Finger Push-Ups: Is There Any Benefit?

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
November 22, 2022

Finger push-ups, otherwise known as fingertip push-ups are a feat of physical strength primarily demonstrated by advanced level calisthenic athletes or competitive martial artists.

Though they are generally viewed as more of a show of athleticism more than anything else, regular performance of finger push-ups does indeed have several benefits that are otherwise difficult to achieve with other exercises.

For the most part, the benefits derived from finger push-ups have to do with conditioning and strengthening of the forearm muscles, the wrist joint and the fingers - making it an excellent exercise for martial artists and climbers.

What are Finger Push-Ups?

Finger push-ups are the advanced progression of conventional push-ups, generally exceeding its predecessor in terms of stability and conditioning requirements. 

finger push up

As an exercise, finger push-ups are a bodyweight compound resistance exercise that makes use of elbow extension and scapular movement as the main biomechanics involved throughout each repetition.

Unlike other push-up variations, finger push-ups create an extremely small point of contact by being performed solely with the fingertips of the hands, rather than the entire palm - this creates a far larger challenge, not only for the stabilizing muscles of the body, but also for non-muscular tissue as well.

How to Perform

To perform a fingertip push-up, the exerciser will assume a plank position on the floor with only the fingers and toes remaining in contact with the ground.

Then, bending at the elbow as they contract the core muscles, the exerciser will lower their body until approximately several inches off the floor.

finger push up muscles

Once this half of the repetition has been completed, the exerciser will then push against the floor through their fingertips, returning to their original plank position.

Having returned to the starting position, the finger push-up repetition may be considered complete.

Muscles Worked by Finger Push-Ups

Finger push-ups work much the same muscles as a conventional push-up alongside the added benefit of forearm muscle recruitment.

This means that every time an exerciser performs a finger push-up repetition, they are working their pectoral muscles, anterior deltoid head and triceps brachii while also contracting the core muscles, glutes and the rest of the deltoid muscle group in an isometric fashion.

Benefits of Finger Push-Ups

Considering the fact that finger push-ups are a variation of the conventional push-up exercise, it comes as no surprise that they impart much the same benefits as well.

This means that the usual effects associated with regular push-up performance like larger and stronger chest muscles are also achieved through the performance of fingertip push-ups as well.

To encapsulate these various benefits, it can be said that regular performance of finger push-ups aids in caloric expenditure, developing muscular endurance of the upper body, induces hypertrophy in the various push muscles of the body and reduces risk of injury in certain respects.

Improved Forearm Strength

Though finger push-ups are performed with the fingers being in contact with the ground, there is very little muscle therein to develop. 

Instead, when finger push-ups are performed, it is the muscles of the forearms that contract, moving the tendons of the hands and resulting in the fingers themselves moving by extension. This equates to the forearm muscles being trained throughout the exercise.

Though this sort of stimulus is unlikely to lead to a significant amount of muscular hypertrophy, it will indeed improve the stability and contractive strength of the many smaller muscles that make up the forearms - directly translating to greater grip strength, forearm stability and a variety of other physical activities.

Core Muscle Stabilization Improvement

While traditional push-ups also train the core muscles in an isometric manner, finger push-ups can take this stimulus to an entirely different level due to the smaller base with which the body must stabilize itself.

This can result in the muscles of the abdomen and spine working harder to ensure the exerciser does not break form or otherwise collapse, resulting in far greater core stability and endurance over time.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that an exerciser will even be capable of performing a finger push-up with correct form unless their core muscles are already developed to a certain degree, meaning that one must already understand how to contract their core prior to reaping this particular benefit.

Hand Conditioning for Martial Artists

Though fingertip push-ups were popularized by Hollywood celebrities and various pop culture fitness icons, they were in fact utilized to their greatest extent by martial artists - a practice that was meant to both improve the muscular function of the exerciser as well as a method of conditioning their hands.

While it is true that there are safer and less difficult methods of achieving proper hand conditioning, finger push-ups nonetheless remain quite effective and efficient when performed for this purpose, saving the exerciser time and energy simultaneously.

Fingertip push-ups achieve this sort of hand conditioning by both improving general forearm strength as well as placing measured amounts of stress on the connective and osseous tissues of the hands, resulting in denser tissue over time.

In Conclusion - Should Finger Push-Ups be Performed at All?

Chances are, if you have read this far into the article, you may be wondering why more people don’t perform fingertip push-ups as a part of their workout routine.

In actuality, though finger push-ups do indeed provide a number of benefits that are considered unique among push-up variations, the risk often outweighs the reward.

Performing finger push-ups without being sufficiently prepared - or even making small mistakes in form - can easily result in pretty debilitating injuries of the hands.

This is the reason why the majority of exercisers (even elite level athletes) will only ever perform finger push-ups as a method of testing their strength, or as a way of showcasing their ability. 

It is still entirely possible to incorporate fingertip push-ups into your workout, but we advise caution and extensive preparation beforehand. Work your way up to fingertip push-ups by conditioning your hands and muscles over time, and always perform a mobility routine beforehand.

References

1. Borreani S, Calatayud J, Colado JC, Moya-Nájera D, Triplett NT, Martin F. Muscle activation during push-ups performed under stable and unstable conditions. J Exerc Sci Fit. 2015 Dec;13(2):94-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jesf.2015.07.002. Epub 2015 Sep 2. PMID: 29541105; PMCID: PMC5812863.

2. Max Roman Dilthey. (2011, June 3). LIVESTRONG FITNESS “Fingertip Push Ups”. Retrieved November 13, 2022, from LIVESTRONG.COM website: https://www.livestrong.com/article/461839-finger-push-ups/

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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