instead of from your toes. Keep in mind that the instability of the exercise ball makes the exercise far more difficult to perform than the standard incline push-up and helps to work the shoulder girdle stabilizer muscles and core. Make sure the ball is fairly secure and get into push-up position with your hands on the ball and feet on the floor. Your elbows should be bent with your upper arms out to your sides. This one will really work your shoulder stabilisers and improve your strength, balance and muscular coordination.

Stability Ball Push-Up

Replacement Exercises (substitutes)

Perform any other pressing lower chest exercise:

Closing Thoughts

Incline push-up (lower chest push-up) is a great beginner variation because it allows you to perform the movement with proper core activation and accustoms you to keeping the body long and straight. If you’re not ready for the classic push-up, you can start working up to it by placing your hands on an elevated surface, like the bench, a table, bureau, armrest of a futon or couch, or a wall. The higher the surface, the easier it gets.

As you progress, perform the movement from a lower table or chair to bring yourself closer to the ground. Eventually you’ll be able to perform push-ups from the floor.

Some strength coaches prefer various types of push-up exercises to barbell bench pressing because they feel it’s a safer and more natural movement pattern. Many feel that the requirements of the scapular stabilizers during the movement creates strong and healthy shoulders and safeguards against injury. The push-up is also a military training staple.

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