Pilates Push-Ups Are a Surefire Way To Burn Out Your Triceps—Here’s How To Do Them Right

While there may be many ways to crack an egg, some activities—like push-up variations and shaving your butt—have a "right" and a "wrong" way. This episode of The Right Way touches on an exercise that falls into the former category. In it, Chloe de Winter, founder of Go Chlo Pilates, demos how to do a Pilates push-up.

"There are many different types of push-ups," she says (the definitive ranking of which you can find here). "But today, I'm going to take you through what is the more traditional Pilates push-up, which is more of a tricep-focused push-up."

First, she goes over the common mistakes she sees people make when doing a Pilates push-up, which include not controlling the movement as you go down, elbows going wide, and not having a neutral spine. Then she breaks down how to do it the right way.

Experts In This Article

How to do a Pilates push-up

1. "The setup is super important because a Pilates push-up is just a plank that's moving," says de Winter. Start on the ground with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees on the floor. Take a little step back with your knees, then shift your weight forward so your shoulders are over your wrists. "We've got this connection through our core muscles, rather than just dumping down through the low back. Think about scooping the tailbone under and engaging through the core muscles."

2. The next thing to think about is elbow placement. "As you lower, think about the elbows pointing behind you," says de Winter. "Think about the arms grazing the size of the ribs." She adds that your elbows may naturally want to splay out, but to target your triceps, you'll want to keep them close to your body. "It's not wrong, it's just a different type of push-up," she says. You can do a smaller, half-sized version of the movement, or you can lower your chest to the floor.

3. As you lower your body, your head and neck should go down in line with your spine—you shouldn't lead with your head. "Think about lifting up the head, a little tuck of the chin, and leading with the chest as you come down," says de Winter. "And as you build up strength, you'll be able to make this movement bigger with that head and neck control."

4. Lastly, connect your breath. Inhale as you lower down and exhale as you lift back up.

De Winter does the demo on her knees, but you can also perform this move on your toes (you may want to work on perfecting your form in the modified version, then ramping things up with the full expression of the exercise as you get stronger). Press play on the video above to see her tips in action.

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