What Are Decline Push-Ups?

Decline push-up is progression to the basic push-up where you will place your feet higher than your hands on an elevated surface. This will put your body at a steeper angle which will increase the difficulty as more your weight will be distributed to the upper body. Decline push-ups are great for the upper chest and front shoulders workouts. 

 

The intensity can be modified by changing the height of the elevated platform, which could be a bench, chair, or plyometric box. The rule is that: the higher the platform, the harder the push-up will be. 

 

According to research in a longitudinal cohort study of 1104 occupationally active participants: those who can complete more than 40 push-ups were associated with a significant decrease in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease compared with those who can do fewer than 10 push-ups.

What Muscles are Worked by Decline Push-Ups?

Decline push-ups actives more on the upper chest and front shoulders. The primary muscles worked are the pectoralis major, triceps, and anterior deltoids. The secondary muscles worked are the serratus anterior, abdominals, obliques, quadriceps, and glutes.

What Level are Decline Push-Ups?

This exercise is for the intermediate level and above as the difficulty is significantly higher by placing your feet higher than your hands on an elevated surface. The downward angle of a decline push-up forces you to lift more of your body weight. Once you’ve masted the basic push-up, give decline push-ups a try!

How to do Decline Push-Ups

It is highly recommended that you begin with a lower platform as it will place less load on your upper body, which will make decline push-ups it easier to perform. Once you have mastered the lower platform, you can move onto a higher platform to increase the intensity.

1. Begin On All Fours

Start on all fours with your hands on the ground at a shoulder-width position. Shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists and fingers are pointed forward. Carefully place your feet onto an elevated surface, one step at a time. Realign your body and engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. Your arms are fully locked out and your body should now be at a downward slope. This is your starting position

2. Gradually Lower Down

Inhale as you gradually lower your chest down towards the ground. Keep your elbows close to the body rather than flaring out. Ensure that your body is straight, without sagging or arching the hips. Lower down until your triceps are parallel to the ground.

 

3. Gradually Push Up

Exhale as you push back up to the starting position. Your elbows are locked out and your body remains rigid. This will ensure a full range of motion.

4.Repeat

Repeat this movement for a desired number of repetitions (see the recommended reps and sets ranges below). Once you have mastered the low platform, you can move onto a higher platform to increase the intensity.

Decline Push-Ups Workout 

  • Beginners should perform between 3-5 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Intermediate level athletes should perform between 6-17 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Advanced level athletes should perform 18+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.

What are the Benefits of Decline Push-Ups?

Build Strong Upper Chest 

Decline push-ups put your body at a downward slope which places more weight on the upper chest and front deltoids. It will not only increase your upper body strength but will also improve your physique. This will have you looking pumped up and in good enough shape to hit the beach this summer!

Protect Your Shoulders

The rotator cuff is a muscle that allows your joints and tendons to function. The stronger your shoulders, the better they are at preventing injuries. Decline push-ups will develop the stabilizer muscles that surround your rotator cuffs, which may help shield you from rotator cuff injuries.

Develop Your Core

Walking down the beach to show off those sets of washboard abs is any fitness junkie’s dream. If you’d like this see this as a reality, you’d need to do a solid amount of push-ups to securing that amazing core you’ve always wished for. With proper form, your core will be actively engaged to keep your body rigid. Combining this with cardio and a good diet will have your abs popping.

Decline Push-Ups Variations

Upper Chest Push-Ups

Forward Grip Push-Ups

This is a great exercise to develop the upper chest. It is a tweak to the regular push-ups where you will place your palms further forward (around 45 degrees angle) rather than it being stacked directly underneath your shoulders. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in plank position where your hands are at shoulder-width and are placed further in front at around 45 degrees. Engage your core and glutes to ensure a straight line along your body. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you dive your body forward to lower your chest towards the ground. Keep your core engaged.
  3. Exhale as you push through the heel of your hands to return back to the starting position. Squeeze your chest at the top position, and lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion.
  4. Repeat this movement between 4-16 reps for 4 sets.

 

Pike Push-Ups

Pike push-up is an excellent variation that puts emphasis on the shoulders, triceps, and upper chest. This variation will require you to lower your head from a yoga downward dog position, then pushing back up. This is an intermediate-level exercise. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin on all fours with your hands at the shoulder-width position, and arms fully locked out. Walk your feet forward to form an inverted V shape or a downward dog pose. Keep your core tight, back flat, and engage your glutes and hamstrings. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you lower your head until your head touches the ground. Keep your core tight and body rigid.
  3. Exhale as your push back up to the starting position. Lock your arms out to ensure a full range of motion.
  4. Repeat this movement between 3-10 reps for 4 sets.

 

Push-Ups For Lower Chest

Psuedo Push-Ups

Psuedo push-up is progression to the standard push-up. The position of your hands will be as close to the hips as possible, which puts a larger load on your shoulders, biceps, and core, causing them to work harder. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a plank position with your hands posited as close to the hips as possible at shoulder-width. Your shoulders will be in front of your hands, and your hands are rotated outwards at 45 degrees. Keep tension on your core, glutes, and quadriceps. Your shoulders are depressed and scapulars are protracted. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as your bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor. Lower until your triceps are parallel to the floor. Keep tension in your core and legs to maintain a straight line.
  3. Exhale as you return back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this movement between 3-10 reps for 4 sets.

Explosive Incline Push-Ups

This variation is a plyometric exercise that works on the lower chest. You will place your hands on an elevated surface and include a jumping element during the push-up phase to increase power and explosiveness. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a plank position with your hands placed on an elevated surface such as a chair, or a plyometric box. Engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as your lower your body towards the ground until your chest almost touches the platform.
  3. Exhale as you explosively push back up so that your hands leave the floor. 
  4. Land lightly on the platform and immediately resume the next rep. Repeat this movement between 5- 14 reps for 4 sets.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.