Kneeling Push Ups

The long-standing attitude that knee push-ups provide no real benefit for building upper body strength is unfounded. Kneeling pushups are an important movement for beginners, because they are the easiest type of pushup that can be performed prone, i.e., flat on the floor. Because of this, they form an important link between the first two steps (Wall Push Ups and Incline Push Ups), which are performed standing, and the harder prone techniques later in the series. Women often do kneeling pushups because they lack the relative upper body strength to perform the full pushup, but this exercise offers great benefits to guys as well. It’s a good starting exercise for somebody who’s maybe overweight or out of shape, and because you can pump up the upper body with relative ease in this position, kneeling pushups make an excellent warm up exercise you can do before attempting harder forms of pushup.

Benefits of Kneeling Push Ups

Knee push-ups are a valuable alternative to toe push-ups in order to give your chest, shoulders and arms a quality workout, at the same time strengthening the muscles of the core. Kneeling push ups develop strength in the pectoralis major and triceps muscle. The Serratus Anterior is also active to stabilize and protract the scapular during the movement. A program containing push ups should be performed with opposing movements like bent over rows or reverse flys to balance the muscle development in the deltoids and around the scapula. Kneeling Push ups are beneficial for heavier individuals or those starting out an exercise program. Generally men have stronger chest muscles resulting in the standing push up being called the mens push up and the kneeling being called the womens. There is no reason though that either sex should be confined to either type of push up.

How to Do Kneeling Push Ups

Kneel on the floor with your feet together, and your palms flat on the ground in front of you. The arms should be straight, shoulder width apart, and in line with your chest. Link one ankle around the other, and keep the hips straight and in alignment with the trunk and head. This is the start position. Using the knees as a pivot, bend at the shoulders and elbows until your chest is approximately one fist’s width from the floor. Pause and press back to the start position, then repeat.

  1. Get on your knees and place your hands on the floor in line with your shoulders, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Contracting your core, straighten your legs to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your elbows close to the sides of your torso, bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  3. Pause, then push yourself to the starting position.

Your head and shoulders should move forwards of your hands as you get closer to the floor. Use your full range of motion to lower your chest in between your hands, as close to the floor as you can, then push your hands into the floor, keeping you body tensed, to move it up away from the floor back to the start position. Watch out for elbows flaring out to the sides away from your ribs. They should always point back towards your knees. Another common mistake is to lower down without moving your head and shoulders forward of your hands. These mistakes can lead to injury so focus on quality of movement rather than quantity. If you can’t maintain quality in this movement, try some of the easier versions of this exercise to build up strength and technique first.

Training Goals

  • Beginner: 1 set of 10 rep.
  • Intermediate: 2 sets of 15.
  • Advanced: 3 sets of 30.

Kneeling Push Ups for Beginners

If you find it impossible to perform full kneeling pushups, lessen your range of motion. Don’t go all the way down to a fist width from the ground. Use a higher number of reps (about twenty) over a shorter range of motion you can perform comfortably, then workout by workout (keeping the reps high) gradually keep adding an inch of depth until the full movement is mastered. Use wall push-ups as a way to build up strength in your chest and triceps before performing them on the floor. With wall push-ups you can vary the difficulty by stepping further way from the wall, so that you are leaning farther forwards.

Kneeling Push Ups for Advanced

Once you can perform 10 to 15 reps of Push-ups on Knees with good form, try lifting your knees up off the floor for the lowering phase of the movement. Then put them back down again to push back up to the top. This half half method is a good way to work up to the full push-up. You can try Single Arm Knee Push-Ups also.

Understanding Your Fitness Level

Avoid performing any exercise to the point of failure. Pushing outside your comfort zone can result in stress-related injuries, such as a torn rotator cuff in your shoulder. If you’re just starting a new exercise routine, alternative push-ups are your stepping stone to your fitness goals. Along with knee push-ups, those performed while leaning against a wall or countertop can further reduce the stress placed on your shoulders, arms and back. Alternative exercises like this still build strength over time.