incline push up

Incline Push-Ups: Form, Benefits, and Variations

Incline push-ups are a versatile and effective bodyweight exercise that is a foundational exercise of training. Incline push-ups can be modified to your fitness level, whether you’re a beginner looking to develop strength or an experienced athlete looking for variety in your workout routine. This detailed article will go into great detail on incline push-ups, including the right techniques, the multiple benefits they offer, and several hard variations.

Understanding Incline Push-Ups

What Are Incline Push-Ups?

Incline push-ups are a variation of the classic push-up, designed to target the chest, shoulders, and triceps. They are performed with the upper body elevated on a surface like a bench, step, or sturdy platform. This elevated position shifts the focus of the exercise and provides a great entry point for those new to push-ups.

Muscle Groups Targeted

Incline push-ups provide an effective means of targeting the upper chest while also engaging the shoulders, triceps, and core to a degree.

  1. Chest (Pectoralis Major): While regular push-ups target overall chest muscles, Incline push-ups place significant focus on the upper chest muscles. This is why they are often recommended for individuals looking to develop and strengthen the upper part of their chest.
  2. Front Shoulders (Anterior Deltoids): The anterior deltoid muscles are engaged as you push your body away from the inclined surface. They assist in shoulder flexion during the exercise.
  3. Triceps Brachii: The triceps are actively involved in extending the elbows during the upward phase of the incline push-up.
  4. Serratus Anterior: This muscle helps stabilize the shoulder blades and is engaged to a certain extent during incline push-ups.
  5. Core Muscles: While not the primary focus, the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, are engaged to maintain a stable body position throughout the exercise.
a man doing pushup outdoor

Proper Form and Technique

The key to getting the most out of incline push-ups is how to do them correctly. In order to perform incline push-ups properly:

  1. Select the Right Surface: Choose a stable surface, such as a bench or step, to elevate your upper body. The height should match your fitness level.
  2. Hand Placement: Position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the elevated surface. Your fingers should point forward.
  3. Body Alignment: Ensure a straight line from your head to your heels, maintaining a tight core and neutral spine.
  4. Execution: Lower your chest toward the elevated surface in a controlled manner. Keep your elbows close to your body. Push through your palms to return to the starting position. Fully extend your elbows, but avoid locking them.
  5. Breathing: Inhale as you lower yourself and exhale as you push up. Maintain steady, controlled breathing throughout the exercise.

Benefits of Incline Push-Ups

Incline push-ups offer several advantages:

  1. Chest Development: They are particularly effective at targeting and strengthening the chest muscles, contributing to a well-defined upper body.
  2. Upper Body Strength: Incline push-ups build overall upper body strength, including the shoulders and triceps, promoting functional fitness.
  3. Joint-Friendly Option: For individuals with wrist or shoulder issues, incline push-ups can be a kinder alternative to traditional push-ups. The elevated hand position reduces stress on these joints while still providing a challenging workout.
  4. Versatility: These push-ups can be modified to suit beginners, intermediates, and advanced athletes alike.
  5. Progression: As your strength improves, you can increase the incline or add resistance to make the exercise more challenging.

Incline Push-Up vs. Regular Push-Up

Push-ups are a staple in bodyweight training, but there are variations to consider. Here’s a quick comparison between incline push-ups vs. regular push-ups:

Regular Push-Ups:

  • Engage multiple muscle groups.
  • Build functional upper body strength.
  • Suitable for various fitness levels.
  • Can be challenging for beginners.

Incline Push-Ups:

  • Target upper chest muscles.
  • Gentler on wrists and shoulders.
  • Good for beginners and those with joint issues.
  • Can work as the starting point for standard push-ups.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To maximize the benefits of incline push-ups, steer clear of these common errors:

  1. Lack of Proper Alignment: Maintain a straight line from head to heels; avoid sagging or arching your back.
  2. Incomplete Range of Motion: Perform full-range push-ups to engage the muscles fully.
  3. Neglecting Breathing: Consistent and controlled breathing is essential for performance and safety.

Incorporating Incline Push-Ups into Your Workout Routine

To include incline push-ups effectively in your fitness regimen:

  1. Warm-Up: Use incline push-ups as part of your warm-up routine to activate the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  2. Workout Structure: Incorporate incline push-ups into a balanced upper-body or full-body workout routine.
  3. Frequency and Progression: Gradually increase the intensity by lowering the incline or incorporating resistance, increase reps and sets, and monitor your progress.


Push-ups on an angle are a helpful exercise to add to your fitness routine. They offer a range of advantages, are adaptable to different fitness levels, and allow for progression. You can use incline push-ups to efficiently build upper body strength, improve muscular definition, and reach your fitness goals by mastering the appropriate form and experimenting with different variations. These push-ups provide an enjoyable challenge for your workouts no matter your level of experience as an athlete.

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