Deficit Pushups: How to Maximize Your Results

If you are looking for a way to challenge your body and get the most out of your pushups, then deficit pushups may be the perfect exercise for you. In this blog post, I will cover the benefits of doing deficit pushups, ways to choose the right deficit for you, how to ensure proper form when doing them, and how to add them into of your workout routine safely. Additionally, I’ll talk about common mistakes made, ways to modify them intensity based on your fitness level, and tips for increasing the intensity. With all that said, buckle up, and let’s dive right into the world of deficit pushups.

Table of Contents

What are the Benefits of Deficit Pushups?

When looking to improve your fitness, the humble pushup is often an underrated exercise. But the fact is that it is one of the best overall bodyweight exercises for building strength and improving performance in sports. One of the best variations of the pushup, in particular, is the deficit pushup. This variation requires a greater range of motion and special technique that is designed to target specific muscles and enhance your performance.

Enhanced Range of Motion

Deficit pushups require a greater range of motion than traditional pushups, which helps to tone muscles more effectively. This additional range of motion also helps to strengthen supporting muscles that can’t be worked during traditional pushups, while also targeting some core muscles needed to support postures and movements.

Moreover, the elevated surface affords more of an extended range of motion, which encourages you to focus more on your form and technique when performing a deficit pushup. This extra focus on form can improve your consistency in both training and performance and make it easier to develop a powerful and consistent result.

Improved Strength and Performance

Performing deficit pushups can also cause you to become more aware of any weaknesses you may have in certain areas of your body. For example, it might uncover any weak muscles in your arms, shoulders, or core, or issues with your lower body strength.

Fortunately, regularly performing deficit pushups is an effective way to build strength in your upper body and improve your physical performance. Increased strength leads to improved results with activities such as weightlifting, running, and swimming.

In addition, regularly performing deficit pushups increases joint flexibility and improves range of motion. This is due to the fact that the extra range of motion strengthens muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which is great for reducing inflammation or pain in the short-term, or connecting tissue injuries in the long-term.


In summary, deficit pushups are a great exercise variation that can really help you to take your training and performance to the next level. Through improved strength, range of motion, and focus on technique and form, the deficit pushup is one of the best exercises to help you become stronger and more powerful.

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Variations on a Deficit Pushup

If you’re looking to incorporate more variety into your chest and shoulder workout, then consider doing a deficit pushup. Deficit pushups challenge your core and upper body by working on your explosive strength and static ability. Here are some of the most popular variations you can do at home or in the gym.

Single-leg Deficit Pushup

The single-leg deficit pushup is a great way to add a balancing element to your exercise routine. Start in a pushup position with your hands slightly lower than your feet. Then, lift one leg and hold for a few seconds before lowering yourself down and pushing up again. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes to maintain balance. Make sure to switch legs after a few reps.

Plyometric Deficit Pushup

This variation emphasizes the explosive aspect of the training by using higher intensity. Start in the regular pushup position, and when you lower yourself, push up quickly while simultaneously clapping your hands at the top. For a more advanced level, try to clap in between each rep.

Isometric Deficit Pushup

For the isometric version, begin in the regular pushup position and then lower yourself until your chest and head touch the ground. Instead of pushing back up, hold the position for several seconds and then return to the starting position. You’ll be focusing on your static strength and balance.

Weighted Deficit Pushup

A weighted deficit pushup is an excellent way to increase resistance and get more of an effect on your muscle groups. Add a weight plate or dumbbell if you have access to them, and be sure to focus on keeping your core tight as you lower yourself down.

Medicine Ball Deficit Pushup

Adding a medicine ball to create a spinning movement while doing the deficit pushup can be a great challenge. Start in the regular pushup position and then add a medicine ball to one side of your body. As you lower yourself, shift the ball to the opposite side, and turn your torso to get an even spin.

Single Arm Deficit Pushup

Focus on one arm at a time and boost your core engagement when you try the single arm deficit pushup. Begin in the regular pushup position and move your dominant arm behind your back. Focus on keeping your core tight and squeezing your glutes for stability.

Plank Deficit Pushup

Challenge your glutes, hamstrings, and core with the plank deficit pushup. Begin in a regular pushup position and then lift one leg off the ground, slightly bent. As you lower yourself, keep your leg raised and squeeze your glutes to maintain the form.

Alternating Deficit Pushup

Adding difficulty while improving coordination with the alternating deficit pushup. Start in the regular pushup position and then lower your right arm first into the pushup position. After, lift your right arm and lower your left arm. Lift your left arm and repeat on the right side.

