Instructions for Knuckle Push-Ups - Martial Arts Strength Exercise

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Instructions for Knuckle Push-Ups - Martial Arts Strength Exercise

This page will teach you how to do "Knuckle Push-Ups". Traditional martial arts instructors utilize this push-up in order to strengthen a student's fist and wrist as well as build triceps, chest and arm strength. Moreover, some martial artists believe that this training will toughen the skin around the knuckles in order to make the skin less likely to break/cut during practice or fights. This advanced push-up exercise is used by martial arts styles such as Karate, Kung Fu and Taekwondo. Other advanced push-ups include Clapping Push-Up, Eagle Claw Push-Ups, Elevated Push-Up, Plyometric Push-Up, Single Leg Push-Ups, T Push-Up and Triangle Push-Up (or Diamond Push-Ups).

Instructors that utilize knuckle push-ups believe that these push-ups can help to improve a student's punching power. They believe that the technique used in this exercise is more similar to a punch (versus a traditional open hand push-up) and it can toughen the striking area used in a punch. Moreover, they believe that it can generate stronger wrists and thus reduce the potential for wrist sprains during sparring/fights due to misaligned punches.

However, knuckle push-ups focus pressure on a smaller portion of the hand (the bony knuckles) versus traditional push-ups (which focuses pressure on the larger "padded" area of the palm). This can generate more stress on the small bones of the hand and thus potentially more training injuries. To reduce potential stress-related injuries, some martial artists practice knuckle push-ups on padded mats or use padded gloves whereas students at traditional martial arts schools often perform these push-ups on a hard wooden floor. All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized.

For instructions and videos focused on other exercises and additional push-up techniques (i.e. Triangle Push-Ups), please visit the main Martial Arts Strength Training section.

Instructional Video for Kung Fu Knuckle Push-Ups

Instructional Video for Kickboxing Knuckle Push-Ups


  • Most importantly only the first two knuckles (ie. index and middle knuckled jointed between the proximal phalange and the metacarpals) should be used for this technique.
  • Often times people rest their weight on the whole of the proximal phalange or on more than the first two proximal phalanges, this is extremely bad for wrist alignment.
  • Beginners should start in push up position with one hand open and one hand in knuckle position on a soft surface and rest their for a while, then switch. Once the practitioner is comfortable with both hands on a soft surface and can do knuckle push ups the same should be repeated on a soft surface.
  • If the knuckle push up is done correctly (as noted above) it relieves a large amount of stress from the wrist. This makes it better for the wrist, conditions the knuckles to the force, and allowed for a deeper more constructive elbows in push up.

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All rights reserved. For other terms & conditions, please read our legal disclaimer. This site is for informational purposes only. All martial arts techniques and fitness exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. If you have had an injury or are in pain, please see a doctor before starting or continuing any martial arts and/or physical fitness program.

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