The Jackknife aka Pike Push Up

This exercise is commonly referred by two different names. The Jackknife or Pike Push-Up.

In this article, we will cover how you are to perform the Jackknife Push Up, the muscle groups that it works, the benefits to doing them and the equipment required.

Not able to do a jackknife push up yet? Not A Problem!

We are also including a guide how to use different push-up types to help you gain enough strength to do them. Look for it at the end of this article.

This exercise is rated early intermediate in difficulty. Before using this push-up variation ensure you can complete incline pushups.

Jackknife Push Ups are a functional exercise. This means that it replicates a movement pattern that is commonly used in everyday life (overhead pressing).

Mastering the Jackknife push up will help you to progress to handstand pushups.

Using this exercise will also help you to create stronger shoulders.

We will cover 2 different variations of this exercise. The first variation will have you keep your hands and feet on the floor. The second variation will have your feet elevated on a bench or chair.

Where your hips are raised will determine the weight load placed on your shoulders. The higher you can lift your hips the more weight that will be put on your shoulders.

Conversely, lowering your hips will decrease the load on your shoulders. Your chest muscles get more involved as your hips go lower.

Jackknife Push Up Image How To

woman showing how to perform the Jackknife Push-Up

Jackknife Push Up Written How To

Version 1: Feet on The Ground

  • Move into the pushup position on the floor. Keep your arms straight with your hand's shoulder width apart. Keep you head between your arms at all times.
  • Lift your hips and move your legs closer, so your body perform the shape of an upside down V. Your legs and arms are to be as straight as possible.
  • Inhale, as you bend at the elbows lowering your body until the top of the head, is nearly touching the floor and pause.
  • Exhale and use your arms push your body back up until your arms are straight again.

Jackknife Push-Up Video How to

Before moving to the decline bench variation, you can use the one leg version.

Before you lower your head towards the floor, lift one of your legs. Perform the movement as outlined above with your one leg raised.

Complete the desired number of repetitions then switch the raised leg and repeat the exercise.

When you master the decline bench version (outlined below), you can again use the one-foot technique to increase the difficulty.

Jackknife Push Up Version 2: Image How To

how to perform the incline Jackknife Push-Up

Version 2: Feet on a Bench

  • Again move into the pushup position but this time have your toes elevated on a seat or bench.
  • Keep your arms straight with your hand's shoulder width apart. Again make sure to keep your head between your arms throughout the movement.
  • Lift your hips and move your arms closer to your feet to help elevate your hips. The goal is to form as close to a 90-degree bend at your hips as you can.
  • Inhale, as you bend at the elbows lowering your body until the top of the head, is nearly touching the floor and pause.
  • Exhale and use your arms push your body back up until your arms are straight again.

As you progress on this exercise, focus on having your body create a 90-degree angle at the hips. This will help to put the maximal load on your shoulders. It will also help you to perfect your balance in an upside down position.

The video below demonstrates this technique.

Jackknife Push-Up Variation Video How to

Muscles Used

  • Primary Muscles

  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Secondary Muscles

  • Chest
  • Forearms
  • Traps
  • Serratus Anterior

Progression Guide to Jackknife Push-Ups

The first step is being able to do the regular push up. You should be able to complete at least 15 repetitions. If you cannot do regular pushups yet, use the kneeling variation.

For the kneeling version instead of having just your toes to stabilize your body, you will place your knees on the ground as well. Practice until you can complete 15 repetitions. Then move to regular push-ups.

The next push-up variation that you will use is inclined pushups. You will place your toes on a bench or chair instead of the floor.

Incline push-ups will help increase the strength in your shoulders which you will need for the Jackknife Push Up. Incline push ups will also contribute to helping you learn to stabilize your body in an inclined position.

Once you can do the incline pushup for 15 repetitions, you will be able to start using the Jackknife variation where your feet stay on the floor.

Start with a smaller arch at you waste (larger distance between your hands and feet). As you get better at the exercise, bring your feet closer to your hands (this will place your hips higher).

Remember to use a slow controlled movement pattern when performing push-ups. This will help to stimulate more of your muscle fibers.

Well, That's it for this post. If you found the information helpful or feel there is something missing leave a comment and let me know.

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