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Pike Pushups - Exercise Database

Are you looking for those shapely shoulders?

You know what I'm talking about... delts that pop adding sexy muscle definition to your arms.

Arms that look amazing in tank tops and drop dead gorgeous in blouses and dresses.

Pike pushups are one of the best bodyweight exercises that will begin to define and shape your shoulders.

I'm going to help you perfect pike pushup form so you can start getting stronger, more defined arms.

How To Do Pike Pushups

Kindal starting in a top of pushup plank so she can easily get into the pike pushup position.
Kindal in the pike pushups position with her feet wide and she is on her tippy toes ready to go down.
Kindal at the bottom of the pike pushup with her head and hands making a triangle. Her legs are locked and her body is fully engaged.
Kindal at the bottom of the pike pushup with another view so you can see the triangle. You can also really see her legs are fully locked out and engaged.

Pike pushups... while called pushups... are not traditional pushups. But, you can use many of the leaning modifications like box pushups to get better at them. I'll show you in a second.

Typically, I would break box pike pushups into it's own post... but there's only one modification using a box.

Step 1

Get in the top of a pushup plank.

Keep your legs straight and walk your feet closer and closer to your hands. You want your butt to to straight up to the sky.

The closer your feet are to your hands... the harder the pike pushup gets.

Finally, widen your stance so your feet are about 3 feet apart.

The wider your feet, the easier the pushup is.

Kindal showing how the feet apart gives a little bit of a break to your upper body and makes the pike pushup a little easier.
Kindal showing how when you put the feet together things get very tough but you can work to this level of pike pushups.

Step 2

Keep your legs locked. The majority of your weight should have shifted over your arms.

Lightly twist your hands into the ground so your arms are activated and not in a relaxed state.

While keeping your legs straight... start to lower down by bending your arms.

As you lower down... make sure your elbows are going back and not out to the side.

This is tough... but this is where you want to be.

form tip

This is an important form tip. When you're at the bottom of the pike pushup your head should barely touch the ground about 3 to 4 inches in-front of your hands.

If you were to freeze at the bottom of the pike pushup, your hands and your head should form a triangle.

This ensures you get your bodyweight over your arms. And this is what makes pike pushups so difficult.

The further you get your head away from your hands... the harder this gets. This would be when you want to begin elevating your feet. We'll talk about that in a different post.

Remember the triangle.

Step 3

At the bottom... keep your body really tight. This will make it easier to push back up. Make sure you read below for some modifications and drills to help you build the necessary strength.

As you push back up, you'll push up and back a little so you're weight moves slightly back on your feet.

It's almost as if when you go down... you rock forward. When you come back up... you rock back.

intensity tip

As you build strength with pike pushups, the weight distribution becomes key. Here is how I would ideally like to see it...

At the top of the pike pushup... about 60% (estimated) of your weight is over your hands.

As you lower to the bottom of the pushup... about 80% or more of your weight moves over your hands.

As you come back up out of the pushup... your weight goes back over your feet to that 60% range.

These are just estimations. The idea is as you go down... you load more weight over your upper body and less as you return to the top.

Key Pike Pushup Form Tips

The Triangle

Kindal showing the triangle of the pike pushup. You can clearly see her head is in front of her hands.
Kindal clearly showing how her head is in front of her hands. You can see how the majority of her body is over her arms.
Kindal is showing how the triangle fails to form when the head goes behind the hands.

Remember at the bottom of the pike pushup your head will shift in-front of your hands.

Your hands and your head create a triangle. Your head is about 4 to 6 inches in front of your hands. Your hands about about shoulder width to just outside of shoulder width.

Remember, you are going down moving forward over your hands.

Straight Legs

Notice Kindal's legs are clearly locked out and straight.
Kindal showing what it looks like when you bend your legs. You can clearly see how the body breaks down.

Keep your legs locked during the entire rep.

When you bend or let your legs soften... it becomes much easier for your bodyweight to fall back to your feet.

Plus you lose the muscle engagement making it harder for your body to gain the full recruitment it needs to complete this tough exercise.


The key tip is something I have not talked enough about. Breathing.

The idea breathing pattern is...

