How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra

Push-ups is likely to be 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 schooling in class, in a health check, or as a fast and easy strategy to get into higher form, many individuals are aware of hitting the deck and urgent away.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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The push-up is among the most basic body weight workout routines, accessible to anybody, wherever. Its usefulness as a check of higher physique energy and core stability make it a mainstay for bodily health assessments. Sadly, lifters generally regard the train as being “too fundamental” and never difficult sufficient.

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

How you can Do the Push-Up

The objective of a push-up is to decrease your self down in direction of the ground, graze the bottom, after which push again up. Bear in mind the phrase “gentle as a feather, stiff as a board,” from the levitating sport from traditional children’ sleepovers or traditional ’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.” All the muscle tissues — out of your head to your toes — are going to work to maintain your physique in a robust and secure place. When your entire muscle tissues are working collectively, you’ll be at your strongest and the motion will likely be at its best.

Step 1 — Start in a Tall Plank Place

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

Get on the bottom and help your physique along with your fingers and the balls of your toes. Preserve your legs and arms straight. Set your fingers immediately underneath your shoulders, nearly shoulder-width aside. You might have to be slightly wider relying in your body and arm size.

Squeeze your glutes and tuck your hips towards your stomach button. It will assist preserve your core from sagging. Preserve 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 secure than having a sagging core.

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

Step 2 — Pull Your self to the Floor

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

Don’t simply drop into the underside place. Take into consideration pulling your self down towards the bottom. You wish 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, intention your elbows at roughly 45-degrees between your toes and shoulders. Really feel muscular stress rising in your chest, shoulders, and triceps as you method the underside place. Decrease your self so far as your mobility permits, with the objective of touching the ground.

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

Step 3 — Press to Return to the High Place

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

When you graze the bottom along with your chest, or attain your lowest attainable depth, push via your fingers and toes to deliver your physique away from the bottom. Preserve your legs straight, however use the muscular stress saved head-to-toe to make your physique “gentle 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 enhance the entire time underneath stress and enhance muscle recruitment, which may enhance the muscle-building stimulus. (1)(2)

Push-Up Errors to Keep away from

There are lots of completely different errors that may occur in a push-up as a result of the motion entails coordinating your total physique from head to toe. Nevertheless, 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 through the train. For higher outcomes with much less joint stress, be sure you preserve your elbows at about 45-degrees. Don’t enable them to level sideways towards the partitions.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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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: While 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 will possibly drive your shoulders up towards your ears. By securing sturdy shoulders, your shoulders assist to maintain your elbows in place. Additionally concentrate on sustaining this sturdy 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 identical absolutely engaged place you want throughout many standing workout routines, just like the overhead press.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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When your core sags down and breaks the secure plank place, it’s an indicator that you’re not holding stress in your core. With this unstable place, the remainder of the motion will likely be out of alignment. It additionally places undesirable stress in your backbone, which may doubtlessly result in harm.

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

It will be more practical to have your butt “too excessive” if you are gaining energy with the motion, somewhat than have your core sag down and compromise spinal stability. Tuck your pelvis and rib cage towards your stomach button, as if doing a fundamental crunch. Maintain this sturdy core place as you concentrate on decreasing your physique as one unit. 

Advantages of the Push-Up

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

Higher Physique Power

Push-ups are probably the most full higher physique, body weight workout routines you are able to do. While not having any coaching gear by any means, you’ll be able to problem your chest, shoulder, and triceps muscle tissues, in addition to your core and hips.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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Your legs, and even your again muscle tissues, are additionally recruited as stabilizers to regulate your physique’s motion through the train.


Push-ups can construct muscular measurement, endurance, or basic energy. Every objective could contain completely different volumes (units and reps) or depth methods, however the push-up is a fast and efficient choice to coach for almost any objective with none coaching gear.

Relative Power

The push-up is an environment friendly strategy to construct, keep, or monitor relative energy — being “sturdy in your measurement” or having a excessive diploma of purposeful energy. As a result of it requires you to carry your body weight, the push-up can assist to make sure or monitor relative energy positive aspects as you construct muscle. This will even be one purpose why push-up capability has been related to basic cardiovascular well being. (3)

Muscle tissues Labored by the Push-Up

Push-ups are mostly recognized 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 answerable 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.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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The pectoralis minor is a supportive, stabilizing muscle positioned beneath the pec main. It performs a job in joint stability and is closely recruited because the shoulder blades transfer through 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, generally thought of “armpit muscle tissues” as a result of they run close to your underarm. This stabilizer muscle aids in maintaining your shoulders and scapula in a robust, locked-in place as your arms press and prolong throughout push-ups. They’re considerably recruited as your method lockout on the high of every repetition.

Triceps Brachii

Your triceps are manufactured from three separate heads — the lateral, the lengthy, and the medial. As a result of the triceps are answerable 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 should you carry out a comparatively close-grip push-up, versus utilizing a shoulder-width or larger 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 regulate arm motion in entrance of your physique. Throughout push-ups, the muscle tissues lengthen as they assist in controlling your descent. They contract whenever 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 energy and help together with your hips and decrease again. The abs are recruited to keep up a secure and environment friendly total-body urgent place. They don’t seem to be put via any vital 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 energy athletes to the overall inhabitants who simply need to have the ability to carry 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-Targeted Lifters

Whereas the push-up could not supply comparatively heavy masses, 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 strategy to enhance whole coaching quantity and depth throughout a exercise, which may result in improved muscle development.

