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Incline Push-Ups vs Regular (Key Differences Explained!)

Some push-up variations are harder than others.

Some push-up variations target slightly different muscle groups than others.

And some push-up variations work your body in a very different way to others.

Depending on your current fitness level, your fitness goals, and your personal preferences, there’s a range of push-up variations to choose from which can be added to your training program.

But with so many variations out there, it can be hard to know which ones are best suited to you and your fitness goals.

Well, don’t panic, because that’s where we come to save the day!

In this article, we discuss which exercise is best when it comes to regular push-ups vs incline push-ups.

We discuss the difference between the two exercises, which ones are best for working certain muscle groups, and which one will provide more of a challenge to the working muscles.

What’s The Difference Between Push-Ups And Incline Push-Ups?

The most obvious difference between regular push-ups and incline push-ups is the position you’re in during each one.

During regular push-ups, your hands and feet will be on the ground and your body will be in pretty much a straight line from your shoulders down to your heels.

You lower your chest down toward the ground while still maintaining the straight line body position.

Whereas during incline push-ups, your hands are on an elevated surface instead of being on the floor.

Your feet are still on the floor, as they are during regular push-ups, but the straight line from your shoulders to your heels now points in a downward direction.

The movement is still an up and down motion but this is now performed at a forward-facing angle rather than a straight up and down movement.

The change in the angle of your body during the exercise means that incline push-ups tend to target your lower chest a little bit more than regular push-ups while still bringing your shoulders, arms, and core into play too.

Woman doing an incline push-up on some stairs

Are Incline Push-Ups Better For Chest?

The answer to this can be slightly contradictory but it makes sense if you really think about it.

Incline push-ups are better at working your chest more than the other muscles involved in the movement. However, regular push-ups will be better at working your chest harder when compared to incline push-ups as a whole exercise.

In very simple terms, incline push-ups do a great job of targeting your chest muscles. However, regular push-ups are more challenging to do than incline push-ups.

This means that, despite primarily focussing on your chest more than the other working muscles, incline push-ups still aren’t quite as good for your chest as regular push-ups are.

That’s not to say that you can’t get some good levels of chest development with incline push-ups – you certainly can, but if you want to drastically increase the size and strength of your chest, regular push-ups will be a better choice for you.

Are Incline Push-Ups Better For Triceps?

No, incline push-ups aren’t better than regular push-ups for working your triceps.

During incline push-ups, more of your body weight is on your legs than your arms. This means that your arm muscles (including your triceps) have less weight to lift throughout the movement.

When you’re doing regular push-ups, your upper body will be lifting up to 70% of your total body weight.

This puts a lot of stress on your arms so they’ll need to work extremely hard to make the movement happen.

As your arm muscles have to lift more of your body weight during regular push-ups, this exercise will be better for your triceps than incline push-ups.

Are Incline Push-Ups Better For Shoulders?

While incline push-ups do certainly work your shoulders, they don’t work them as hard as regular push-ups do.

As less of your body weight is being supported by your upper body during incline push-ups, your shoulders have less stress and pressure placed on them during the movement.

During regular push-ups, your upper body is supporting a large portion of your total body weight.

This causes much greater levels of stress and pressure to be placed on your shoulders.

As they are working under more challenging conditions, your shoulders will likely benefit more from regular push-ups than incline push-ups.

Are Incline Push-Ups Harder?

Incline push-ups are easier than regular push-ups.

Many beginners use incline push-ups to help build strength in the working muscles so they’re then able to progress onto regular push-ups as they gain more experience in the gym.

It makes sense that incline push-ups are easier than regular push-ups as the inclined angle means you’re supporting (and lifting) less of your body weight than you are during regular push-ups.

Incline push-ups aren’t necessarily easy.

In fact, they can provide a very challenging and beneficial workout, it’s just that regular push-ups are quite a bit harder than incline push-ups so this needs to be considered when deciding which exercise is best for you.

Are Incline Push-Ups Safer?

A road with the words Safety First painted on in yellow paint next to double yellow lines

Regular push-ups are a safe exercise to perform regularly.

However, when doing incline push-ups, there’s less pressure and stress placed on your upper body. This means that your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are under less pressure throughout the movement.

Injuries to joints can be extremely serious, and unfortunately, push-ups can lead to these (although they’re very rare unless your technique is really bad).

Reducing the amount of stress and pressure on the working joints can actually make a big difference when it comes to minimizing your risk of injury during push-ups.

Both exercises are safe but incline push-ups may be just a little bit safer than regular push-ups.

Incline Push-Ups vs Regular: Which Is Best? 

Both regular push-ups and incline push-ups are very effective exercises and make great additions to most workouts.

When trying to decide which one is best for you, it’s important to think about your current fitness levels, your fitness goals, and your own personal preferences.

If you want an easier exercise that puts less pressure on your upper body but still does a good job at working your chest, then incline push-ups could be a good choice for you.

However, if you want a more challenging exercise that works your chest, arms, shoulders, and core to a higher degree, then regular push-ups will probably be the better exercise for you.

Both push-up variations can benefit you and your training so it could be that there’s room for both in your training program.

That’s all for this article, but do push ups strengthen wrists? Or perhaps you’re wondering when do push ups get easier?

Hope this helped!


How To Do Incline Push-Ups