Counter Pushups Vs. Knee Pushups

Man doing pushups

Although an effective upper-body strengthener, pushups are not an easy exercise. The basic pushup with only feet and hands on the floor is an intermediate to advanced exercise. If you are just beginning your workout routine, recovering from an injury or are looking for exercise variety, bent knee and countertop pushups offer a solution. Both types strengthen your upper body, have rehabilitative benefits and are performed without equipment. As with any workout routine, speak with your doctor regarding the safety of pushups for your body.


The counter pushup uses a waist-high countertop or desk. Position your hands on the desk at a distance slightly wider than your shoulders. Step your feet approximately two to three feet from the desk. Tighten your stomach and straighten your spine so your body forms a line from your head to your feet. Inhale, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the counter. Exhale, straighten your arms and return to the start position.

Bent Knee

Perform the bent-knee pushup on the floor. Begin on your hands and knees. Place your palms flat on the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders. Slide your knees backward as you press your hips toward the floor until you form a straight line from your head to your knees. Inhale, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Exhale, straighten your arms and return to start position. Keep your stomach tight as you perform the pushup to protect your back. Keep your gaze at the floor to protect your neck.


Both types of pushups improve strength in your chest, triceps, backs of the upper arms and shoulders. The muscles across your upper back are used to stabilize your shoulders. The muscles in your core contract to stabilize your back. The countertop pushup shifts the focus of your chest strength to your lower pectoral area. Because both exercises improve muscle strength, allow for one to two days rest in between workouts for muscle repair.


When using pushups in progression, begin with the countertop variation. The counter pushup is easier than the bent-knee pushup. Part of the reason for this is the way gravity pushes down on your body. During the exercise, your feet or knees are the axis upon which the movement occurs. Your center of gravity provides the resistance for the pushup. A countertop pushups presents a smaller center of gravity, which equals less resistance. As your strength improves, progress to the bent-knee pushup.