Incline VS Decline Push Ups: What's The Difference

Which one is more efficient and why?

March 25, 2016
Incline VS Decline Push Ups: What's The Difference

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If you want to build bigger chest and arms it's important to do more than just regular Push Ups.

variations of Push Ups give you better results

Elevating your hands or your feet on a higher surface during Push Ups produces different results. How?

Find out about muscle activation and get tips for doing Incline and Decline Push Ups.

What is the difference between Incline and Decline Push Up variations?

Is one more efficient than the other? Check out the video summary or scroll down for important facts!

Muscle Activation

Both variations use your chest, triceps, shoulders and back muscles. However, because of the angle, the Incline Push Up works your lower chest and back more. On the other hand The Decline Push Up works the upper chest and front shoulders (delts) more than the regular or incline variation. If you want to hit shoulders, check out other shoulder exercises here.


With a regular Push Up you lift about 70% off your own bodyweight. When you place your feet high as in Decline Push Ups, you actually push up even more of your own weight, which makes the Decline variation more efficient, and harder, than Incline. And of course, the higher you place your feet, the harder it will be.

Should you do both?

Why not? Use both to target different parts of your chest. Since the Incline Push Up will be easier, you will need to do more reps. Vary your Push Ups to break plateaus and have more fun. For a ready Push Up workout check out the most popular Madbarz routine.

Madbarz Premium offers you a possibility of creating an unlimited number of customized workouts using various varieties of both incline and decline push ups. Check out workout plans available in Madbarz Premium that already have these exercises incorporated!

About Decline Push Up

Starting position: Push up position. Feet resting on a stable elevated surface (bench, box...), hands on the ground.

The higher you place your feet, the harder it will be. Stabilising muscles in your shoulders have a lot work to do. Actually, doing Decline Push Ups on a stable surface requires more stabilisation in the shoulder are than doing Inclines on an unstable surface, says research.[1]

Want to make it even harder? Try lifting one leg off the surface while you perform Decline Push Ups. And don't forget to switch legs ;)

About Incline Push Up

Starting position: Push up position with hands placed shoulder width on an elevated surface. Feet on the ground.

The higher you hands are, the easier it is to perform the Incline Push Up. For example, placing your hands against a wall and pushing yourself away is the easiest variation of a Push Up. Inclines are great for beginners, but advanced athletes use them to target lower chest, too.

Want to make it even harder? Place your hands on two parallel surfaces with a hole in-between (such as parallel bars), so that you can lower your upper body even further than your hands.

Form info for all variations

Before doing the Push Up, squeeze core and glutes to create a straight line from head to heel. Bend elbows to lower yourself down slowly, until chest is just above the surface. Keep elbows close to body during movement, don't let them flare out. Inhale as you go down, exhale as you go up.

What about other variations ? Find out more about Wide VS Narrow Push Ups!

Takeaway: With Decline Push Ups your muscles work harder, but the Incline Push Ups will give you a chance to target your lower chest better. Embrace all Push Up variations! Here's why Push Ups are so good..

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Post a comment

  • nhatnguyen 109 workouts (level 16)
    what are pseudo push up? May 10, 2016
  • peteraw 524 workouts (level 69)
    please, make one hand pushups, asap April 05, 2016
  • ebbe247 507 workouts (level 100)
    I like doing both. Essential exercises. Thx @Madbarz April 04, 2016
  • brawl 298 workouts (level 68)
    Amazing. I start this year with your app and I'm very happy of it. I hope we will have more exercices and workouts soon. =) March 29, 2016

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