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Tips on how to Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra

Tips on how to Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra

How to Do the Push-Up — Benefits, Variations, and More

Push-ups is perhaps one of many few workout routines that most individuals on the planet have carried out (or tried to carry out). Whether or not it’s as a part of bodily training at school, in a health check, or as a fast and easy method to get into higher form, many individuals are conversant in hitting the deck and urgent away.

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The push-up is likely one of the most basic body weight workout routines, accessible to anybody, anyplace. Its usefulness as a check of higher physique power and core stability make it a mainstay for bodily health assessments. Sadly, lifters typically regard the train as being “too primary” and never difficult sufficient.

Right here’s a refresher on why the basic push-up ought to be a part of your coaching plan, whether or not you’re new to health or a lifelong lifter.

Tips on how to Do the Push-Up

The aim of a push-up is to decrease your self down in direction of the ground, graze the bottom, after which push again up. Consider the phrase “mild as a feather, stiff as a board,” from the levitating recreation from basic children’ sleepovers or basic ’90s teenage witch motion pictures.

For an environment friendly push-up, your entire physique has to work collectively. It’s not simply “a chest train.” The entire muscle tissues — out of your head to your toes — are going to work to maintain your physique in a strong and steady place. When your entire muscle tissues are working collectively, you’ll be at your strongest and the motion will probably be at its best.

Step 1 — Start in a Tall Plank Place

person in gym performing push-up plank
Credit score: Morit Summers

Get on the bottom and assist your physique along with your arms and the balls of your ft. Hold your legs and arms straight. Set your arms straight below your shoulders, nearly shoulder-width aside. You might should be a bit wider relying in your body and arm size.

Squeeze your glutes and tuck your hips towards your stomach button. This may assist preserve your core from sagging. Hold your ribs and hips in alignment. It’s okay in case your again finally ends up barely rounded, as a result of that’s extra steady than having a sagging core.

Type Tip: For elevated higher again stability and a stronger shoulder place, pull your shoulders towards your ft, away out of your ears. For thus many workout routines, it’s vital to lock your shoulders into place. Drilling this behavior with the push-up is one efficient method to study a powerful urgent posture.

Step 2 — Pull Your self to the Floor

person in gym doing push-up
Credit score: Morit Summers

Don’t simply drop into the underside place. Take into consideration pulling your self down towards the bottom. You need to be in whole management of your motion. Squeeze your shoulder blades collectively as you decrease your self towards the ground. Preserve a “stiff as a board” plank place out of your torso via your legs.

As your physique descends, purpose your elbows at roughly 45-degrees between your ft and shoulders. Really feel muscular rigidity rising in your chest, shoulders, and triceps as you strategy the underside place. Decrease your self so far as your mobility permits, with the aim of touching the ground.

Type Tip: Don’t permit your elbows to flare out as you decrease your self as a result of it might probably improve stress in your shoulder joints. You might have to modify your hand place to permit correct elbow monitoring. In case your fingers are pointed in direction of one another, your elbows will probably be extra more likely to aptitude. Place your arms along with your fingers pointed straight forward or barely outward.

Step 3 — Press to Return to the High Place

person in gym doing push-up on floor
Credit score: Morit Summers

When you graze the bottom along with your chest, or attain your lowest attainable depth, push via your arms and ft to carry your physique away from the bottom. Hold your legs straight, however use the muscular rigidity saved head-to-toe to make your physique “mild as a feather.”

Apply regular drive till your arms are absolutely locked and also you’ve returned to the beginning place. Pause briefly within the tall plank place and re-engage your core earlier than starting the following repetition.

Type Tip: You’ll be able to change the tempo (rep pace) to regulate the issue of the train. Shifting at a slower tempo will improve the overall time below rigidity and improve muscle recruitment, which may improve the muscle-building stimulus. (1)(2)

Push-Up Errors to Keep away from

There are numerous completely different errors that may occur in a push-up as a result of the motion includes coordinating your complete physique from head to toe. Nonetheless, the most typical errors normally happen at your arms and in your core. Right here’s what to be careful for.

