If you are looking to take your push-ups to the next level and place some additional focus on your shoulders then Side to Side push-ups are what you need to add to your routine.

How to do Side to Side Push Ups

Video Demonstration

Image Example

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Step by Step Description

Step 1: Lie face down on the floor with your body straight. Put your palms faceing down on the floor. Your fingers should be pointing straight ahead. You are going to use a slightly wider than shoulder width positioning.

Step 2: Extend at your elbows raising your body to the top of the push-up position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.

You are now in the starting position.

Step 3: Now lean to one side and bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor. Your elbows should be at a 20 to 45-degree angle with your body, not 90 degrees which have been shown to produce acute and eventually chronic injury to your joints and tissues.


If you want to make the exercises harder, then you should try performing the feet elevated side to side push-up. For this version, you will place a weighted bench, or you can use anything from the steps in your house behind you. Now put your toes on the bench, so your feet are elevated and follow all of the steps outlined above.

This variation will place more work on your Upper Chest. It also provides more work to your shoulders since you have to support more of your bodyweight.

Difficulty Level

For this exercise, you should be at an intermediate fitness level. You should also have a solid grasp and excellent form with the traditional push-up and be able to perform around ten repetitions before you attempt to add this lift into your routine.

Equipment Required

Since this is a calisthenics exercise all you need is your body and an area large enough for you to lay down to perform it.

To continue making progress, you will either need to keep increasing the number of reps and sets you are performing.

Another option instead of increasing your reps and sets is to grab a durable weighted vest. Titan makes a weighted vest that can hold up to 100 pounds and can get loaded in increments of 2lbs at a time.

A weighted bench or some elevated platform is also useful since you can perform the elevated feet variation of this lift.

Muscles Worked

The Primary muscles worked from side to side push-ups are your Chest.

The secondary muscles involved with this exercise are the Shoulders, Abdominals, Triceps and your Traps. Since you are leaning to a side for each push-up, it places more work on your shoulders than the traditional push-up does.

Side to Side Push Ups Benefits

Since this is a calisthenics(body weight) exercise you do not need any equipment to perform it. Being a calisthenics exercise makes it useful for people who do their workouts. It is also useful got when you are not able to get out to your local gym.

Push-ups are a functional exercise and becoming stronger on them will help you with any activity that requires you to push something.

Helps you to train your muscles to work together and become stronger as a unit.

Performing push-ups will improve your reaction time by training your proprioceptive muscle fibers. These microscopic nerves work to keep your body balanced. Push-ups train these nerves by firing them continually to prevent you from tipping over. The more they get trained, the quicker they can respond to stimulation which aids in increasing your balance and speed

David Nordmark, author Pushups for Everyone

Training Tips

This variation of the push-up will place a significant amount of stress on the shoulders of the side you are leaning towards. If you have a history of shoulder issues, you may want to sit this exercise out.

The closer you have your feet to one another the more your core will get recruited to help stabilize your body. Using the elevated foot version will require even more core involvement.

To ensure your body is forming a straight line you need to use the five points of joint alignment ankles, knees, hips (not your butt), shoulders, and head. It is common for the Glutes to appear slightly above the rest of your body when all five joints are correctly aligned.

Keep your head and neck in the neutral position the entire time you are performing this exercise.

Having your fingers pointing straight will allow maximal loading of your glenohumeral joint by packing the scapulae down and back rather than up and forward.

Make sure that you use the full range of motion(ROM) when you are performing this exercise. When you lower your body, the chest should be just millimeters from the floor, and in the top position, your arms should have only a slight bend. People who fully straighten their arms tend to hyperextend at the elbow which is a recipe for injury.

To continue making progress, you should look at getting a good weighted vest. Titan makes a durable weighted vest that will allow you to load up to 100 lbs in increments of 2.

If you do not have access to a weighted vest, then you are either going to have to increase the number of sets and or reps you are performing from workout to workout.

In Closing

Side to Side push-ups provide all the benefits that the traditional push-up offers as well as some additional training on your shoulders.

If you are looking to add some variety to your training, you should try the side to side push-up for at least a few weeks to see the benefits it has to offer for yourself.