Wall Pushup Variations for a strong chest, shoulders, and back
Push-ups are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises you can incorporate into your exercise program.
They work your arms, chest, back, and shoulders and require a fair amount of strength to perform multiple repetitions correctly.
If you have difficulty performing regular push-ups on the floor, wall push-ups are an excellent place to start. Using a wall removes some of the load off you and allows you to strengthen your muscles, perfect your form and prepare you for regular push-ups.
In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of wall push-ups, which muscles they work, how to perform them safely, and which variations you can try.
How to perform a wall push-up step by step:
- Stand with your feet under your hips, an arm’s length away from a wall.
- Place both palms against the wall with your wrists in line with your shoulders and fingers facing the ceiling.
- Screw your pinky fingers into the wall to activate the lats and tighten your core (you are preparing for an abdominal punch).
- Then pull the quad muscles and tighten the butt cheeks as if you were suppressing a fart.
- Holding this tight AF position, inhale and bend your elbows straight back until your forehead or nose almost touches the wall.
- Exhale as you push the wall away and return to the starting position.
This is 1 repetition.
Tense your core all the time.
If you feel your hips or buttocks rubbing against the wall, you do it wrong. We are supposed to tighten our muscles here, not bump the wall!
“Sagging, sloppy-looking hips indicate that your core is not tightened properly,” says Grayson Wickham, physical therapist and founder of Movement Vault, a digital movement education platform.
Do you not know how? Support yourself better by tightening your midline.
Follow these tips for strengthening your midsection:
- Tighten your abdomen as if you are about to get punched in the stomach.
Imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine.
- Stretch your midsection to the side.
- Pretend you are about to slip into a pair of really (really) tight jeans.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together
Keeping your upper back too loose is a recipe for shoulder disaster.
Instead, practice pushing your shoulder blades slightly back and down, as if you were holding a can between your shoulder blades, says CJ Hammond, XPS-certified personal trainer at RSP Nutrition.
Go all the way down
“To really get the benefits of the wall push-up, you need to go through the entire range of motion,” Wickham says. “If you only do partial reps, you risk injury later.
Continue lowering until your forehead or nose almost touches the wall. If you do not have the strength to lower yourself in a controlled manner, take a step toward the wall, so you have less distance to cover.
On the way back to the starting position, push the wall away until your arms are completely straight.
Maintain a neutral neck
Sorry my friend, but while completing these exercises, do not look at the person next to you or admire your new shoes.
Once you are in the high plank position against the wall, you should look straight ahead to keep your neck in a neutral position.
If you do not, you run the risk of herniated disks, neck injury, and pinched nerves, according to Wickham.
Breathing not only keeps you alive, but it can also help you manage this movement.
“Breathe in as you lower yourself and breathe out as you push through the floor to return to the starting point – it adds momentum,” Wickham says.
Benefits of wall push-ups
Wall push-ups are an excellent option for beginners who can not do regular push-ups yet. By pushing yourself against the wall, some of the stress caused by gravity is reduced, making the exercise easier to perform.
However, that does not mean you will not benefit from wall push-ups. In fact, they are a great way to train your body to perform push-ups correctly, as they are a similar movement and use the same muscle groups.
Over time, this can prepare you to perform regular push-ups with proper form. As long as you do not have any ailments, such as shoulder problems, you can even start doing wall pushups to improve your condition because you can slow down and focus on perfecting your form.
This will allow you to make the proper mind-body connection and recruit the right muscles for the task.
In addition, wall push-ups can be helpful for people with mild wrist pain, as they put less stress on the wrists. This exercise may also be better for lower back or elbow pain people.
Whether you do a regular push-up or a wall push-up, you will benefit from strengthening your upper body and improving your posture, translating into better function in daily life.
Wall push-ups are a good starting point for beginners or people who have difficulty performing regular push-ups on the floor. They will help you learn proper form while reducing stress on your joints.
