4 Knuckle Push Ups Benefits: Muscles Worked, Variations, Mistakes

knuckle push ups benefits for man - fist knuckles
(Last Updated On: March 18, 2023)Home » 4 Knuckle Push Ups Benefits: Muscles Worked, Variations, Mistakes

If you have workout plans to quickly strengthen your upper body without equipment, then Knuckle Push Ups is a great benefit compound exercise to add to your schedule, for your chest and shoulders mainly and other muscles.

You can hit different muscles in one single exercise, but all you have to do is change the width apart of your fist, and you’re ready to hit a new muscle! So, if you haven’t been doing your push up exercise seems you missed it a lot, I’ll explain it to you in a few minutes.

Through this article I will discuss the different working muscles that can be a strength using Knuckle Push Ups exercise, what benefits you can get! Different variations of knuckle push up, levels that can be adjusted to control the difficulty while performing the exercise, critical mistakes that can be avoided yourself to reduce from any potential injury.

Knuckle Push Ups Benefits

There are 4 good benefits of exercising the use of the fist knuckles as follows:

  • Improve balance in your upper body. Without forearm stability and control of the wrist and knuckles, your body can collapse during exercise.
  • Using your palm for push up will set your hands 90 degrees with your forearms, which will reduce blood flow to your hand, while a natural fist will not block circulation flow.
  • You can gain a lot from the routine, you can work out multiple muscles of the body either at the top or in the middle with a slight change, using only one consolidated workout.
  • You can practice at any time at home without equipment, and start doing the workout.



How To Do Knuckle Push Ups?

If you are completely new to the exercise, it is too early to add it directly to your work schedule, so it is preferable to perform a standard push-up or any forearm exercises for a while, then you can move on to this exercise.

But before that, it is good to know that even the exercise of the fist knuckles has great benefits, I want you to be aware first, that if the exercise does not follow the correct steps, you expose yourself to a certain injury, so make sure that you perform it correctly.

  • Lie on a mat or floor with a regular or standard hand push-up position, usually place your hands shoulder width apart or slightly wider, while set your feet 6 inches apart.
  • Switch both your hands to be on fist form, keeping your arms and your back straight (starting position).
  • Gradually lower your body to the floor by bending your elbows (without your upper body touching the floor), making sure that your elbows are slightly close to your body, bending no more than 45 degrees.
  • Raise your body, by pushing the floor with your fists, and set your arms fully extended (do not lock your elbows in the upper position). (that’s one step)
  • Repeat the exercise with the same steps.


Advance Tip: While you are doing the push-ups in the starting position, (before you start the routine) you can set your thumbs of both fists on the floor (put them down and don’t press too hard) this will balance your body from falling during the workout.


Knuckle Push up Muscles Worked

As we explained before, knuckle push up works on different muscles mainly in the upper body. Which includes the triceps, shoulders with different deltoid layers, chest muscles and parts of the abdominal muscles.

So the possibilities of gaining from a single exercise are high, you can benefit from the exercise by checking out the other features below and the controls you should be aware of.


Do Knuckle Push Ups Work Forearms?

While knuckle push up, the wrist plays a great role in stabilizing and controlling the exercise, but the forearms are responsible for extending, rotating and flexing the wrist joint, which means that the forearms keep the balance of the wrist from collapsing, which leads increases the strength of the forearm fibers and improves it’s stability and arms strength.

The forearms are more involved in the knuckle exercise, compared to the traditional push-up which has less impact on muscles that work less effectively.

In short, forearm strengthening works best with pulling exercises, not like pushing, where they have a secondary role in building the forearm muscle.



Knuckle Push Up Mistakes

Some mistakes may be failure by the performer during exercise, possibly leads to serious injury, cause of slight stumble or underestimation of correct routine steps and required precautions during performing.

  • Wrong fist position and alignment: I can’t emphasis the importance of putting your fist in the correct position and shape, every time you change the distance between your hands you actually hit different muscles, so you need to determine exactly the strength of the muscles you want to focus on and start the workout, the wrist should always be straight compared to your hand.

Cause failure to do so will result in injury to your hands due body exposure to heavy weight lifting using your hands.

  • Start directly with a hard level difficulty knuckle push up exercise, If a beginner or this exercise is new to you, try to avoid jumping straight to the difficulty level, in order to practice the correct steps of the routine, start with a lighter level, and gradually increase the difficulty during your journey. I will add a topic in this article where you can control the level of exercise.
  • Performing an exercise while not align back to be straight, It is important to keep your back as straight as possible during the performing, the reason behind this is, if you raise your lower back above the usual level, it will push your upper body forward and will put more pressure on your fist during the performing, which may cause injury or twist on your wrist.
  • Misplace elbows position, Secure your elbows to the correct position during the performing.