Box Deficit Pushup

If you’re looking to increase the range of motion and target different muscle groups, consider the box deficit pushup. Begin in the regular pushup position and then place your hands on a box or small raised bench. As you lower yourself, make sure to keep your shoulder blades retracted and core tight.

Resisted Deficit Pushup

Using a resistance band can be a great way to increase stability and focus on the eccentric portion of the movement. Anchor one end of the band onto a fixed object and loop the opposite end around your back. Grip it firmly as you lower yourself down and focus on engaging your pectoral muscles.

With all of these variations on the deficit pushup, you can now have a more dynamic and stimulating chest and shoulder workout. Remember to always keep your form in check, focus on your breathing, and take the necessary rest between sets.

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Choosing the Right Deficit for You

Deficit pushups are a great way to challenge your strength, agility and core stability. As their name implies, deficit pushups involve elevating your hands to a certain height and then pushing your body up off the ground. The higher your deficit, the more strain you’ll put on your muscles.

As with any exercise, it is important to begin at the right level of difficulty for your current fitness level. If you’re new to deficit pushups, you’ll want to choose a lower deficit to start with. An experienced athlete, on the other hand, may be able to start with a higher deficit. Here are some tips to help you choose the right deficit.

Practicing the Right Form

When it comes to performing deficit pushups, proper form is key. Start by placing your hands flat on the ground with your arms extended and your chest slightly over the elevated surface. Stretch your legs out straight behind you and then lower your body until your chest nearly touches the elevated surface. Once you have reached the desired depth, press back up until your arms are extended again.

It’s important to focus on maintaining a tight core and keeping your hips parallel to the ground. If you experience any discomfort in your joints, stop the exercise immediately and adjust your form as needed.

Gradually Increasing the Height

Once you are comfortable with the standard deficit pushups, it is time to gradually increase the height of the elevated surface. Start by increasing the height by 1-2 inches and mastering the form before moving onto greater heights. This will avoid any unnecessary strain on your body and increase the effectiveness of the exercises.

When increasing heights, be sure to pay attention to your body’s limitations. If you find that the higher elevations are too difficult or cause pain, reduce your deficit and focus on mastering the form with the lower height.

Push Yourself

The key to successful deficit pushups is to challenge yourself by pushing your limits. As your deficit increases, you will find that the exercise will become significantly more difficult. However, with perseverance, the results are worth it. Not only will you strengthen your muscles, but you will also improve your posture and core stability.


The appropriate deficit height for each person can vary depending on their fitness level. An advanced athlete may be able to start with a four-inch deficit, while someone just getting into deficit pushups may start with a two-inch deficit.

If you are a beginner, it is important to start small. A one-inch deficit is a good starting point. Once you are comfortable with this height, you can gradually increase it by 1-2 inches until you reach the desired difficulty level.

Tips and Safety Procedures

When performing any type of exercise, safety should always be a top priority. To ensure your safety, it is important to be aware of your body’s limitations and to increase your height slowly. Additionally, it is always a good idea to have spotters nearby in case you need any assistance.

Investing in a good pair of gym gloves is also a good idea. These gloves will help protect your hands and wrists, which are especially vulnerable during deficit pushups.

By following these tips and maintaining proper form, you should see great results with your deficit pushups. Good luck, and most importantly, have fun with it!

deficit pushups

Ensuring Proper Form When Doing Deficit Pushups

Most people struggle with getting their pushup form correct, especially when starting out a new exercise – like deficit pushups. The proper form can help you engage your muscles properly and get the most out of this exercise. Here are some tips on ensuring proper form while doing deficit pushups.

Start With Your Hands on a Raised Surface

To start this exercise, your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a raised surface, such as a couple of books. This will make the exercise more challenging and help to increase the range of motion.

Keep Your Elbows Tucked Close to Your Body

It’s important to keep your elbows close to your body when completing deficit pushups. By doing so, you’ll ensure that the strain is taken off the shoulder joint and you’ll be able to engage the deep muscles of your upper body.

Make Sure You Push Up Fully

When doing deficit pushups, it’s important to make sure that you reach the full range of motion. Try to get as close to the ground as possible in order to make sure your deep muscles are being worked and that you’re getting the benefit of the exercise.

Keep Your Core Engaged

To make sure you’re engaging the correct muscles and getting the most out of deficit pushups, be sure to keep your core engaged. Not doing so can lead to lower back strain and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

Avoid Flaring Your Elbows Out

Flaring your elbows away from your body can place unwanted strain on the shoulder joint and reduce the effectiveness of your exercise. Even a slight flare can throw off your shoulder and joint alignment, so make sure to keep your elbows tightly tucked and at a 45-degree angle to the floor while doing deficit pushups.