Elbows Flaring Out

One frequent mistake is permitting your elbows to flare out in the course of the train. For higher outcomes with much less joint stress, you should definitely preserve your elbows at about 45-degrees. Don’t permit them to level sideways towards the partitions.

person doing push-ups on grass
Credit score: Patricia Perez R / Shutterstock

Your elbow place can differ barely relying in your particular person arm size and leverages, however letting your elbows unfold out towards your shoulders shifts extra pressure to your shoulder and elbow joints.

Keep away from It: If you set as much as start the train, lock your shoulders into place by “un-shrugging” and pulling them away out of your ears. When your elbows flare, it might probably drive your shoulders up towards your ears. By securing robust shoulders, your shoulders assist to maintain your elbows in place. Additionally concentrate on sustaining this robust shoulder place as you start pushing from the underside of the motion.

Sagging Core

One other main mistake is your core sagging down towards the ground. As an alternative of falling out of core alignment, preserve your rib cage and hips stacked evenly. This is similar absolutely engaged place you want throughout many standing workout routines, just like the overhead press.

person doing push-ups at home using handles
Credit score: Dmytrenko Vlad / Shutterstock

When your core sags down and breaks the steady plank place, it’s an indicator that you’re not holding rigidity in your core. With this unstable place, the remainder of the motion will probably be out of alignment. It additionally places undesirable stress in your backbone, which may doubtlessly result in damage.

Keep away from it: Many individuals have been advised too many occasions that their butts are “too excessive within the air” whereas doing planks, in order that they attempt to compensate and the other happens — they find yourself sagging to the bottom.

It could be simpler to have your butt “too excessive” if you are gaining power with the motion, reasonably than have your core sag down and compromise spinal stability. Tuck your pelvis and rib cage towards your stomach button, as if doing a primary crunch. Maintain this robust core place as you give attention to reducing your physique as one unit. 

Advantages of the Push-Up

Push-ups have a number of advantages together with basic muscular power, muscular endurance, core stability, and longevity. Right here’s a more in-depth have a look at why it is best to work on this easy and efficient body weight motion. 

Higher Physique Power

Push-ups are one of the full higher physique, body weight workout routines you are able to do. Without having any coaching tools in anyway, you’ll be able to problem your chest, shoulder, and triceps muscle tissues, in addition to your core and hips.

person at home doing push-ups on mat
Credit score: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

Your legs, and even your again muscle tissues, are additionally recruited as stabilizers to manage your physique’s motion in the course of the train.


Push-ups can construct muscular dimension, endurance, or basic power. Every aim could contain completely different volumes (units and reps) or depth strategies, however the push-up is a fast and efficient possibility to coach for practically any aim with none coaching tools.

Relative Power

The push-up is an environment friendly method to construct, preserve, or monitor relative power — being “robust to your dimension” or having a excessive diploma of purposeful power. As a result of it requires you to raise your body weight, the push-up will help to make sure or monitor relative power features as you construct muscle. This may occasionally even be one cause why push-up capability has been related to basic cardiovascular well being. (3)

Muscle groups Labored by the Push-Up

Push-ups are mostly identified for working the pectoralis muscle tissues (your chest), however push-ups work a number of different muscle tissues all through the physique.

Pectoralis Main and Pec Minor

The pec main is the first “chest muscle” and it’s chargeable for pulling the arms towards the physique’s centerline. The consists of two separate heads — the sternocostal and the clavicular — which work collectively throughout most actions.

shirtless person performing push-ups outdoors
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The pectoralis minor is a supportive, stabilizing muscle situated beneath the pec main. It performs a job in joint stability and is closely recruited because the shoulder blades transfer in the course of the train. The pec muscle tissues are stretched as you descend towards the bottom and so they strongly contract as you push up from the ground.


