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February 08, 2022 9 min read

The Pike Press is a great exercise that can build major shoulder muscles and chest strength, but not everybody enjoys doing pike presses.

They are also hard to do if you are recovering from any type of minor injury. However, if you consider a few alternative exercises, you can quickly build up enough strength perform them correctly.

In this article, we’ll show you ten of the best pike press alternatives. When done with the proper form, you will be sure to gain from these exercises.

Maintaining Proper Form

The key to all of these exercises is to maintain proper form through your movement patterns to keep your shoulders safe. You should feel every single rep in your upper body. If you feel any kind of pain, seek medical advice immediately.

Always warm up properly to reduce the risk of injury and don’t try to do too much at the beginning.

Proper form can become challenging through a loss of stamina so take rest periods or move on to your next exercise if needed. If you are trying to improve your level of endurance, consider trying HyperAde.

Best Pike Press Alternative #1: Cable Crossover


This is a basic strength exercise that works your chest, upper body and upper chest. Although it requires a weight machine, you should be able to find the machine pretty easily in most gyms. Be sure to grip and contract your pec muscles to make this exercise much more effective. 

Here is how to do the Cable Crossover: 

  1. Connect handles to the cable machines at a strong pulley point. 
  2. Place yourself in between both of the robots with your knees slightly bent. 
  3. Hold onto the handles of the pulleys with your hands faced forward with your limbs stretched out on the sides. 
  4. Gently lower the handles down into the floor before they either strike or pass over in front of you, experiencing a stretch and pinch through your muscles. 
  5. Hold this position for a count then return back to the starting position. 

The muscles used in the cable crossover may change slightly based on your range of motion and technique, but generally, the muscles used for cable crossover include your pecs, traps, and deltoids.

Best Pike Press Alternative #2: Barbell Military Press 


Also known as the overhead press, the barbell military press is another type of shoulder exercise that works your traps, deltoids, and front deltoids.

When done correctly, it can also target your neck, shoulders, upper back, and upper body. 

Here is how to do the Barbell Military Press: 

  1. Grasp a barbell from the rack or clean barbell from floor with an overhand grip, at hip width or shoulder width. 
  2. Place the bar in front of your face. 
  3. Press the bar up until your arms are extended overhead. 
  4. Lower to the front of your neck and repeat for your desired number of reps. 

Be sure to stand upright with your feet at hip width. Keep your legs straight, engage your glutes, and brace your core while you pull your ribs in.

Some common mistakes are leaning back during this exercise because your shoulders, pecs, and lats might start feeling too tight.

This can put too much pressure on your lower back and so it should be avoided. Standing with your back against a wall is a good way to force you to stand upright.

Best Pike Press Alternative #3: Sphinx Pose


The sphinx pose is a beginning backbend in yoga that helps train your chest, lungs, and lower back. The exercise also strengthens your spine and buttocks and helps lengthen your abdominal muscles. 

Here is how to do the Sphinx Pose: 

  1. First, lie down on your belly with your legs together. 
  2. Place your elbows under your shoulders with your forearms on the floor beside your sides. 
  3. Push up on your forearms so your upper chest is lifted. 
  4. Firm your butt and lengthen your lower back. 
  5. If you have a lower back injury or a new fracture, restrict the range of motion by keeping your shoulders on the floor to prevent any arching of your spine. 

As you are beginning, consider doing the sphinx pose standing up at first. Stand facing a wall, then put your forearms shoulder-width apart and your palms to the wall. Align your elbows with your shoulders.

You should feel the effects of this exercise in your upper pecs, abs, traps, deltoids, and side deltoids.

Best Pike Press Alternative #4: Superman


The Superman exercise helps develop your core and lower back muscles while providing a great stretch for your back.

This floor exercise is popular in yoga studios, boxing gyms, and even bootcamps.

Here is how to do the Superman: 

  1. Lay down on your front with both arms stretching out on the floor above your head, palms down (imagine you are flying like Superman). 
  2. Push your hips down into the floor, and lift your arms and legs up away from the floor. To do this you will need to contract the muscles down the back of your body, so squeeze the backs of your shoulders, your upper back and lower back muscles, your glutes, and lift your legs by contracting your hamstrings and calves. 
  3. Hold this position for the duration of the exercise. 

Try to lift your hands and feet up to the same height off the floor to create a nice even curve through the back of your body. Avoid over-lifting your legs because this can put too much pressure on your lower back. 

Best Pike Press Alternative #5: Tweaked Superman


To make this movement more difficult, consider raising both the right arm and right leg at the same time. You can also try a tweaked Superman. 

Here is how to do the Tweaked Superman: 

  1. Start on all fours with hands under your shoulders and knees under your thighs. 
  2. Raise one arm and the other leg to shoulder height.
  3. Lift your legs and upper body slowly with no jerking or fast movements. 

If you have narrow thighs, try changing the angle by just raising your upper body. Generally, the muscles used in this exercise are going to include your hamstrings, deltoids, glutes, spinal erectors, transverse abs, and rhomboids.

Best Pike Press Alternative #6: Burpees


Burpees are a dynamic movement combining both strength and cardio by engaging most major muscle groups of the body in rapid succession. They involve squats, push-ups and jumps, and you should expect your heart rate to elevate significantly while performing them. 

