Push-ups with Rotation: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
January 21, 2023

Push-ups are a classic exercise that has been a part of many fitness regimens. They are bodyweight exercises that require no equipment and can be performed anywhere, making them an accessible and convenient option for building upper body strength. The traditional push-up targets the chest, triceps, and shoulders. It can be modified to increase or decrease the difficulty level based on the individual's fitness level.

Push-ups with rotation take the classic push-up to the next level by adding a rotational element to the movement. In addition to improving upper body strength, the exercise can also help improve stability and balance by engaging the muscles in the lower body, including the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. 

One key aspect of the push-up with rotation is maintaining a stable plank position throughout the exercise. This means keeping the body straight from head to toe and engaging the core muscles to prevent the hips from sagging or lifting too high. Maintaining proper form during the push-up with rotation is essential to ensure that the targeted muscle groups are fully engaged and to reduce the risk of injury.

What is a Push-up with Rotation?

A push-up with rotation is a compound exercise that combines a traditional push-up with a rotational movement. The individual will start in a plank position with their hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground. 

push up with rotation

As they push themselves up to the top of the push-up movement, they will rotate their body to one side, bringing one hand off the ground and reaching it towards the sky. Then, as they lower their body back towards the ground, they will return their hand to the ground, do another push-up, and repeat the movement on the opposite side.

The rotational movement in the push-up with rotation adds an extra challenge to the traditional push-up, engaging other muscle groups and increasing the difficulty level. The rotational movement can also help improve flexibility in the upper body and torso, increasing the range of motion and reducing the risk of injury during other activities.

How to Perform Push-ups with Rotation

To perform push-ups with rotation, the individual will start in a plank position with their hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground. The feet should be hip-width apart, and the body should be in a straight line from head to toe.

push up with rotation starting position

The core muscles should be engaged, and the body should be kept in a stable plank position as the individual pushes up to the top of the push-up movement.

push up with rotation second position

As the top of the push-up is reached, the body rotates to one side, and one hand is lifted off the ground, going toward the sky.

push up with rotation end position

The body is then lowered back towards the ground, placing the hand back on the floor.

push up with rotation starting position

Next, another push-up is performed, and the body rotates to the other side, bringing the other hand off the ground.

push up rotation other side

This pattern is continued, alternating sides with each repetition.

Maintaining proper form during push-ups with rotation is essential to ensure that one fully engages the targeted muscle groups and reduces the risk of injury. For example, keep the body straight from head to toe and engage the core muscles to prevent the hips from sagging or lifting too high.

The number of repetitions will vary based on the individual's fitness level, but a general goal is to aim for 8-12 repetitions on each side. As you become more comfortable with the exercise and your strength improves, you can increase the number of repetitions or try a more challenging variation, such as elevating your feet or using a resistance band.

Muscles Worked in Push-ups With Rotation

Push-ups with rotation are a combination of standard push-ups and rotational movement that targets the chest, triceps, shoulders, and core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis.

It also engages the muscles in the lower body, including the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, to help improve stability and balance. By incorporating the rotational element, the push-up with rotation becomes a full-body exercise that can provide numerous benefits to your fitness routine.

The primary muscles worked during push-ups with rotation include the chest, triceps, and shoulders. The chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and minor, are responsible for moving the arms and are engaged during the push-up portion of the exercise.

The triceps, located on the back of the upper arms, are also involved as they help extend the elbow joint and push the body up from the ground. The shoulder muscles, including the deltoids and rotator cuff, are also activated during the push-up with rotation as they help support the body and provide stability.

In addition to the upper body muscles, push-ups with rotation also engage the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis. The rectus abdominis, also known as the "six-pack" muscle, runs down the front of the abdomen and flexes the spine.

The obliques, located on the sides of the core, help rotate the torso and engage during the exercise's rotational movement. Finally, the transverse abdominis is a deeper muscle that wraps around the waist and helps provide stability and support for the spine.

Push-ups with rotation can also help improve stability and balance by engaging the muscles in the lower body, including the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. The quadriceps, located on the front of the upper leg, are responsible for extending the knee joint and are engaged to help maintain proper form during the push-up with rotation. 

The glutes, or the muscles in the buttocks, are also involved in helping provide stability and support for the lower body. The hamstrings, located on the back of the upper leg, are responsible for flexing the knee joint and may also be engaged during the push-up with rotation to help maintain proper form.

Overall, push-ups with rotation are a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups in the upper body, core, and lower body. By engaging these muscle groups simultaneously, this exercise can help improve overall strength, muscle tone, stability, and balance. Incorporating push-ups with rotation into a fitness routine can benefit overall physical health and well-being.

Benefits of Push-ups with Rotation

Whether a seasoned athlete or a beginner looking to improve their fitness level, push-ups with rotation are versatile and practical exercises that can be modified to meet individual needs and goals.

Improved Strength and Muscle Tone

Push-ups with rotation are a challenging exercise that can help improve upper body strength and muscle tone. This exercise can help you build a muscular and defined chest, triceps, shoulders, and core muscles by targeting multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Increased Stability and Balance

The rotational movement of the push-up with rotation can help improve stability and balance by engaging the muscles in the lower body and core. This can be especially beneficial for athletes who need to maintain balance and control during dynamic movements.

Improved Flexibility

The rotational movement in the push-up with rotation can help improve flexibility in the upper body and torso. This can help increase one’s range of motion, improve mobility, and reduce the risk of injury during other activities.

Enhanced Cardiovascular Endurance

As a compound exercise that involves multiple muscle groups, push-ups with rotation can also provide a cardiovascular challenge and help improve endurance. By raising the heart rate and increasing blood flow, this exercise can help improve overall cardiovascular fitness.

Mistakes to Avoid When Performing Push-ups with Rotation

Not Maintaining a Stable Plank Position

It is vital to keep the body straight from head to toe and engage the core muscles to prevent the hips from sagging or lifting too high during the push-up with rotation. If the hips shift, the targeted muscles may not be fully engaged, and the risk of injury may also increase.

Rushing Through the Exercise

Maintaining control and proper form throughout the push-up with rotation is essential. Avoid rushing through the routine and take the time to ensure that each repetition is performed with proper form.

Not Rotating Enough

To fully engage the muscles and reap the benefits of the rotational element, it is crucial to rotate fully to each side during the push-up with rotation. Make sure to reach the hand toward the sky and extend the body to one side before returning to the starting position.

Placing the Hands Too Close Together

It is essential to place the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart to ensure proper form and engagement of the chest, triceps, and shoulders during the push-up with rotation. However, placing the hands too close together may cause a loss of balance and may not fully target these muscle groups.

Final Thoughts

Push-ups with rotation are a challenging and effective exercise that can help improve upper body strength, stability, and flexibility. By adding a rotational element to the classic push-up, this exercise targets multiple muscle groups and can provide numerous benefits to the fitness routine.

Just be sure to maintain proper form and avoid common mistakes to get the most out of this exercise.

References

1. Ebben WP, Wurm B, VanderZanden TL, Spadavecchia ML, Durocher JJ, Bickham CT, Petushek EJ. Kinetic analysis of several variations of push-ups. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2011 Oct 1;25(10):2891-4.

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.
inspire us logo
Inspire US serves as an informational hub for people looking to start their fitness journey.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information being shared is for educational purposes only. You must consult with a medical professional before acting on any content on this website.
Copyright © Inspire US 2023