How to Do Pike Pushups: The Complete Exercise Guide

A pike pushup is a variation of the regular pushup. It involves lifting the hips up to create an “A” shape. It’s not just another exercise; it’s one of the cornerstones of calisthenics. It helps you build strength, especially on your shoulders, to prepare for more challenging calisthenics exercises like handstand pushups.

But how do you perform this exercise correctly? How do you ensure you have the proper form to do it safely? What does an incorrect form look like? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to perform the pike pushup properly and safely.



Setting Up for the Pike Pushup

Executing the Pike Pushup with Precision

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Variations of the Pike Pushup

  • Elevated Pike Pushup
  • Single Leg Pike Pushup
  • Wall-Assisted Pike Pushup
  • Weighted Pike Pushup

Frequently Asked Questions


Setting Up for the Pike Pushup

Much like the familiar downward-facing dog in yoga, the pike pushup starts in a position that requires you to align your body in a specific way. Get on all fours with your hands at shoulder length and knees hip-width apart. You’re supposed to feel at ease here because your hands and knees are right below your shoulders and hips.

Slowly walk your feet back as you lift your hips into an inverted V shape. Remember to try to keep your legs as straight as possible. Ensure your hands are positioned slightly in front of your face, wider than your shoulder width. This makes the position more stable and prevents you from falling face-first on the floor.

Make sure you are comfortable in this position first. If you have difficulty keeping your legs straight, consider stretching first for better flexibility. 

Executing the Pike Pushup with Precision

While it is essential to have good form when starting the pike pushup, retaining good form while executing it is even more crucial. 

From the starting position, lower yourself until your head nearly touches the floor by bending at the elbows. Keep them tucked to your sides and avoid flaring them out. Your forearms should remain vertical throughout the pushup for proper form.

As you descend, allow your shoulder blades to move freely. Keep your core tight and braced while doing this exercise. Keep the tension in your shoulders, and be mindful of how it stretches. This creates a mind-muscle connection.

Once you’ve lowered yourself enough, push back to your starting position. In this part of the exercise, engage your triceps, shoulders, and chest.

If you’re trying this out for the first time, do it slowly and observe how your body responds. It is preferable to practice this movement in front of a mirror to see your body’s form. If a mirror isn’t accessible, take a video of yourself while exercising. This allows you to check your form and identify areas for improvement.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Just like any other exercise, the pike pushup is prone to mistakes. Improper form can strain the shoulder joints, increasing the risk of injury. For example, letting your elbows flare out when you descend can lead to shoulder strain and injury.

Another common mistake is not putting tension on the core. This causes the back to round and makes the exercise easier. However, this may not target the shoulders properly and can cause back strain.

To prevent this, fully engage your core to keep your body rigid in the inverted V shape. An engaged core will help keep the body’s structure and prevent your back from arching.

Variations of the Pike Pushup

There are several variations of the pike pushup. Each variation targets different muscle groups and can make the exercise more challenging. These exercises are great for building upper body strength.

  1. Elevated Pike Pushup

Your feet have to be elevated on a stable surface. Find a bench or sturdy box if you’re doing this at home. This increases the resistance and puts more tension on your shoulders. It’s an excellent variation if you want to focus on your shoulder muscles.

  1. Single Leg Pike Pushup

Aim to elevate one leg in this variation while performing the pike pushup. This increases the intensity of the exercise, which requires you to have more control of your abdomen. Switching from one leg to another when doing repetitions of this exercise to avoid muscular imbalances is advisable.

  1. Wall-Assisted Pike Pushup

Stand facing a wall and assume the pike position with your hands on the ground and your feet on the wall. Perform the pushup motion while maintaining the inverted V position. This variation of pike pushup is excellent for beginners.

  1. Weighted Pike Pushup

If you’ve mastered the other variations of the pike pushup, then add more weight to make it more challenging. Place a weight plate or a weighted vest to add resistance. This helps you grow more muscle and develop strength. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do my shoulders hurt when doing pike pushups?

Incorrect form, like flaring out of the elbows, can cause shoulder discomfort. Keeping your elbows tucked to your sides is essential to maintain proper alignment and prevent shoulder strain. Building shoulder flexibility before trying out pike pushups can also help avoid stress. 

How do pike pushups differ from regular pushups in terms of muscle engagement?

Pushups target the chest, shoulders, triceps, anterior deltoids, and core muscles. Pike pushups target the anterior deltoid and triceps brachii. It also engages the upper pectoralis major, middle deltoid, and other synergist muscles. The declined position emphasizes the shoulders better than a standard pushup. 

Can pike pushups help me progress to handstand pushups?

Pike pushups are the perfect exercise to build foundational strength for headstands and handstand pushup training. Mastering the proper form in the vertical plane of motion sets the stage for more advanced calisthenics skills.


Incorporating the pike pushup into your workout routine isn’t just about building strength. It’s a great exercise to master as a foundation for advanced calisthenics moves. With proper form and understanding of the exercise, you can execute it safely while reaping its benefits.

Remember to stretch before you perform this exercise. This allows your shoulders to warm up and prepare for the motion. With enough patience and practice, you can master the pike pushup!

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