The serratus are discovered alongside your ribs, typically thought-about “armpit muscle tissues” as a result of they run close to your underarm. This stabilizer muscle aids in protecting your shoulders and scapula in a powerful, locked-in place as your arms press and prolong throughout push-ups. They’re considerably recruited as your strategy lockout on the prime of every repetition.

Triceps Brachii

Your triceps are fabricated from three separate heads — the lateral, the lengthy, and the medial. As a result of the triceps are chargeable for straightening your arms on the elbow joint, they’re recruited throughout all urgent workout routines, together with the push-up.

The triceps are extra considerably activated in the event you carry out a comparatively close-grip push-up, versus utilizing a shoulder-width or better hand place, which recruits extra pec muscle. (4)

Anterior Deltoid

These muscle tissues are discovered on the entrance of your shoulders. The anterior deltoids assist to manage arm motion in entrance of your physique. Throughout push-ups, the muscle tissues lengthen as they assist in controlling your descent. They contract once you apply drive to the highest of the motion. 


Your abdominals, operating alongside the entrance of your torso, act as a brace and supply higher physique power and assist along side your hips and decrease again. The abs are recruited to take care of a steady and environment friendly total-body urgent place. They aren’t put via any important vary of movement throughout push-ups. They work statically, holding one place from begin to end.

Who Ought to Do the Push-Up

Push-ups are for everybody — from bodybuilders and power athletes to the overall inhabitants who simply need to have the ability to raise their children. The simplicity and flexibility of the push-up make it an helpful train for almost all of individuals within the gymnasium.

Bodybuilders and Physique-Centered Lifters

Whereas the push-up could not supply comparatively heavy hundreds, except you add a weighted vest or different exterior resistance, its comfort and practicality make it an efficient selection for supersets throughout a chest exercise — instantly performing a set of push-ups after a set of dumbbell flyes, for instance.

This can be a easy method to improve whole coaching quantity and depth throughout a exercise, which may result in improved muscle development.

Power Athletes

Lifters who constantly transfer heavy hundreds with barbell or dumbbell workout routines can obtain comparable strength-building advantages from push-ups carried out with added resistance. (5)(6) This enables load-focused lifters to extend their power whereas decreasing put on and tear on their shoulders and elbows from repetitive workout routines.

Common Trainees

As a result of push-ups are a basic body weight train, they’re a wonderful method to construct purposeful, real-world power with fast, environment friendly coaching. (7) The power to carry out push-ups anyplace there’s room on the bottom (any room of the home, for instance) makes it an excellent train for individuals who discover it troublesome to schedule constant gymnasium time.

Tips on how to Program the Push-Up

The fantastic thing about body weight actions is that the vary of quantity (units and reps) and depth will be very broad. The amount and depth relies on your targets and skill.  If you’re extra superior, you’ll be able to both do extra quantity or you can also make the push-up tougher. Should you’re nonetheless studying the motion, give attention to racking up high quality repetitions as an alternative of pushing your limits.

Unweighted, Low Repetition

If you’re first studying the push-up and establishing primary power within the motion, you don’t have to do a ton of repetitions as a result of your type will begin to break down from fatigue. Three to 4 units of 4 to 6 reps is an efficient place to start out.

You’ll profit from performing a couple of strong repetitions with excellent method to create good motion patterns, and slowly rising the amount.

Unweighted, Excessive Repetition

Excessive-repetition coaching will be an efficient method to construct muscle with out placing your joints below any important load. (8) When you’ve mastered push-up method, aiming to achieve muscular fatigue for two to 3 units of 25 or extra repetitions could be a distinctive muscle-building stimulus for the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

On this high-rep vary, your abdominals are additionally considerably challenged from holding the static assist place during every set.

Weighted, Reasonable Repetition

Superior lifters, particularly, can profit from including resistance with a weighted vest, loaded backpack, or different various, and performing three to 4 units of 10 to fifteen repetitions. This can be a time-tested strategy, just like conventional weight coaching, which challenges the muscle tissues with important time below rigidity to advertise muscle development.

