Fitness Tips

Tiger Push-Ups Hit the Hardest-To-Reach Muscles In Your Abs and Upper Body

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/ gruizza

Tigers are having a major moment. In the early days of quarantine, Joe Exotic and his squad brought them to our Netflix queues, and just last week they made their appearance alongside Carole Baskin on the set of Dancing With The Stars. Now, we’re bringing them to our workouts with the latest 2.0 push-up variation: the tiger push-up.

Also known as the “tiger-bend push-up,” this advanced move ups the ante on your shoulders and triceps. “The tiger-bend push-up modifies a normal push-up to emphasize better engagement of the core and upper arms,” says Nick Topel, ISSA certified personal trainer and chief operating officer of Model Trainers. “Push-ups, in general, are great for developing the core, and muscles of the upper body like your chest, triceps, and shoulders, and the tiger-bend helps to buff out the shoulders and triceps even more.”

It’s a more advanced variation than your standard push-up, so before you try it out for yourself you’ll want to work on building up strength in the muscles required to do it properly. “The tiger-bend push-up requires significant upper body strength because it involves the complex and unique coordination of your core and upper body muscles,” says Topel. He suggests focusing on working the individual muscles (specifically your core, triceps, and shoulders) and auxiliary movements before you put them together into a tiger push-up.

To target your core, Topel recommends elbow planks. Try to work up to three sets of 60-second continuous holds.

For your shoulders, he suggests standing barbell push-press, which will help you strengthen your deltoids while also giving some added love to your core. Try to work up to completing three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

And for your triceps, try some bodyweight dips, which will help strengthen the muscles on the back of your arm while simultaneously activating the front part of your shoulders. Aim to complete three sets of 12 to 16 reps.

Once you’ve got these muscles feeling strong, you’ll be ready to try out the tiger-bend push-up. Start by lying face down on the floor with your forearms on the ground and palms down, then slide your forearms out in front of you so that your elbows are directly beneath your shoulders (to make the exercise even harder, you can slide them further away from your body, which turns the move into a sphinx push-up). Pin your elbows to your side to fully engage your triceps, take a deep breath to hold and brace your core, and tilt your torso slightly forward so that your upper body is angled downwards about 10 to 15 degrees.

From the push-up position, slowly lower your forearms and elbows to the ground keeping your elbows tight, torso tilted core braced. Allow the top of your forehead to touch the ground and pause for a count of one while keeping the body flexed.  At the bottom of the movement, your biceps should make contact with your forearms. Then, press up from the floor focusing on explosive power from the triceps. You should feel the back of your arm and front of your shoulders flex hard while the core stays tight and rigid. Exhale, and repeat—your muscles are guaranteed to be roaring.

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