If you’re looking for an effective upper body exercise, that doesn’t require any equipment, (oh, and will test your tricep strength like nothing else), look no further than the tiger push up.
The tiger push up is a tricep-dominant variation of the regular push up. It can be used in all sorts of workout routines and will have your triceps roaring after just a few repetitions.
Mastering this movement illustrates incredible upper body strength, mobility and stability.
Whether you just want to do it as a challenge, or if you’re looking to add it into your weekly routine, we explain how to do tiger push ups properly, the benefits, muscles worked, and tips for making the most of the exercise.
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How To Do Tiger Push Ups
To do tiger push ups;
- Start in a plank position like you would for a regular push up. You may want to position your legs slightly wider to help with balance.
- Shifting your weight backwards, bend at the elbows to lower yourself down onto your forearms. You’ll need to raise your hips slightly so your torso is angled down (almost like a pike push up, but with a smaller angle).
- From here, shift your weight forwards and push through your triceps to lift your forearms off the floor and into a push up so that you lower your chest to the floor.
- Push down through the floor to raise your chest off the floor like you would a regular push up.
- Repeat for repetitions (if you can!)
Triceps Activation = Keep Elbows Tucked In
To ensure your triceps are taking the load during the push up phase, position your hands relatively close together and keep your elbows tucked in. A wider position with flared elbows will mean the shoulders become more activated and take some of the load off the triceps.
Coach’s Tip – You may find different versions of the tiger push up… some which involve more of rolling motion on and off your forearms (like this). Both versions are tricep-dominant and will work great. We tend to prefer the version that involves pushing yourself up into a push up from your forearms, as it requires more explosive strength.
Benefits of Tiger Push Ups
Effective Muscle Building Exercise for Triceps
Ultimately, tiger push ups create an environment that will really test your triceps strength. The ability to push up from your forearms requires explosive strength from this muscle group.
As discussed further down the article, time under tension (TUT) is also very high for the triceps too… meaning they have very little time to rest.
The tiger push up includes a regular push up after the initial tricep push up, so you’re still hitting your chest like you would with regular push ups. The caveat is, however, that your triceps will tire sooner, so you likely won’t be able to do as many repetitions and sets… so your chest is unlikely to get the same kind of workout like it would do with a regular push up workout.
This just means incorporating tiger push ups into a workout routine that has other exercises to fully engage the chest too. Our calisthenics chest workout includes a variety of exercises to try.
Develops Core Strength
Tiger push ups require more stability and balance than regular push ups do.
This is because you’re shifting your weight back and forth during the movement, as well as requiring more core stability as you push up from your forearms.
It also helps develop explosive power from the mid-section, which has so many transferable benefits in both sports and everyday life.
Time Under Tension
The tiger push up involves two movements… the initial push up from resting on your forearms, to then a regular push up.
This means the exercise takes longer, and as a result, your muscles are under tension for longer… which is very good for muscular growth.
Time under tension (TUT) is an underrated approach to strength training but it can yield some amazing results, without needing to increase the volume. This is great for home workouts and those who don’t have access to lots of weights… and who don’t just want to increase the number of repetitions to increase the difficulty (which leads us nicely onto the next point…)
Fewer Reps Required
If you’ve got quite a good base strength level, one of the drawbacks to push ups is that you may find you need to do quite a lot of them to really challenge your muscles.
With tiger push ups… you should be so lucky!
Even just a few repetitions will be challenging, so this can change the dynamic of your bodyweight workouts… and even make them more efficient by focusing on more advanced moves, that don’t require high repetition sets.
This is also a bonus for avoiding any sort of repetitive strain injury, such as in the elbow, which can be an issue for high rep push up workouts.
Tiger push ups engage a lot of muscles within the movement, so to execute it properly, you need to have a good level of muscular coordination (e.g. raising your hips at the same time as you lower down onto your forearms).
This ability to contract and engage different muscle groups simultaneously is a key skill for athletic performance, and promotes better functional movement.
It also lays the foundation for more complex strength training exercises, such as a dumbbell overhead squat.
The tiger push up primarily targets the triceps, chest, shoulders and core.
Tiger Push Ups Progression
To work towards perfecting a tiger push up, you’ll need to focus on your triceps strength. This will play a defining role in your ability to perform the exercise properly.
Once you have got the tiger push up mastered, there are a few ways to make the movement even more challenging.
Firstly, you could opt for a decline tiger push up. This would involve raising your feet behind you. The movement would change slightly, and it would involve even more power to lift your forearms off the ground and the push up would require more shoulder and upper chest strength.
Another variation could be to wear a weighted vest to increase the resistance you need to lift and support.
Finally, a simple way to increase progression is to adjust the tempo… and focus on slow, eccentric phases and short, powerful concentric phases. This means the triceps are engaged for even longer during each repetition.
Things to Consider
Tiger push ups are challenging, so firstly, don’t get too disheartened if you can’t do them.
Secondly, because they are challenging, you want to ensure you feel very comfortable doing regular push ups before you even attempt the tiger push up, otherwise you risk injury.
Finally, this is a tricep-dominant variation of the push up, so bear that in mind when you think about incorporating it into your workouts (i.e. you’ll want somewhat fresh triceps before you attempt it for the first time).
Ultimately, tiger push ups are a great bodyweight exercise that helps develop powerful strength in the triceps, chest, shoulders and core. It is an advanced movement that also requires coordination and balance.
If you’re looking for an effective way to target your triceps using just your bodyweight, the tiger push up is certainly worth considering.