Perfected by boxers and martial artists, fist or knuckle pushups are an excellent way to strengthen your wrists apart from reaping all the benefits of a classic pushup. In this routine, the upper body is supported on the knuckles rather than the palms, which adds to knuckle strength and improves punching efficiency. However, it can benefit anyone looking for overall strength conditioning and a more stable core.

Knuckle pushups enhance the muscular stability in our forearms, shoulders as well as the back and the abs. This is particularly due to the decreased surface area occupied by the knuckles, which add greater pressure on the muscles in the upper body to maintain balance.

It also requires you to bend your arm slightly which gives your triceps are greater workout as compared to the traditional pushup. The most obvious benefit of knuckle pushups is to do with the wrists.

The pose demands that the wrists be held straight through the routine which means keeping the joint constantly stabilized. Over time, this leads to powerful wrists that help in a range of motions—from lifting weights to throwing a punch. For boxers, this is particularly beneficial as the constant contact of their knuckles against the floor strengthens the bones as well as toughens the covering skin.

Please only attempt the knuckle pushup on a padded mat, plush carpet or even better a rolled up towel, especially if you are a beginner. This exercise is not easy on your knuckles.


  • Get in a standard pushup position. Make sure your back is straight and your feet are shoulder length apart.
  • Make a fist with each hand one at a time, and place fist on the floor while still in pushup position. Focus on placing your body weight mostly on the first two knuckles.
  • Lower your body until it almost touches the ground and push your body back up, using your knuckles to hold your weight the entire time.
  • Don’t worry about the number of reps at first. Concentrate on getting your form right and maintaining your balance through the routine.

Did you know that India’s KJ Joseph once held the world record for the most number of knuckle pushups in a minute? The Kerala man who has several national records to his name, achieved this feat in 2015 with 82 pushups.

Place your thumbs on the ground to help stabilize your body if you are falling over or feel very wobbly. If your knuckles get excessively sore, stop immediately and let it heal for up to two weeks before trying it again. Over time, once you’re knuckles and wrists are stronger you can move on to a harder surface to increase the challenge.

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