Muscles used in wall push-ups
Wall push-ups are a full-body workout. Even though you may think of them primarily as an upper-body exercise, many muscles in the body are used to stabilize the push-up position and movement.
The main muscles that are used in a wall push-up include.
- the chest muscles (e.g., the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor)
- the serratus anterior
- the triceps
- the deltoids
- the upper and lower back muscles (e.g., the trapezius and rhomboids, as well as the spinal stabilizers)
- the core muscles (e.g., the transversus abdominis, multifidus, obliques, and rectus abdominis)
To some degree, this exercise also uses your lower body muscles, such as glutes, quads, and calves, for stability. These muscles are used to improve your postural strength, balance, and upper body flexibility.
As mobilizers, wall push-ups target the upper body muscles, such as the chest, arms, and shoulders. Other muscles in the bodywork stabilize the position.
Are wall push-ups easier?
Compared to a standard push-up, wall push-ups are considered more accessible because some load is reduced due to gravity. For example, in a standard push-up, the pectoralis major and serratus anterior muscles are activated more.
However, that does not mean you can not get a great workout with wall push-ups.
Wall push-ups can be a great way to learn how to perform a standard push-up correctly. Plus, you’ll be using many of the same muscles, and you’ll be able to do more reps before your muscles fatigue.
They are also great for reducing pressure on the wrists and shoulders, as regular push-ups put a tremendous amount of pressure on the wrists while they are extended. This can lead to pain, especially for people with weak wrists.
In addition, performing a standard push-up with improper form can lead to improper muscle tension and injury. Therefore, it is better to modify an exercise to ensure that you complete it safely and effectively.
Wall push-ups are easy to adapt as you get stronger. The closer your feet are to the wall, the easier they are. The farther your feet are from the wall, the more difficult they become.
Although wall push-ups are more accessible than regular push-ups on the floor, they still work your upper body muscles and can be a challenging workout for beginners.
How to do a wall pushup
To perform a wall push-up, you only need a wall.
- Stand about an arm’s length away from the wall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Place both palms against the wall at about shoulder height and shoulder-width apart, with your fingers facing the ceiling. If you feel stretching too far, move your feet closer to the wall.
- Slowly bend your elbows and begin to lean your body toward the wall until your nose almost touches the wall. Keep your back straight and bend your elbows at an angle of about 45 degrees (instead of straight out to the side).
- Slowly press back to the starting position.
When performing the wall push-up, make sure your spine is neutral, and your hips do not tilt forward. Imagine a straight line running from your head through your back to your feet.
Focus on slow, controlled movements rather than rushing. This will help you find the correct form for the most effective workout.
You can make this exercise easier or more challenging by changing the distance between your feet and the wall. The farther your feet are from the wall, the more you will have to support your body weight, and the more complex the movement will be.
When doing the wall push-up, make sure you use proper form and a slow, controlled movement.
How to perform push-ups on the wall with perfect form
For wall push-ups, start with 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. Choose the number of sets and repetitions based on your ability to maintain proper technique.
- Start by standing an arm’s length away from a wall.
Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height, slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Take a step backward with both feet. Your legs should be straight. Shift your weight onto the balls of your feet.
- Rotate your shoulders outward to tighten your lats.
- Tighten your quads and glutes and tighten your core. All reps should start from this position.
- Lower your chest toward the wall by bending your elbows. Your shoulder blades should pull back as you move.
- Lower your body until your upper arms are level with your back.
- Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement.
While maintaining your alignment, initiate the upward movement by compressing your chest and extending your elbows.
Your shoulder blades should contract as you press toward the top of the movement.
Finish the repetition by tightening your chest and triceps.
Variations on the wall pushup
If you’d like to increase the difficulty of your wall push-up, here are some significant variations you can try
Wall push-up with closed hands
Instead of placing your palms far inward in this variation, place them toward the center of your body. This will work your triceps and pecs more, and the exercise is more challenging than traditional wall push-ups.
