I have to say the Pike Push-Up is one of my favorite bodyweight training exercises! Not only is it great for building rock hard shoulders, but itâ€™s going to be your â€œgo toâ€ exercise while working your way up to the Handstand Push-Up.
Make sure to check out the video tutorial below for step-by-step instructions for executing the perfect Pike Push-Up!:
The Vertical Pressing Pattern
In the GBT System, we have â€œessential movement patternsâ€ that all of our workouts are based around. One of them is the Vertical Pressing Pattern. In the typical gym, a vertical press would be like a military press or variations of pushing some sort of resistance (barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell) over head. But since we choose to use our own bodyweight as resistance instead, we have to learn to get inverted and press our body up and away from the floor.
Progressing to the Handstand Push-Up
If youâ€™re not ready yet to do a full Handstand Push-Up, then the Pike Push-Up is the perfect exercise to develop the necessary strength, endurance, and stability as you progress. If you have a lot of mass or are still working on loosing a few pounds, this is a great way to work the pattern while only taking a percentage of your BW. As you get stronger and/or lose weight, you can begin to elevate the feet (which is a progression we will focus on in a later video).
If you happen to practice Yoga and have decent flexibility in your extensor chain (especially spinal extensors, glutes, hamstrings and calves) then the starting position should be very easy for you since it resembles a Downward Dog. Go ahead and keep your heels on the ground if you can still keep the knees straight and hips high above the shoulders. It is also still acceptable to come up on the toes and balls of your feet. The body should resemble a Capital â€œAâ€ from the side.
There are a few muscles that may keep your form from being perfect in the Pike Push-Up and may need some specific attention before starting this exercise:
For the upper body, itâ€™s essential to keep the head between the arms which can be difficult if you have tight lats. If you arenâ€™t able to keep the arms directly over head then the exercise turns into less of a vertical press and more into a push up with emphasis on the upper fibers of the chest. If this is the case, I recommend stretching the lats before getting into position. Another great tip is to start with a couple of static handstands against the wall. This serves as a â€œfunctionalâ€ stretch of the lats, and since itâ€™s a load bearing movement, youâ€™ll also be preparing the shoulder stabilizers for the work to come.
Back and Knees:
The lower erectors of the spine, the glutes and the hamstrings may also be limiting muscles so be sure to stretch them if you notice you are having a hard time keeping the back straight or the knees extended. Remember, the key is to keep the hips as high above the shoulders, with straight knees and a flat back. The Gastrocnemius is a calf muscle that crosses both the ankle and the knee so donâ€™t forget to spend a little time stretching it as well if youâ€™re having difficulty keeping the knees straight.
Add It to Your Routine
Now that you know the specifics on the Pike Push-Up, go ahead and add it into your workouts. Like I said before, I also recommend adding in some static handstands against the wall. Try holding them for 30 seconds and working your way up to two minutes. This will not only help your Pike Push-Up but will be very valuable for you as you progress towards the Handstand Push-Up. Now go have fun!
- For another Vertical Pressing Pattern exercise that uses only bodyweight, check out my article/video here on the Horizontal Squat With Press. This is a real fun one!