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    Breath in when you're going down (eccentric)

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    Breath out when you're coming up (concentric)

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    When you need to push hard... you can hold your breath (focused strength)

This makes a huge difference in your ability to complete tough reps. Try it and let me know how it works for you. BTW... this applies to all exercises from squats to burpees.

What Muscles Do Pike Pushups Work?

Pike pushups are ideal for building:

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    Anterior (front) delts (shoulders)

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    Lateral (side) delts

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    Core (stabilization)

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    Biceps and triceps

Pike Pushup Modifications and Drills

Box Pike Pushups

If you've read my Exercise Database post [about box pushups](/post) you know that you can use different sized boxes to make the push easier or harder.

You can use the same tactic with pike pushups.

Step 1

Get in a top of a box pushup position on the box size of your choosing.

The taller the box, the easier this will be. The shorter... the harder things will get.

Place your hands only a couple inches wider than a normal pushup.

Step 2

Walk your legs in until they are perpendicular with the ground. Your legs will be straight up and down from the ground.

Keep your legs straight and let your butt stay high.

Keep your spine straight as well.

Step 3

Lower into a pushup... but keep your elbows moving back/down towards the ground.

Get on your tippy toes because you want to push the majority of your weight over your arms. This takes focus on your part.

At the bottom of the pike pushup off the box... your head will be just above the top of the box edge.

Take a look at the images and this will make more sense.

Cannonball Press

This is a great press and it really hits the same muscles as a pike pushup.

You won't get a full range of motion as you will with a full pike pushups... but using the cannonball press you can build the necessary strength and strength endurance.

You need a dumbbell or a kettlebell. I prefer kettlebells as you probably know.

The steps below will use a kettlebell... but it's nearly identical for dumbbells.

Step 1

Flip the kettlebell in your hands so your holding it by the bell.

When you do this... the handle of the kettlebell is in-between your wrists. Take a look at the pictures.

Step 2

You're holding the kettlebell at chest level... or just above chest level (barely).

Using both arms you're going to lean back slightly and press the kettlebell over your head.

You will NOT go to a lock out position with your arms. Rather, you'll stop short. Get the kettlebell just above your head height.

Bring the kettlebell back down with control and keep on repeating.

The cannonball press is meant to repped out with speed.

It's great for burning the muscles out and building endurance.

Lu Raises

The final drill is an exercise called Lue Raises.

These are not just a drill... I use them in some 5 minute Fit Finisher workouts... plus in FWW LIVE workouts.

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    Workout 1

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    Workout 2

Lu Raises are great for shoulder range of motion and delt strength... just what we need for pike pushups.

Step 1

Grab two light weights. I would not go above 5 pounds. This is not a "go heavy" exercise.

Hold your dumbbells down in-front of your body with your palms facing your body.

Step 2

You're going to keep your arms straight for the entire exercise.

Rotate your arms out to the side. You're going to raise them above your head.

As you rotate your arms out and they get to about waist height... rotate your arms so your palms face forward.

Step 3

Keep rotating your arms out until they are above your head and fully extend them high in the sky. Reach high.

Your palms are not facing forward.

Bring your arms back down to your side. Keep them straight the entire time.

Lu Raises are a high rep exercise. You need to keep rocking out reps until your delts are burning like crazy. Then do more reps to overload the muscle.

Do You Want To Learn More And Get Better Results?

I hope you learned how to do pike pushups correctly with this post.

Now ask yourself...

How good would your results be if you worked out with a personal trainer?

If you had a trainer who designed all of your workouts for you?

If you had a personal trainer to help you learn exercises the right way and coaching you through LIVE workouts?

That would be pretty awesome.

Well this is what my small, private online workout group... Fit Women's Weekly LIVE... is all about.

A private program where I:

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    Train you personally when you need help

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    Workout with you and push you hard

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    Design all of your workouts for you

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    Help motivate you and keep you in the game

And while membership in this group is very limited... you can get a free 14 trial and come experience it.

Compare it to what you're using now or what you've tried in the past.

You'll see the difference for yourself.

And you can then make your own mind up.

If you have any questions about pike pushups... ask in the YouTube comments so we can all benefit from them.

Follow me on my social accounts so we can get to know each other better... and so we can get strong together!

Kindal squating and working her way through a tough metabolic strength workout

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