Power Athletes

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

Basic Trainees

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

How you can 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 quantity and depth relies on your targets and talent.  In case you are extra superior, you’ll be able to both do extra quantity or you may make the push-up more difficult. When you’re nonetheless studying the motion, concentrate on racking up high quality repetitions as a substitute of pushing your limits.

Unweighted, Low Repetition

While you’re first studying the push-up and establishing fundamental energy within the motion, you don’t must do a ton of repetitions as a result of your kind will begin to break down from fatigue. Three to 4 units of 4 to 6 reps is an effective place to start out.

You’ll profit from performing just a few strong repetitions with good method to create good motion patterns, and slowly rising the quantity.

Unweighted, Excessive Repetition

Excessive-repetition coaching will be an efficient strategy to construct muscle with out placing your joints underneath any vital load. (8) When you’ve mastered push-up method, aiming to achieve muscular fatigue for two to 3 units of 25 or extra repetitions generally is 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 help place at some point of every set.

Weighted, Reasonable Repetition

Superior lifters, specifically, can profit from including resistance with a weighted vest, loaded backpack, or different different, and performing three to 4 units of 10 to fifteen repetitions. This can be a time-tested method, just like conventional weight coaching, which challenges the muscle tissues with vital time underneath stress 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 power to regress, progress, or simply produce other choices out there will allow you to have the ability to be taught push-ups or incorporate them into your current program.

Incline Push-Up

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

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

Whereas incline push-ups are a regression (simpler model) of the usual push-up, it will possibly nonetheless be progressed by steadily decreasing the peak you employ. You can begin by leaning on a wall at a really excessive, almost upright, angle and slowly progress your strategy to the ground.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

At house, 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 answer. A Smith machine can also be a wonderful strategy to make the train incrementally more difficult 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 rookies, however they’ll additionally present a unbelievable problem for extra superior lifters.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

A “destructive push-up,” merely implies that you solely concentrate on performing a gradual, managed descent (eccentric, or destructive, 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.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

Superior lifters, nevertheless, 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 be taught management of the motion, they assist to work on core stability and energy. Take not less than 5 seconds to finish the destructive section of the repetition. The longer it takes, the more durable will probably be, which in flip helps to construct higher physique energy. When utilizing a slower gradual pace, merely concentrate on utilizing correct kind with full core engagement and stability.

Single-Leg Push-Up

If you wish to make push-ups more difficult with out throwing weights in your again, simply take away a limb out of your base of help. By maintaining one leg raised within the air all through the train, you’re focusing your core to have interaction much more drastically to stabilize your total physique via your hips and dealing leg. Alternate the raised leg with every set to make sure balanced energy improvement.

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

Push-Up Alternate options

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


Dips are proper on the high of the checklist with push-ups, so far as body weight chest workout routines go. Compared to push-ups, dips are sometimes 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 carry 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. 

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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 should assist to lower the quantity of your physique weight getting used, however the altered physique angle will emphasize your triceps greater than your chest.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

Performing dips with resistance bands is a really efficient strategy to cut back the share of physique weight you carry through the motion, permitting you to progress steadily. Dips do require the next diploma of higher again mobility and shoulder joint stability, so take your time progressing the motion and all the time work inside a managed vary of movement.

Dumbbell Chest Press

The dumbbell chest press is a free weight different to the push-up. This fundamental train challenges all the similar muscle tissues — chest, shoulders, and triceps — with the simple development of added weight.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

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

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

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

Bench Press

The large, fundamental, barbell bench press is likely to be the most well-liked higher physique train round. It’s a really efficient different to the push-up and permits the usage of doubtlessly heavy weights.

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
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 a substitute of a bench).

How you can Do the Push-Up — Advantages, Variations, and Extra
Credit score: Morit Summers

Many individuals soar 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 house, they’ve ready themselves for the bench press with out even realizing it.


Why are push-ups so laborious?

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

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

Can I do push-ups on daily basis?

The easy reply is: Sure. The extra difficult reply is: Sure, however… don’t neglect to hearken to your physique and relaxation your muscle tissues as wanted. While you’re simply beginning to discover ways to do push-ups, performing 5 to 10 reps a day can assist to construct good patterns.

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

Nevertheless it’s worthwhile to just remember to don’t practice on daily basis with excessive depth and also you don’t practice to muscular failure. You’ll want to relaxation the muscle tissues and permit them to get well so that you simply don’t overtrain.

Get Pushin’ with the Push-Up

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


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  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. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.446
  5. Calatayud, J., Borreani, S., Colado, J. C., Martin, F., Tella, V., & Andersen, L. L. (2015). Bench press and push-up at comparable ranges of muscle exercise ends in comparable energy positive aspects. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 29(1), 246–253. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000000589
  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 energy and conditioning analysis, 32(3), 651–659. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000002345
  7. Harrison, Jeffrey. (2010). Body weight Coaching: A Return To Fundamentals. Power & Conditioning Journal. 32. 52-55. 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181d5575c. 
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