Push-Up Variations

The fantastic thing about push-ups is the extremely lengthy checklist of variations, which make push-ups appropriate for nearly everybody. Understanding the flexibility to regress, progress, or simply produce other choices out there will make it easier to have the ability to study push-ups or incorporate them into your present program.

Incline Push-Up

Incline push-ups let you do a full vary of movement push-up utilizing a “decreased” physique weight since you shift the leverage.

person doing push-ups with hands on bench
Credit score: Morit Summers

Whereas incline push-ups are a regression (simpler model) of the usual push-up, it might probably nonetheless be progressed by step by step reducing the peak you employ. You can begin by leaning on a wall at a really excessive, practically upright, angle and slowly progress your method to the ground.

person doing push-up in gym with hands on bench
Credit score: Morit Summers

At residence, you should use sturdy counter tops, couches, or stairs to regulate your incline over time. On the gymnasium, utilizing a flat bench is an easy resolution. A Smith machine can also be a wonderful method to make the train incrementally tougher as you slowly transfer the bar down the rack towards the ground.

Damaging Push-Up

Damaging push-ups are one other efficient favourite as a result of, not solely are they nice for freshmen, however they will additionally present a unbelievable problem for extra superior lifters.

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person doing push-up on gym floor
Credit score: Morit Summers

A “adverse push-up,” merely signifies that you solely give attention to performing a gradual, managed descent (eccentric, or adverse, section) with out attempting to press your self as much as the beginning place. You’ll be able to “cheat” your self again to the highest by kneeling and resetting between every rep.

Person in gym doing push-up on knees
Credit score: Morit Summers

Superior lifters, nonetheless, can add a regular-speed press to the highest place or carry out a press utilizing the identical gradual tempo for an elevated problem.

Damaging push-ups assist to study management of the motion, they assist to work on core stability and power. Take no less than 5 seconds to finish the adverse section of the repetition. The longer it takes, the more durable it is going to be, which in flip helps to construct higher physique power. When utilizing a slower gradual pace, merely give attention to utilizing correct type with full core engagement and stability.

Single-Leg Push-Up

If you wish to make push-ups tougher with out throwing weights in your again, simply take away a limb out of your base of assist. By protecting one leg raised within the air all through the train, you’re focusing your core to interact much more drastically to stabilize your complete physique via your hips and dealing leg. Alternate the raised leg with every set to make sure balanced power growth.

When you’ve mastered single-leg push-ups, preserve each legs on the bottom and work on single-arm push-ups — arguably one of the superior body weight workout routines. If/when the time comes that single-arm push-ups aren’t powerful, it’s time for single-arm/single-leg push-ups. Actually. Elevate your proper arm and left foot off the bottom, carry out reps, then change sides.

Push-Up Alternate options

Some lifters nonetheless won’t be prepared for push-ups. Perhaps they dwell the place there’s no floor to press from. Who is aware of? Let’s discuss various workout routines that work muscle tissues equally to a push-up.


Dips are proper on the prime of the checklist with push-ups, so far as body weight chest workout routines go. Compared to push-ups, dips are usually more durable as a result of you’ll be able to’t push via the ground along with your legs. It’s additionally a barely extra “vertical” physique place, making you raise the next share of your body weight. To make dips extra accessible to a broader vary of the inhabitants, the train usually must be modified. 

person in gym doing dip on flat bench
Credit score: Morit Summers

Bench dips, utilizing a flat bench or sturdy chair, allow you to brace your legs just like performing incline push-ups. It can assist to lower the quantity of your physique weight getting used, however the altered physique angle will emphasize your triceps greater than your chest.

person in gym doing dips on bench
Credit score: Morit Summers

Performing dips with resistance bands is a really efficient method to scale back the proportion of physique weight you raise in the course of the motion, permitting you to progress step by step. Dips do require the next diploma of higher again mobility and shoulder joint stability, so take your time progressing the motion and at all times work inside a managed vary of movement.

