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October 07, 2022 8 min read

When it comes to getting ripped with an added advantage of strength, endurance, and balance, studies show that  push-ups are an all-time favorite.

Not only are they easy to get the hang of and easy to incorporate into your daily I weekly exercise routine, but they are also a relatively easy way to target and build the pectoral and brachial muscles for intimidating boulders.

However, if you seek a minor challenge with far more impressive work on your back AND chest muscle groups, we believe reverse push-ups are the ammo you need in your arsenal.

Although created from the straightforward and standard push-ups version, reverse push-ups are more complex and involve more movements that target specific back, arm, and chest muscles.

With reverse push-ups, you can focus a large amount of your body’s weight on your arms, and also activate your leg muscles and glutes, therefore providing you with a full-body workout.

What is a Reverse Push-up?

There isn't one definite way to describe reverse push-ups, as you can do this exercise in several ways. These versions may involve pulling the body against gravity, to simulate the ‘rowing’ of the ring on the wheels of a moving train while some other options might have you clinging to a bar.

While it is interesting to note that the reverse push-up is a variation originating from the classic push-ups, some other deviations and derivations try to not only invert push-ups but also tailor your workout to suit your needs.

Although employing some of these exercises as stand-alone versions of push-ups is a good idea, using more than one of these reverse push-up variations in your mornings is definitely going to yield a killer workout routine.

If you are looking to  get shredded, reverse push-ups are a great exercise to utilize. These less common versions of push-ups might involve various positions, more or less action, and even the incorporation of several gym equipment. These push-up variations may have you on all fours in imitation of an original push-up, on your back, or even leaning against a bench.

bodybuilder with six pack abs showing off his muscles

Muscles Activated in Reverse Push-ups

While they are relatively harmless exercises, reverse push-ups task the body more than standard push-ups do. Because the reverse push-ups employ a wider range of motions, they provide you with an explosive workout.

When done correctly, reverse push-ups engage the upper body and boost endurance. They are an ideal way to focus on back, shoulder, and arm strength for better muscle gains and an overall shredded look.

One thing all variations have in common is their ability to provide enough resistance to build strength in your arms, chest, and back.

Reverse push-ups fire up your pectoralis muscles, activate your deltoids, target the trapezius back muscles, and build your triceps. It also works wonders for mobilizing the shoulder blades and strengthening the shoulder joints. Reverse push-ups are also one of the few targeted exercises that aim to develop the Serratus anterior.

They enhance trunk stability and engage your core.

If you are looking for a means to build size in those muscles, you should probably get started. While this might sound familiar – sure, the standard push-ups help your upper body quite alright – reverse push-ups do more than this.

Because we base some of this exercise on their ability to drive your body backward instead of the normal push action, it chips in a much-needed lower body workout. This is quite a game-changer.

This full-body movement provides an avenue to task your glutes while also getting your leg muscles involved.

It helps to isolate the important muscles. This, however, doesn't mean it should replace other lower body exercises in your workout routines. Reverse push-ups help to work the upper and lower back muscles while also involving the hamstrings, calf, quads, and shin muscles of the legs. In the proper forms, the core is engaged, leading to tighter internal and external obliques, and also contracts and strengthens the transverse abdominis.

In addition to all this, some variations of the reverse push-ups work on the erector spinae. Added to the activation of the gluteus maximus and medius muscles of the buttocks, reverse push-ups are no doubt refreshing to the anatomy.

Benefits of Reverse Push-Ups

Because reverse push-ups engage more muscles, it might be a challenging feat for individuals without the necessary fitness and core strength. Unlike regular push-ups, reverse push-ups target more muscles all at once. This is important, as it improves overall body musculature, body muscle tone, strength, and endurance.

Reverse push-ups are the perfect addition to be incorporated into workouts. Because they are weightless exercises, you can do them at home or at the gym.

Reverse push-ups can easily be modified to accommodate your specific strengths and weaknesses.

Reverse push-ups also help to promote better posture. This is thanks to its strengthening of the erector spinae, the muscles that run the length of the spine and strengthen the lower and upper back. This ensures that the spinal joints rotate and flex freely, and guarantees a neutral spine and strengthened core during exercises.

How to Do a Reverse Push-Up and Its Variations

In this article, we provide three different variations of reverse push-ups that are guaranteed to get your muscles moving.

1. The Full-body Reverse Push-Up


This is the major and most common type of reverse push-up that aims to work on the upper and lower back. When doing the full-body reverse push-up, it is important to get in the right form to target the muscles while avoiding injuries and cheap reps without results.

To ensure safety and proper form as a beginner, a personal trainer might be necessary. The reverse push-up is more difficult than it looks and, therefore, beginners should remember to warm up before engaging in this exercise.

