RTS Coaching: Push-up to Downward Dog


We’ve focused a lot on the push-up in recent weeks (and in case you missed it, you see what I mean here, here, here, and the big push-up article here).

With all of this focus on coaching and cuing, something I wanted to throw in this week was one of my favorite push-up variations of all time:

The push-up to downward dog.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

“Say what?!?!”

“Why are we covering lame exercises all of a sudden?”

“Mike – you do Yoga?!?!”

You’re going to have to trust me on this one. If you do this exercise, you know how powerful it can be.

And if you don’t – well, just take 2:19 seconds out of your day to watch this short video so I can explain myself.

As you can see, there’s a ton of benefits to using a push-up to downward dog in your program:

  • Like all push-up variations, you get a reach – which is awesome for opening up the backside of the thorax/trunk, as well as restoring a more optimal position of the abs.
  • You also get the side benefit of shutting off the posterior chain. Very extended clients/athletes struggle with this (especially the calf/gastroc), so by working on getting the knees straight and driving the heels down, you get an awesome stretch/mobilization on the backside.

Now a few quick tips to help ensure that your technique is on point:

  • Exhale to find your abs, and get into that 3-points of contact/neutral spine position.
  • Perform the standard push-up variation, focusing on getting a nice reach at the top.
  • After finishing the reach long, pike the hips up while you continue to push more vertically.
  • In the midpoint position, think about the following:
    • Continuing to reach long (don’t sag/hang on your shoulders!),
    • Flexing the quads/straightening the knees, and
    • Driving the heels down towards the ground.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat for the allotted number of reps.

Whether it’s in the warm-up, used as part of low-intensity circuits, or as a component of your resistance training program, the push-up to downward dog has a place in virtually everyone’s program.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

All the best


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  1. I get a huge stretch in my calfs when I do this and I am unable to touch my heels to the ground. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

    • Thomas – This isn’t wrong, and you’re doing it absolutely right! Don’t worry about range of motion for now – it will come. Just keep doing what you’re doing and it should loosen up!

    • Just have them move from the top of the push-up into the downward dog for now – that’s what I have many clients do initially!

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