Assume the starting position by standing with your feet and legs together about an arm’s length from the wall, and your arms extended straight out in front of you. Your palms should be at about shoulder height against the wall, but this time almost touching, with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling.
Bend your elbows and begin to tilt your body toward the wall until your nose is almost touching the wall. Make sure your back stays straight, and your hips do not sag.
Press back to the starting position and repeat the exercise.
One-arm wall push-up
Consider a one-arm push-up progression if you can perform multiple reps and sets of a standard wall push-up. This is a unilateral movement, meaning you are only training one side of your body at a time. This can help compensate for imbalances in strength, and it’s a good challenge for your core.
Assume the starting position and stand with your legs and feet apart about an arm’s length from the wall. One arm should be extended straight out in front of you, with your palm against the wall, at about shoulder height and in line with the center of your body.
Place the other arm behind you across your lower back.
Bend your elbow and begin to lean your body toward the wall as far as you can. Make sure your back stays straight, and your hips do not sag. Try to distribute your body weight evenly instead of leaning to one side.
Push yourself back to the starting position.
Switch arms and repeat.
If you find it challenging to perform the same number of repetitions with each arm, this may be a sign of muscular imbalance, meaning one side of your body is stronger than the other. With a bit of practice, you can strengthen your weaker side.
One-legged wall push-up
In this variation, you will need to compensate for the lack of stability from standing on one foot with your core. This exercise is considered advanced and should not be tried until you are comfortable with a regular wall push-up.
Assume the starting position by standing an arm’s length away from the wall with your feet hip-width apart.
Place both palms against the wall at about shoulder height and shoulder-width apart, with your fingers facing the ceiling. If you feel stretching too far, move your feet closer to the wall.
- Lift one leg off the floor behind you.
- Slowly bend your elbows and begin to lean your body toward the wall until your nose almost touches the wall. Keep your back straight and bend your elbows at an angle of about 45 degrees (instead of straight to the side).
- Slowly press back to the starting position.
Push-up with feet against the wall
This is an advanced exercise that requires strength and balance. Try this only if you are an advanced exerciser and can efficiently perform a standard push-up.
- Start in a plank position on the floor with your feet touching the wall.
- Walk your feet up the wall until you reach a comfortable height. This height can be parallel to the floor or above your size on a slope. The latter is more challenging. This is your starting position.
- Bend your elbows and do a push-up. Make sure your back stays straight, and your hips do not sag.
- Push yourself back up to the starting position.
Do as many repetitions as possible.
How to exercise safely and avoid injury
Proper exercise technique is essential to the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program. Still, you may need to modify each exercise to achieve optimal results depending on your individual needs.
Always choose a weight that gives you complete control of your body throughout the movement. Pay close attention to your body during each exercise and stop immediately if you feel pain or discomfort. If you have a pre-existing condition, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
To make continuous progress and strengthen your body, add proper warm-up exercises, rest, and nutrition to your exercise program. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before exercising the same muscle groups again to ensure adequate recovery. Your results will ultimately depend on your ability to recover adequately from your workout.
Do wall push-ups do any good?
Wall push-ups increase stability. Like traditional push-ups, wall push-ups work the muscles of the entire upper body, including the pectorals, anterior deltoids, and triceps. When performed correctly, wall push-ups activate the stabilizing muscles in your midsection, including the abdominal and lower back muscles.
Do wall push-ups count?
No, that’s not an exaggeration. When done correctly (see above), wall push-ups activate and strengthen the same muscles as regular push-ups. That includes the chest.
What happens if you do wall pushups every day?
Daily push-ups can help improve muscle tone and upper body strength. Other potential benefits include improved cardiovascular health and better shoulder joint support. However, practicing push-ups daily also carries some risks. These include lower back pain, wrist pain, and elbow injuries.
Do wall pushups tone the arms?
Wall push-ups train your biceps, triceps, pectorals, and anterior deltoids that help you move your shoulder. In addition, this exercise also works your back, abs, and hips. And that is the reason for the toning!