See an Example of Proper Form

If you’re having trouble visualizing the proper form, take a look at the video of Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes demonstrating perfect form of the deficit pushup. His post-workout video can inspire anyone to get in shape and start doing deficit pushups the correct way.

Doing deficit pushups correctly is essential for getting the most benefit from this exercise, and all the tips mentioned above should help you achieve proper form. Following these tips will also reduce your risk of injury, which is always a plus. So have fun and get to pushing up!

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Adding Deficit Pushups Into Your Workout Regimen

Are your basic workouts feeling stale? You may want to consider adding deficit pushups to your routine. Deficit pushups are an advanced variation of a standard pushup where you raise up your hands, creating an intense workout that engages more muscles. They also challenge your current strength and add to your exercise arsenal.

Increase in Intensity and Challenge

Deficit pushups are an advanced exercise that add an increase in intensity to any workout. With your hands raised, your body is forced to work harder to perform the same number of repetitions. The degree of the challenge increases with the additional range of motion, balance, and coordination required.

Common Mistakes

When doing deficit pushups, it’s important to keep your body straight and maintain good form. Your core, glutes, and back should be engaged and your elbows should be tucked in close to your body. To ensure that your form is correct, consider getting a spotter who can provide feedback and offer corrections when needed. In addition, don’t do more repetitions than you can do with good form, as this can lead to injury.

Examples of Deficit Pushups

There are a variety of deficit pushup variations you can add to your routine. Explosive deficit pushups are when you do a normal pushup but then use explosive energy on your upward movement. Reverse deficit pushups involve doing a pushup but holding the downward movement and lifting one arm, then the other. Lastly, wide-grip deficit pushups are where you are pushing yourself up with your arms further than shoulder-width apart.

Important Safety Considerations

If you are incorporating deficit pushups into your exercise routine, it’s important to note that you should enlist the help of a spotter. The spotter will always check your form, including your grip and range of motion, to ensure you’re performing the exercise correctly. When spotting, stand or kneel behind the person performing the exercise and gently guide any contact points that are needed.

Workout Combinations

Deficit pushups can be incorporated into many different workout combinations for greater intensity. A popular combination is circuit training, where you combine multiple exercises of various levels of difficulty into a routine. They can also be part of supersets, which are two exercises done back-to-back until you’ve reached the desired number of repetitions.

Intensify Your Routine

You can make your workouts more challenging and intense by including other exercises along with deficit pushups. A great way to increase the difficulty is to include jump squats, mountain climbers, and burpees. You could also incorporate a range of other complex upper-body exercises like pull-ups, uneven pushups, and plyometric pushups.

Motivational Appreciation and Conclusion

Adding deficit pushups to your workout regimen can be a great way to challenge your body and push yourself to a new level. Not only do they work your muscles, but they also require mental strength and dedication. Deficit pushups definitely require some motivation which is essential to break through your own boundaries and exceed your expectations.

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Common Mistakes Made When Doing Deficit Pushups

When attempting deficit pushups, people of differing training backgrounds make the same mistakes. Some of these mistakes can lead to injury and should be avoided. Knowing what the biggest mistakes are can help you remain safe and improve your performance.

Not Setting Up the Proper Amount of Deficit

Beginners should not push themselves too hard by trying to build a large deficit. Smaller deficits will still increase the challenge of the movement and work the same muscles, just not in the same intensity as with a high deficit. Doing too much too soon can cause injury and put you out of the game for a while. Start with a smaller deficit such as a 1-2 inch lift and increase the difficulty over time as your strength increases.

Not Staying Tight

Deficit pushups require core strength and stability. Staying tight means your entire body is engaged while pushing up and depressing back down. This protects the surrounding joints and muscles in the upper body, making sure that your form remains as close to correct as possible. Flex your lats, engage your core and feel the pressure on your triceps and shoulders.

Focusing Solely on the Upward Movement

Many struggle to move in both directions equally when doing deficit pushups, making it hard to increase their strength and performance. You need to focus on both the upward and downwards motion and pay close attention to how the muscles are engaged. Make sure your entire body remains tight and press straight up, lower yourself fully and repeat.

Not Accounting for Differences in Mobility

People with lower levels of shoulder and chest mobility may struggle to keep proper form when doing deficit pushups. For these individuals, it is recommended to reduce the deficit or use a pad or bench to support the arms, reducing the range of motion. This will ensure you are still engaging the correct muscles without putting your body under too much strain.

Incorporating Weight Too Quickly

It can be tempting to rush into using weight when doing deficit pushups, but this increases the risk of injury by putting too much stress on unsupported joints and ligaments. Start out without any extra weight and increase it in small increments as your strength and form improve. This will help hone your technique while avoiding unnecessary risks.

