Just because you do not have access to weights does not mean your shoulders development has to suffer.

Unlike the traditional version of the pushup, the push back push up variation is going to focus on your shoulders primarily, and your chest is going to be one of the secondary muscle involved.

Since this is a calisthenic exercise, it is a useful way to add some shoulder training for people who exercise at home or on days when you cannot make it to your local gym. As an added benefit using this exercise can also give your core a decent workout at the same time.

How to Guide

Video Demonstration

Image Example

how to do the push back push-up https://get-strong.fit/The-Push-Back-Push-Up-Exercise-Guide/Exercises

Step by Step Description

Step 1: Lie face down on the floor keeping your body straight. Put the palms of your hands face down on the floor. Have your fingers pointing straight ahead. You are going to use a slightly wider than shoulder width positioning (your hands should be on the outsides of your shoulders). Press your hands into the floor, extend at the elbows(remember your arms should be at a 45-degree angle) and raise your body up to the top of the push-up position.

45 degree angel in arms for push-ups https://get-strong.fit/The-Push-Back-Push-Up-Exercise-Guide/Exercises

You are now in the starting position.

Step 2: Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides. Bend at your elbows and lower your chest towards the ground. Again have your arms form a 45-degree angle with your body. Keep dropping your body until your chest is almost touching the floor.

Step 3: Instead of pushing your body straight up we are going to push our body back as we bend at our knees.

Step 4: Extend your knees and bring your body forwards returning to the top of the push-up position.

You have now completed one repetition. Repeat for your selected number of reps and sets.

Difficulty Level

The Push Back Push-Up gets rated at an Intermediate difficulty level.

You should be able to perform at least five reps on the traditional push-up before attempting to include this variation into your training program.

To make the exercise even more difficult place your feet on a weighted bench. Doing this will increase the amount of your body weight you are lifting. It also has the added benefit of increasing the amount of work placed on to your core.

Equipment Required

Since this is a calisthenics exercise, you only need your body to be able to perform the lift.

A useful piece of equipment to have for this exercise is a weighted vest. Weighted clothing will allow you to continue making strength gains. Every time you can perform your set number of reps you should include more weight to the vest the next time you do this exercise also commonly referred to as Progressive Overload.

Muscles Worked

Unlike the traditional Push-Up, the Primary muscle that gets worked is your Deltoids(your Shoulders).

The Secondary muscles involved with his lift are your Chest, Triceps, Abdominals, and the Middle Back.


Using compound exercise like this lift are an incredibly efficient way to help you build more muscle while burning a high number of calories.

Performing strength training exercises sets your metabolism to burn more calories after you have completed the workout(commonly referred to as Afterburn).

You get to strengthen your shoulders while also working on your core. When an exercise is using multiple muscle groups at once, it allows you to keep your routines shorter while still keeping them highly efficient.

The movement in your arms follows your arms natural arching movement.

Training Tips

The closer together your feet are to one another the more your core gets recruited to help maintain your balance(the further your feet are away from one another more stability they provide). To further increase core activation have your feet elevated on a weighted bench and your feet placed together.

Your arms should form a 90-degree angle or less with your body. Do Not have your arms flared out at 90-degrees. Putting your body in this position places significant stress on your shoulder joint and increases your chance of getting an injury.

Just like traditional push-ups do not let your hips sag. Also when you are pushing back make sure there is no rounding of your lower back.

Focus on using a slow and controlled movement to get the most out of this lift.

Over time if you want an even more challenging calisthenics shoulder exercise then check out the Jackknife-Push-Up. Alternatively, if you are looking to use some weights with the similar arching motion, the kneeling Landmine exercise might be more to your liking.

If you have a history of shoulder problems, then make sure to get cleared by a physician before attempting to include this exercise in your routine.

In Closing

If you are looking for a new exercise to focus on your shoulders, then Push Back Push-Up is what you need to include in your training routine.

Since this is a calisthenics exercise, you only need your body and an area large enough for you to lay down.

When first trying the exercise I found it awkward to get my form correct. Make sure that you take your time and work on perfecting your form. If you do not have a workout buddy try to use your phone or bring in a camera so you can record yourself doing the exercise, between each set try to find and fix any issues you notice.

Similar Exercises

Jackknife Push-Up
Shoulder Tap Push-Up
Side to Side Push-Ups
Typewriter Push-Up

Looking to gain more strength or lose some weight? We offer free fitness tools to help you reach your fitness goals. Register for free while we are in beta and get free lifetime access to our fitness tools that include an easy to use Calorie Counter, High-Intensity Interval Timer, Multiple Fitness Calculators and our Exercise Logger.