Dumbbell Chest Press

The dumbbell chest press is a free weight various to the push-up. This primary train challenges all the identical muscle tissues — chest, shoulders, and triceps — with the easy development of added weight.

person in gym performing dumbbell bench press
Credit score: Morit Summers

The train is adaptable and will be carried out on a flat, incline, or decline bench. Dumbbells additionally permit the wrists to rotate freely, which may modify hand place for altered muscle recruitment or elevated consolation on the wrists and elbows.

person doing flat dumbbell bench press
Credit score: Morit Summers

You’ll be able to even do dumbbell presses whereas mendacity on the ground to restrict the vary of movement, scale back shoulder pressure, and improve triceps recruitment.

Bench Press

The massive, primary, barbell bench press is perhaps the most well-liked higher physique train round. It’s a really efficient various to the push-up and permits using doubtlessly heavy weights.

person in gym doing flat bench press
Credit score: Morit Summers

This staple train will be tailored, just like the dumbbell variation, with a number of angles and adjusted ranges of movement (like mendacity on the ground as an alternative of a bench).

person in gym doing barbell bench press
Credit score: Morit Summers

Many individuals leap to the barbell bench press as one of many first workout routines they carry out within the gymnasium. But when they’ve ever practices push-ups at residence, they’ve ready themselves for the bench press with out even realizing it.


Why are push-ups so arduous?

Push-ups problem the entire physique and require coordination and power from head to toe — out of your higher again and neck throughout your torso via your legs and into the bottom.

Push-ups are arduous for many individuals as a result of it requires lifting your physique weight off of the ground utilizing the direct power of your chest and arms, which are sometimes undertrained, particularly in freshmen. With time, apply, and inevitable power features, the train can begin to really feel simpler, extra managed, and way more pure.

Can I do push-ups every single day?

The easy reply is: Sure. The extra sophisticated reply is: Sure, however… don’t neglect to take heed to your physique and relaxation your muscle tissues as wanted. If you’re simply beginning to learn to do push-ups, performing 5 to 10 reps a day will help to construct good patterns.

You’ll be able to even do very low-rep units a number of occasions all through the day to profit from “greasing the groove,” or constructing power and method with excessive frequency coaching.

Nonetheless you want to just be sure you don’t practice every single day with excessive depth and also you don’t practice to muscular failure. It’s worthwhile to relaxation the muscle tissues and permit them to recuperate so that you just don’t overtrain.

Get Pushin’ with the Push-Up

Everybody can do push-ups, anyplace, anytime. From younger lifters to aggressive athletes to aged adults, push-ups will help to maintain your coaching plan handy and accessible so your physique stays robust. You’re by no means too robust, too skilled, or too new to hit the deck and gimme 20. Or 10. And even 5 excellent reps.


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  2. Hsu, Hsiu-Hao & Chou, You-Li & Huang, Yen-Po & Huang, Ming-Jer & Lou, Shu-Zon & Pei, Paul & Chou, Hsi. (2011). Impact of Push-up Velocity on Higher Extremity Coaching till Fatigue. Journal of Medical and Organic Engineering. 31. 10.5405/jmbe.844. 
  3. Yang J, Christophi CA, Farioli A, et al. Affiliation Between Push-up Train Capability and Future Cardiovascular Occasions Amongst Energetic Grownup Males. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341
  4. Kim, Y. S., Kim, D. Y., & Ha, M. S. (2016). Impact of the push-up train at completely different palmar width on muscle actions. Journal of bodily remedy science, 28(2), 446–449.
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  6. Kotarsky, C. J., Christensen, B. Ok., Miller, J. S., & Hackney, Ok. J. (2018). Impact of Progressive Calisthenic Push-up Coaching on Muscle Power and Thickness. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 32(3), 651–659.
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  8. Schoenfeld, B. J., Peterson, M. D., Ogborn, D., Contreras, B., & Sonmez, G. T. (2015). Results of Low- vs. Excessive-Load Resistance Coaching on Muscle Power and Hypertrophy in Effectively-Educated Males. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 29(10), 2954–2963.

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