There are basically two correct elbow positions, either very close to the body hitting the triceps, or slightly opening the arms, which will hit the chest, if you accidentally adjust your elbows to 90 degrees from your body, it will put more stress on your elbows joint and may cause injury or damage to your joint.

  • Un-Protect your Bare Hand Fist. While repeating the exercise several times, your hand and fingers begin to swell and sore, so to prevent this it is better before you start to wear the cross-fit grip that will protect your hand from such injuries.
  • Knees Inflammation. If you plan to put your knees on a rough floor, then your knees are exposure to soreness, it is best to exercise safely with a specialized soft and comfort material exercise using mat exercise, and choose the one that suits your needs at the correct size, to avoid the knees from potential injury.


Knuckle Push up Variations

They are different variations that you can exercise using knuckle push up, but you have to beware if you are a totally beginner, it is better not to use variation in the exercise, because it is kind of difficult, and most important in order to protect the knuckle and wrist from any damage.

If you are qualified to perform the workout, here is the list of knuckle push up variations:

Triangle motion knuckle push up

Triangle motion knuckle push up

The target of the exercise, is to imposes more tension and focus on one hand at a time (such as exercising the isolation muscles), with more load on the arm than usual, and by varying the angle of motion (the shape of the triangle movement) of reach and the strength of the other side.

Start the exercise as usual knuckle push up with the starting position and the fist on the ground, then slowly lower your chest towards the left fist direction (the chest should not touch the floor), then freeze for two seconds and then push up to the starting position, then move to the other right side, by lowering your chest to the right fist, then push back.

Then alternatively repeat the exercise on both sides.


Twisting Knuckle Push Up

Twisting leg knuckle push up

This variation increases the flexibility of the thighs, hips, and rotational muscles.

While your on knuckle push up as a starting position, rotate your hip slightly to the right, sending your right leg to the left side by crossing it in front of the left leg, then slowly lower your chest to the floor as a normal push-up, but make sure your hip does not touch the floor, then push your fist on the floor to come back upper, then return your right leg to the first normal position.

Repeat the exercise steps by switching to the other side of the left leg.


Knee to Opposite Elbow Knuckle Push Up

Knee to Opposite Elbow Knuckle Push Up

This variation is responsible for working on several muscles, to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and back and improve the rotation of the hips, as well as to engage the chest and triceps.

The exercise sound tricky, but it adds more challenge to your exercise like the twisting, and it is also an exciting workout.

Begin as usual by start of knuckle push up position, now send your right knee to the directions of the left elbow, hold this position for 2 seconds, then bring your right leg back to the start position, now lower your chest to the floor as usual push up, then push back to starting position. Perform the same exercise steps by switching to the other side, this time from the left knee and repeat.


Note: If you are an intermediate or advanced builder, and want to increase the intensity of your workout and build endurance, you can either wear a heavy weighted vest or add any weight on your back (insure does not harm you).



Hand Placement Knuckle Push-Ups

You can Perform Knuckle Push-Ups Targeting Different Muscles, using different hand placement, just by changing the width of the fist distance. Now to target:

  • Triceps Muscles: By keep very close fist as possible, and making sure your elbows are close to your body while your performing.
  • Deltoid Shoulder (Lateral & Posterior): Adjust your fists to be at shoulder width a part, to hit the posterior delts parts, keeping your elbow as close as possible to your body, to target the lateral delts, keeping the elbows slightly away from your body at about 45 degrees.
  • Deltoid Shoulder (Interior): Make your fist slightly wider than shoulder width apart, while keeping the elbow 45 degrees.
  • Chest Muscles: Place your fist round at double shoulder width apart, elbow at maximum 60 degrees.

hand placement knuckle push ups


Difficulty level of Knuckle Push Up

You can still control how difficult level it is of knuckle push up, whether you want to start with a lighter or heavier level, depends on you and your ability, by doing the following:

Easy: Level 1: Where you need to place your knees on the ground, while your thighs are at a level of 90 degrees with your calves.

Intermediate: Level 2: You need to place your knees on the floor, while your thighs are at a level of 120 degrees with your calves.

Advance: Level 3: You need to raise your entire body by not touching the torso and knees the ground, by balancing your body on your toes.



We discuss the important tips and benefits of fist knuckle push ups, with different muscles you can gain while performing, with just a slight change in hand placement.

Following the proper knuckle push-up form, and gradually moving through the levels, becomes easy once you learn the correct step-by-step instructions. However, this push up workout can be considered for intermediate level and above, cause their is a possibility for exposes to get injured if the level of exercise is underestimated.

Additionally, without taking a secure precautions using CrossFit grips and a proper fitness mat will increase your chances of getting sore and injuries in your fist, so be very careful at this point.

Also, remember to always use a a stable fist with no bend, to reduce risks during exercise.

Wish article provides more information about today’s exercises, and happy safety exercises as you build to strengthen your muscles.


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