Overall, knowing why certain mistakes are dangerous and how to avoid them is the key to doing safe deficit pushups. Be aware of your limitations and increase the difficulty gradually. Stay focused on the quality of your form and how your entire body engages throughout the movement. Keep your core tight and pay attention to your downward motion as well as your upward. Doing so will ensure your safety and improvement.

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Ways to Modify Deficit Pushups for Different Fitness Levels

Deficit Pushups are a great way for all fitness levels to start challenging themselves and increasing body strength. Modifying the surface level and adding extra resistance are two ways to change the difficulty.

Bodyweight Variation

Beginners can use their knees as the surface to do a Deficit Pushup. This can make the exercise more accessible to those with lower fitness levels looking to gain strength. Higher surfaces such as stairs or aerobic steps can be used to increase the intensity. More advanced fitness levels can use these surfaces to make the exercise more challenging, while beginners can still stick to the lower knee level option.

Partner-Assisted Variation

Partner-assisted Deficit Pushups are a great way to make the exercise more difficult. The partner can help by holding the hips and legs in place, adjusting the angle of the body, and providing verbal instruction. This is a great way for an athlete to challenge themselves and their partner, as well as build trust and confidence.

Band-Assisted Variation

Resistance bands are a great way to make Deficit Pushups more comfortable and challenging. The wider width of the band can help with guidance and stability, as well as provide an extra level of resistance. This is great for those with an advanced fitness level, as they will be able to push themselves while still getting the support they need.

Weighted Variation

Adding weight into Deficit Pushups can make it more challenging and help with progressions. Bosu Balls, dumbbells, weighted plates, and weighted belts are all great ways to add more weight. However, it is important that the athlete does not exceed their physical limits when adding extra weight. This will ensure that the exercise is safe and effective for the individual.

Ultimately, there are many ways to modify Deficit Pushups for different fitness levels. Whether it’s using a higher or lower surface, involving a partner, using a band for assistance, or adding extra weight, the options are endless. As long as athletes are aware of their capabilities and exercise in a safe and effective manner, they can adjust the difficulty to meet their needs.

Tips for Increasing Intensity With Deficit Pushups

I’m always on the lookout for ways to add intensity to my workouts, and one of the most effective exercises I’ve found for doing this is the Deficit Pushup. It’s an advanced variation of the classic pushup that requires greater core activation, stability, and strength. Here I’ll discuss some of the main strategies you can use to make Deficit Pushups as effective and challenging as possible.

Increase Hand Placement

To increase the range of motion of your Deficit Pushup, you can spread your hands out wider apart. This adds support and stability to the exercise, forcing your core to work harder and making the pushups more challenging.

Increase Pushup Depth

Pushups are most effective when your chest nearly touches the ground. Doing a Deficit Pushup with a deeper range of motion can give you a greater workout and isolate the specific muscles involved.

Implement Tempo Training

Adding resistance to your Deficit Pushups can be achieved by slowing down the tempo of the exercise. You can also pause at the bottom of each pushup to increase the resistance.

Add Accessories

You can also increase the resistance in your Deficit Pushups by adding weighted vests or chains around your body. This will help to build muscle and give you the challenge you’re looking for.

Utilize Super Sets

Adding other exercises to your Deficit Pushups can create fatigue and burn more muscle in less time. You can combine regular pushups, chest flyes and Deficit Pushups in a super set for an intense workout.

Incorporate Single Leg Pushups

Doing the exercise on one leg is an advanced movement that further challenges the body. This increases the difficulty of the exercise as well as improving your stability.

Example of a Deficit Pushup Workout

To capitalize on all of these strategies, you can incorporate them into a circuit training session. For example, you can start with Hand Placement Pushups for 30 seconds, followed by Chain Pushups (30 seconds), Tempo Pushups (30 seconds) and Weighted Vest Pushups (30 seconds). Then move on to a Super Set Pushup (30 seconds) and Single Leg Pushups (30 seconds, each side). Make sure to rest for 30-60 seconds between each exercise and repeat the circuit three to four times.

Using all of these different strategies will help to increase the intensity of your Deficit Pushups and give you the best possible workout.

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Deficit pushups are a great way to challenge your body, improve strength, and push yourself to new levels. However, they should be done with caution and attention to proper form, which is essential to decrease the likelihood of injury. By selecting the right height deficit, tracking your progress with reps and sets, and utilizing variations to keep the exercise interesting, you can create an effective and demanding workout. Furthermore, different levels of intensity can be achieved by adjusting the height of the deficit, increasing reps and sets, and trying modifications and challenging variations. Ultimately, deficit pushups can be a great addition to any workout routine, helping you to tone and build strength in your upper body muscles.

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