Wide pushups are a simple yet effective way to build your upper-body and core strength. If you’ve mastered regular pushups and want to target your muscles a little differently, wide pushups are a good option.
By positioning your hands further apart, wide pushups target your chest and shoulder muscles more than standard pushups. They offer other benefits, too.
To do wide pushups, you don’t need any gear besides your own body weight. This means you can do them anywhere and anytime you want.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of wide pushups, how to do them, and variations you can try.
What are the benefits of a wide pushup?
According to the American Council on Exercise, wide pushups can increase muscle strength and endurance in your:
- chest (pectoralis)
- shoulders (anterior deltoid)
- upper arms (triceps)
A 2016 study found that doing pushups with a wider hand placement can also work your serratus anterior muscle harder than a standard pushup.
This often neglected muscle, which spans your upper ribs, helps you move your arms and shoulders. It also provides support to your neck and back muscles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, wide pushups are also a beneficial core stability exercise. Having strong core muscles can enhance your balance and posture, protect your back from injury, and make almost any movement easier.
Additionally, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, changing hand positions doesn’t only provide variety, it also allows you to use a different range of motion, which can help prevent overuse injuries.
How to do a wide pushup
As with all exercises, it’s important to use proper form. Doing so can help you reap the most benefits and avoid injury.
To do a wide pushup with correct form, keep these pointers in mind:
- Keep your shoulders, spine, and hips in a straight line.
- Lengthen your spine to keep your back straight.
- Make sure your hips don’t sag down or point upward.
- Look at a spot on the floor ahead of you as you keep your neck neutral.
- Engage your core and gluteal muscles when you do the exercise.
Once you’re ready to start, follow these instructions:
- Start in plank position with your hands wider than your shoulders.
- Face your fingers forward or slightly to the outside.
- Slowly bend your elbows out to the side as you lower your body toward the floor.
- Pause when your chest is just below your elbows.
- Engage your core as you press into your hands to lift your body back to the starting position.
- Do 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions.
If you have good upper-body strength, you can build up to do 3 to 4 sets of 20 to 30 repetitions.
The key is to start slowly and gradually increase the number of sets and repetitions as you get used to this exercise.
Be sure to warm up before doing a set of wide pushups. Try doing some dynamic stretches, like arm circles or arm swings, to get your muscles warmed up and relaxed.
Do wide pushups with caution, especially if you have any injuries or have had an injury in the past. This is especially important for shoulder, back, or wrist injuries.
If you aren’t sure if a wide pushup is safe for you, talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or a certified personal trainer before trying it.
To avoid muscle strains, don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Stop immediately if you experience pain.
You can avoid repetitive injuries by cross-training, or doing exercises that target other muscle groups.
Variations of a wide pushup
If you’re a beginner, you can try doing this exercise on your knees instead of your toes. This may help you pay attention to your form and the proper alignment of your shoulders, back, and hips.
Once you have the correct form down, and have built up your strength, you can transition to the regular wide pushup.
More challenging variation
To make a wide pushup more challenging, try one of the following:
- Place your feet on an elevated surface, such as a bench, step, or box.
- Place one foot on a basketball or volleyball and the other foot on the floor.
- Put both feet on a ball.
- Place a weight plate on your back.
Another option is to try staggered-hand pushups by placing one hand in the usual position, below your shoulder, and your opposite hand out wide. This can work one side of your chest at a time.
What’s the best way to add a wide pushup to your workout?
Wide pushups are a versatile exercise. You can do them:
- as part of your warmup routine, after doing dynamic stretches
- mixed into your cardio or strength-training workout
- at the end of a weightlifting session
Aim to do wide pushups 3 to 4 times per week, allowing for at least 1 full day of rest in between sessions to help your muscles recover.
Proper form is more important than how many wide pushups you do. It’s better to do fewer repetitions with perfect alignment than more repetitions with poor form.
The bottom line
Wide pushups offer a challenging upper-body workout that targets the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and upper arms. This pushup variation can also help build your core strength, and it may help protect your back, too.
Alternating wide pushups with standard pushups may also be a good way to prevent overuse injuries.
Always work within your limits and avoid overexerting yourself. Start slowly and have patience as you build your strength and endurance.