How to Do Incline Pushups

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A pushup done with your hands on an elevated surface puts more emphasis on the sternal portion of the pectoral muscles, or upper chest, and the fronts of the shoulders, or anterior deltoids, than a regular pushup. You still get all the other positive strength-building aspects of the regular pushup too, including greater triceps and core strength. Perform incline pushups anywhere -- the gym using a workout bench, the rec center using an aerobic step, the park using a bench or at home using the edge of a kitchen counter or sofa.

  • Warm up your whole body before doing pushups to increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce risk of injury. Spend three to five minutes marching in place or performing jumping jacks, and then another two to three minutes doing dynamic stretches such as arm circles, forward bends and lunges.

  • Stand facing a solid, elevated surface. Place your hands completely on the surface, slightly wider than your shoulders. Step your feet back so you form a long line from your head to your toes. Do not let the hips hike upward or sag downward. For a version that targets the triceps more intensely, place your hands shoulder distance apart or slightly narrower for close-grip incline pushups.

  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the elevated surface. Keep the torso rigid throughout the exercise. If you're doing the close-grip variation, keep your elbows close to your ribs as you press down and up.

  • Perform one to three sets of the move as part of your upper body workout. Each set should consist of between 10 and 12 repetitions, which will help you build general strength. If you're proficient at pushups, work up to as many as 100 incline pushups in one session to help you build muscular endurance. Only do as many as you can using good form.

Tips & Warnings

  • To increase the difficulty of the exercise, use a box or bench that's closer to the floor. For a less-intense version, choose a higher elevated surface.
  • Variations of the incline pushup may also be performed with the hands on a stability ball or a horizontal bar.
  • If you have joint issues in your shoulders, elbows or wrists, consult your physician to make sure the incline pushup is right for you.

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  • Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images
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