To do this classic reverse push-up:

  1. Begin in the normal push-up position. Get into a plank position with your arms shoulder-width apart, directly beneath your shoulders.
  2. Grip the floors to ensure proper balancing. Keep your legs hip-width apart. 
  3. Straighten your back and legs. Ensure your body is flat, in a straight line, and parallel to the floor. 
  4. Engage your glutes and quads while tightening the core. 
  5. Keep your form as you lower your body until you are one inch above the floor. You should keep your elbows back at a 45° angle with the floor with your palms still beneath your shoulders. Pull your shoulder blades together.
  6. Push your hip back into your heels while straightening your arms. Ensure that your knees do not come in contact with the floor. Shift your weight on your lower body and hold this form for a second.
  7. With the balls of your feet, push your hip and straighten your form back into the push-up position. This is one rep. All repetitions begin in this starting position.
 Full-body Reverse Push-up Form Tips:
  • While the full-body reverse push-ups are a sure-fire way to get that much-needed full-body muscle tone, if you are new to fitness, it is important to build strength first.
  • Concentrate on keeping form during the exercise to avoid injury to the muscles. Cheat reps are not going to provide the same result. Keep your legs straight, engage your upper arms, avoid raising hips too high or sagging them too low, and always remember to engage the core and glutes.
  • Avoid overworking yourself. Split your exercise into a reasonable number of repetitions and sets. This would help you avoid muscle confusion, ensure that you do not get tired and thus help you keep your form during the exercise.
  • Warming up is as critical as your cool-down. Get your limbs ready. Your body is especially susceptible to injury if you are still healing from past injuries or have preexisting health issues. If this is the case, start slowly and gently ease yourself in, starting with fewer repetitions.

2. The Basic Reverse Push-Up


This is another popular yet simple version of the reverse push-up variation. This modification involves a starting point facing a different direction. This is another weightless reverse push-up, but unlike its predecessor, besides providing arm and chest strength, it is low-energy, super easy, and focuses on the Serratus anterior and scapular strength.

To do this variation:

  1. Lie on your back while looking straight ahead. Fold your knees while keeping your legs straight and knees planted firmly.
  2. Lift your arms up and over your head, folding it at the elbow with your fingers pointing straight behind you. Keep your arms straight.
  3. Plant your palms behind your ears, using your fingers for support. Your elbows should point directly upwards at this point.
  4. Tighten your core and lift your body off the ground as far as you can. Keep your palm and feet on the ground for support and tilt your shoulders backward to engage your scapulars. Do not widen your elbows.
  5. Hold this position for a few seconds and lower yourself back to the starting position. This is the first rep.

To add a bit of challenge and incorporate triceps into the basic reverse push-up:

  1. Start from a sitting position with your legs angled at the knee, your feet planted firmly. Place your hands about 6 inches behind you, a little more than hip-width.
  2. Lift your bottom a few inches above the ground and lower your body weight by simply flexing your elbow. Engage your core and triceps while keeping your body in the air with your weight in your upper body.

We guarantee this will help to tighten the upper arm, triceps, and core.

3. The Inverted Row Reverse Push-Up

A third variation involves the use of a barbell and a squat rack:

  1. With the barbell in the squat rack arm’s length away from you, lay on your back with your chest beneath the bar. 
  2. Keeping your arms straight but wider than your shoulders, clutch the bar with an overhead grip. Keep your feet in a straight line, engage your core and glutes, and pull yourself up without breaking form.
  3. Contract your hips, engage your glutes, and bend your elbows as your chest approaches the bar. Hold this position, then lower yourself back to the floor.

When done correctly, this reverse-push-up variation works as well as the full-body reverse push-up. It helps to work the biceps, engages your core, tightens your chest muscles, and contracts your glutes. It is, however, important to keep form throughout the reps while taking time to rest in between. This will help you reach your witness goals while making sure that you may be safe.

Building Those Muscles

Essentially, reversed push-ups are the perfect addition to your already existing workout routine. Figuring out what form of these exercises to add to your weekly routine or bro split depends entirely on the muscles you aim to engage.

While reverse push-ups are a great option to work your body, you should not entirely substitute them for other exercises in your daily workout routine. So while you are getting started with these reverse push-ups, remember to put in your squats and bench presses to work your muscles and bulk up. 

What makes reverse push-ups easy to fit into your exercise routines is their ability to change however you like as long as it is considered safe. If you are looking for more challenges or a medium to show off your gym prowess, you might want to include weighted vests in your reverse push-up exercises.

Overall, the key to getting your desired results from reverse push-ups, just like any other exercise, is to take your time, stay in form, and remain focused on  engaging your muscles.