Here is how to do Burpees:

  1. Begin in a standing position with your feet at shoulder width, crouch down and put your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders. 
  2. From there take your weight into your hands and shoulders and jump your feet out behind you to straighten your legs. 
  3. At the same time, bend your elbows and lower your upper body to the floor like you are doing a push up. This is the bottom point of the movement and should be the same as the bottom point of your push up. 
  4. From the bottom, press your upper body back up away from the floor, by pushing down with your hands.
  5. As this happens, pull your legs underneath you, landing with your feet at shoulder width. Transfer your bodyweight back into your legs and stand up as if you are doing the upward part of a squat.
  6. As you stand, jump up and clap your hands above your head. As you land back down, go straight into your next burpee by crouching down and putting your hands back to the floor. 

Best Pike Press Alternative #7: Fast Burpees


You can increase the intensity of this exercise simply by doing the whole sequence faster or with more repetitions.

Use the instructions above, but just speed up all of your movements. Generally, the muscles used in this exercise are going to include your abs, calves, triceps, quadriceps, hip flexors, pecs, deltoids, rear deltoids, and wrist flexors.

The fast burpee is a complex movement when you do it dynamically with a steady flow and rhythm, so always keep your core muscles braced when you are jumping your legs out and in, as well as when you lower your chest to the floor. If you are new to strength training, bring one leg behind you at a time into the plank position from your squat, rather than running right out into the plank position.

Best Pike Press Alternative #8: Rear Delt Fly


The rear delt is a hard-to-reach muscle, so your form is very important when you do this exercise. It is best to start with a light pair of dumbbells and do about 10 reps. As you get more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the weight. To make sure you are training the right muscle, keep your range of motion slow and controlled. 

Here is how to do the Rear Delt Fly: 

  1. Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. 
  2. Push your hips back behind you and bend your knees slightly as you lean your torso forward with a flat back. Maintain this hip-hinge position throughout the exercise. 
  3. Let the weights hang down toward the floor with your elbows slightly bent and palms facing each other. 
  4. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears and a slight bend in your elbows, lift the weights out to your sides until they are in line with your shoulders. 
  5. Lower the dumbbells in a controlled way.

Best Pike Press Alternative #9: Handstand Push Up


There is hardly a more challenging bodyweight-only pike push up alternative than the handstand push up. It involves pressing against your bodyweight in the handstand or upside-down position.

If you can do a freestanding handstand push-up without the assistance of a wall, you will also be working your core muscles and improving total body stabilization.

If you need to use a wall, then you can, and this is also a good progression into the freestanding version if you plan to ever get to that level of fitness and build really muscular deltoids.

Here is how to do Handstand Push Ups:

  1. Kick yourself up into a handstand. If you're using a wall, face away from it. 
  2. Place your hands between six to 12 inches from the wall and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  3. Maintaining a tight core and rigid position, lower your head to the ground by bending at the elbows. 
  4. Once your head reaches the floor, push back up through the same path until your arms are fully extended again. 

Best Pike Press Alternative #10: Landmine Press


This is an amazingly beneficial training tool for building muscle, increasing strength, developing total body functionality and stability, and improving your athleticism and coordination.

It is also a good option if you have shoulder mobility issues.

You can do a kneeling press, standing press, two-arm press, one-arm press, and other possible variations that are all different from other pressing movements due to the nature of the movement. The landmine press is the perfect pike press alternative.

Here is how to do the Landmine Press:

  1. Load one end of a barbell up with the appropriate amount of weight plates for your fitness level. Make sure the other end of the bar is secured in a landmine device or in the corner. 
  2. Stand upright with your core tight and feet about hip-width apart. 
  3. Grab the weighted end of the barbell with both hands and hold it at chest height.
  4. Press the bar forward and up until your arms are extended.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position. 

Always Pay Attention to Your Form

For all of these exercises, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your form and emphasize quality over quantity to improve your strength. We recommend up to 10 slow, controlled reps as you get started.

Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps about twice a week and rest for a minute between rounds for maximum strength gain.

You can slowly start adding more  reps and sets to help you produce rapid muscle and strength gains.

If you want to achieve maximum strength, you may choose to do one low-rep, strength-focused session and then one higher rep,  hypertrophy-focused workout that often includes deadlifts or squats. Your muscles will generally need a long time to recover properly from a workout like this.

Recovery time is often at least 48 hours and up to 72 hours.

You also may want to change the position of your hands from time to time to maximize your gains.

Chest muscle activity can be greater when push ups are done with the hands placed halfway inward from their normal position.

As for actual muscle mass, you can get some really spectacular results from these exercises.

You will find that other exercises like dips can also help you quickly strengthen your triceps and pecs together by using 100 percent of your body weight, which is  far more than what you would ever lift during a floor press session of regular push ups. Even though they generally require you to lift more weight, many beginners find dips a little easier to do.

Getting Some Real Results

The pike press and all of these alternatives are good ways to build a bigger chest, and they can also be used to build bigger shoulders, forearms, biceps, and triceps. Bodyweight exercises like presses can often lead to a high level of overall hypertrophy, which is something that can directly build all of your major muscles, not just the ones you are training at the time.