“Spiderman” Push-Ups Will Fire Up Your Core In The Very Best Way

This superhero move works the obliques.

Originally Published: 
How to do a spiderman push-up.

If you thought push-ups couldn’t get any harder, let’s talk about Spiderman push-ups. This tricky move is the perfect way to add variety to a workout, target new muscles, and, of course, introduce a whole new layer of difficulty to an already challenging exercise.

The Spiderman push-up variation is just like a traditional push-up but includes moving up a knee to your elbow, says Rachel MacPherson, an ACE-certified personal trainer and performance specialist with Garage Gym Reviews. “They’re called Spiderman push-ups because the movement is similar to how Spiderman looks when he climbs walls,” she tells Bustle.

The slithery, shimmying motion it’s as tough as it sounds. MacPherson recommends Spiderman push-ups if you’ve already mastered regular push-ups and want to increase the difficulty. They’re an ideal way to work your arms and shoulders, just like a regular push-up, and the added challenge will light up your core stabilizers, including the deep core muscles, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, and the muscles of your spine and back, she says. The obliques also get in on the action as you crunch your sides.

The Spiderman is also a good choice when you want to increase your stability as well as your shoulder and hip mobility, MacPherson says.

How To Do A Spiderman Push-Up

Here, MacPherson explains how to do a Spiderman push-up using good form:

  1. Get on the floor as if you are preparing to do a regular push-up.
  2. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lower down to do a push-up.
  4. As you lower, laterally bring up your right knee to your right elbow.
  5. Engage your obliques and abs to keep yourself steady.
  6. Keep your hips straight.
  7. As you push back up, return your right foot to the starting position.
  8. Repeat on the other side, this time bringing your left knee to left elbow.
  9. Do 2 to 3 rounds of 10 reps.

How To Modify The Spiderman Push-Up


“This is already a level up from a basic push-up,” says Becky Codi, MA, CFSC, RKC-II, DSPCC, the director of group and personal training at D*FIT Montclair. “So if you have trouble, spend some extra time perfecting that move first.” Keep your knees on the floor for a modified push-up as you build upper body strength, then progress to a standard push-up, and then move on to the Spiderman.

If you’re feelin’ brave and want to make the Spiderman push-up more challenging, go ahead and play with angles. “Take the push-ups up a hill or downhill,” Codi says. While you can look for a literal incline outside, another way to do this is with a workout bench that’ll elevate your upper or lower body.

Common Spiderman Push-Up Mistakes To Avoid

Codi warns against flaring out your elbows as you lower down. Instead, try to keep your arms tucked closer to your sides as a way to maintain good form. It’s also key, she says, to keep your entire core engaged throughout the whole motion, the same way you would during a plank.

However difficult it might be, avoid letting your back cave or your hips dip. “Use a slow and controlled motion,” MacPherson says. “Lift your torso up in a line without your back arching or curving.” If you start to lose good form — and feel like you might crash to the floor — that’s a sign to call it quits for the day or move on to another exercise, and get back to Spidermans once your energy’s restored.

Studies referenced:

Akuthota, V. (2008). Core stability exercise principles. Curr Sports Med Rep. doi: 10.1097/01.CSMR.0000308663.13278.69.


Rachel MacPherson, ACE-certified personal trainer and performance specialist with Garage Gym Reviews

Becky Codi, MA, CFSC, RKC-II, DSPCC, director of group and personal training at D*FIT Montclair

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