Sphinx Push Up Exercise Guide — How to, Muscles Worked, & Alternatives

tabata push ups

The sphinx push up variation puts the tension on your triceps muscles. 

Push-ups are an exceptional exercise for core and upper-body strengthening, favored by fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders. Interestingly, they also serve as a powerful indicator of health. A 2019 study revealed that the ability to perform push-ups significantly lowers the risk of heart attacks or strokes (1).

Among the many push-up variations, the sphinx push-up commands our attention in this discussion. Ideal for home workouts, this variation focuses on tricep development and introduces a unique stance that sets it apart from the traditional push-up.

This exercise guide illuminates the sphinx push-up’s distinctive qualities and provides a detailed tutorial on executing it precisely. Continue reading to uncover the advantages of incorporating this exercise into your routine and explore alternative tricep exercises for a well-rounded fitness regimen.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The sphinx push-up mainly targets your triceps, forearms, chest, and shoulders while engaging other muscles like your core and legs for stabilization. You can conveniently do this exercise anywhere, making it the perfect home workout. Compared to regular push-ups, your triceps take on more load when doing sphinx push-ups. 

Sphinx push-ups can be part of your high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength, hypertrophy, or circuit training. This is impressive for an exercise that requires only your bodyweight. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do the sphinx exercise with the correct form. 

  1. Get your body down into a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Your forearms should be flat on the floor, with your elbows tucked behind your shoulders at 90 degrees. In this position, ensure your knees and hips do not touch the floor.
  3. Keep your legs and back straight, and squeeze your arms, glutes, and core to help with your stabilization. This is your starting position.
  4. Next, contract your triceps to push your upper body upwards and straighten your arms.
  5. After fully extending your elbows and arms, bend your elbows to drop your upper body and return to the starting position to complete the rep.
  6. Repeat for multiple reps.


The sphinx push-up is an effective push-up variation for training your arms. When people think of the best triceps exercise, they think of diamond push-ups. The sphinx push-up offers a greater range of motion and a unique dynamic that explodes your triceps. Below are more benefits of this exercise.

Build Bigger & Stronger Triceps 

The way the sphinx push up loads up your triceps induces and impresses muscle hypertrophy in that muscle. This is important as most athletes focus on the biceps too much, causing an imbalance.

Reinforce Elbow Mechanics

Your triceps are responsible for movement in your elbows. If your triceps are weak, this movement can become limited and weak, leaving you more prone to injuries. Strengthening them with the sphinx push-up can help reinforce elbow mechanics and improve elbow mobility. 

Target the Core

Due to the higher placement of your hands, sphinx push-ups require more mobility from upper body muscles, including the core. As a result, your abs and obliques grow stronger to meet the isometric contraction that this exercise requires. It’s a great way to build your core while training your triceps. 

Better Push-Up Form

If you have poor push-up form due to tricep fatigue, the sphinx push-up can help. Regularly doing this exercise will help build and strengthen your triceps, improving your form for other push-ups. 

Carryover to Other Triceps Exercises

Many tricep-building exercises require strong triceps and core stability. The sphinx push-up strengthens these muscles and helps you improve your form for these exercises. 

Sphinx Push Up Alternatives

While the sphinx push-up is one of the best exercises for your triceps, it shouldn’t be your only routine. Research shows that varying your exercises can help you break out of a plateau and prevent training monotony (2). Below are three other exercises you can use to build your triceps. 

Diamond Pushups

Due to their stance, diamond pushups also activate your triceps. This routine is also great for your pecs and delts. They’re easier, too, so you can use them as a progression to the sphinx pushup. 

Bench Dips

Bench dips are a great way to train your triceps without necessarily having too much upper body strength. This bodyweight exercise requires a bench, but you can do it at home with a chair. However, they’re significantly easier and won’t challenge your triceps like sphinx pushups.

Skull Crushers

The skull crusher is another excellent exercise with mechanics similar to the sphinx pushup. This movement, however, requires equipment, and you can use a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells. Choose a weight that allows you to use the correct form rather than trying to overload on this exercise.


What are sphinx push-ups good for?

Sphinx push-ups are among the most effective exercises for building size and strength in your triceps. For more benefits of this routine, check the exercise guide above.

Is the sphinx push-up harder than conventional push ups?

The sphinx push-up is more challenging than your regular push-up. It’s one of the hardest variations of push-ups. However, the rewards this exercise offers your triceps and arms make it worth it.

What are the three main muscles used during a push-up?

The three main muscles used during a push-up are the pecs, delts, and triceps. The triceps do the most work for the sphinx push-up in this guide, but the other two muscles are also recruited.

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  1. Yang, J., Christophi, C. A., Farioli, A., Baur, D. M., Moffatt, S., Zollinger, T. W., & Kales, S. N. (2019). Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA network open, 2(2), e188341. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341
  2. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.