Incline push-ups are a strength training exercise that target the muscles of the chest, fronts of the shoulders and the triceps. Perform them like a regular push-up, but place your hands on an elevated surface, rather than on the floor. Incline push-ups may be incorporated as part of an upper body resistance training program, in circuit training or in boot camp-style classes.
The chest is made up of just two muscles, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor explains Fit Step. While you do not have upper and lower chest muscles, you can use exercises to target different fibers of the chest. The incline push-up targets the lower portion of the pectoralis major which helps improve the function of moving the arm to and from the center of the body, such as in a fly.
Incline push-ups performed on a higher surface can reduce stress on the body and make the push-up more manageable for people who do not have the strength to do a classic push-up. Perform incline push-ups at an 80 degree angle at first and gradually decrease the angle as you become stronger--going to 60, 45 and 30 degrees suggests Lou Schuler in “The New Rules of Lifting for Women.”
You can perform incline push-ups almost anywhere--at the gym, at home off a kitchen counter or a coffee table or outside on a park bench or stair step. Incline push-ups may also be made progressively harder by performing them off an unstable surface like a stability ball or bosu trainer, a piece of equipment that looks like a stability ball with one flat side.
Performing more than 12 repetitions of any push-up, including the incline push-up, builds muscular endurance notes "Men’s Fitness" in November 2002. Incline push-ups also train the fibers in the muscle responsible for balance—especially if you hold the incline push-up in the descended position for 20 seconds or more. Incline push-ups, along with classic push-ups and decline push-ups, increase blood flow to the upper body, helping to decrease post exercise soreness.