How to do a Push-Up – Benefits, Proper Form, and Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: January 7, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.
How to do a Push-Up - Benefits, Proper Form, and Tips

The push-up is an excellent exercise for strengthening the upper body and core muscles without the need for equipment.

With multiple variations available, exercisers of any level can challenge themselves and perfect their form using this tried-and-true exercise.

It can easily be incorporated into a safe and effective full-body workout like bodyweight exercises or circuit training or used as part of a strength-building program to target specific muscle groups.

Though push-ups may take a bit of practice and patience in order to do them correctly, these classic moves are definitely worth the effort.

How to Perform a Push-Up

For you to get the most out of each activity, it’s essential to put your body in the best possible postures.

If your technique and posture are off, you’ll use fewer muscle fibers overall, which will make your session less effective than it could be.

Get on all fours and position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders while maintaining a small bend in your elbows to optimize power and explosiveness during a training regimen.

To get the most out of your workout, stretch your legs back until they are hip-width apart and you can balance on your hands and toes.

Step to Step Guide How To Do A Push-Up:

Step 1: Begin the push-up by starting in a plank position on the ground, facing down. Line your feet up evenly and keep your back, neck, and head aligned. Make sure your arms are straight and directly under your shoulders.

Step 2: Engage your core muscles and glutes to keep your body in a straight line from head to toe. Keep your elbows tucked close to the sides of the body and slightly bent as you lower yourself down toward the floor.

Step 3: Inhale as you slowly lower yourself until either your chest or chin touches the floor. As you lower yourself down, make sure to keep a tight core, glutes and shoulder blades squeezed together throughout this movement. 

Step 4: Exhale as you push away from the floor with enough force to bring you back up into the plank position that you started in at step one. As you come up, maintain tension in all of the muscles that were engaged while lowering yourself down. 

Step 5: At the top of the motion, squeeze your shoulder blades together firmly, keeping tension throughout all of the engaged muscles as well as in your arms which should be still slightly bent during this portion of the movement. 

Step 6: Repeat steps two through five for 10-15 repetitions for a full set of push-ups before taking a rest break for 30-45 seconds before continuing on with another set if desired. 

Tip: For those seeking more of an intense workout, feel free to add additional variations such as changing pace between reps or changing hand placement (wide arm vs narrow arm) within each set or between sets.

Also, try adding plyometric movements such as clapping or jumping between each rep for an even larger challenge.

Push-Up Benefits

A push-up is a great exercise for targeting several major muscle groups in the body. The primary focus is on strengthening the upper body muscles, such as the deltoids, pectoral muscles, triceps, and biceps.

Additionally, the abdominal muscles rectus abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques — are all utilized during this exercise.

Even the gluteal muscles and erector spinae, which support the back and spine, are engaged while completing a set of push-ups.

With continued practice of proper form coupled with consistency in performing push-ups regularly, those participating can reap many physical benefits.

From pushing open doors to grocery shopping and moving heavy furniture, pushing against objects is a daily activity for many of us.

A good way to increase functional strength for these tasks is by doing push-ups. Not only do push-ups directly target the muscles associated with pushing, but they also work the stabilizer muscles around the shoulders, helping to reduce the risk of certain injuries such as rotator cuff damage.

Besides improving strength and stability, push-ups may also provide additional health benefits; a 2019 study found that people who can complete 40 reps were less likely to experience cardiovascular events than those who stopped at 10 or fewer.

So not only are push-ups an excellent way to physically prepare yourself for everyday activities, they may also help protect you from long-term illnesses.

Push Up Common Mistakes

These common errors are the exact opposite of those on the list of acceptable forms below.

Hands Too High Above Shoulders

When it comes to push-ups, the most common mistake made is incorrect hand placement. To get the full benefit of push-ups, your hands should be below your shoulders and close to your body.

It can take some practice to master this technique as it’s much harder than it appears to keep your elbows close to the sides of your body.

To do a correct push-up, however, you need to generate full-body tension. To make sure you’re getting used to proper form and maximizing the benefits of push-ups, start with an incline variation using a bench, bar, or chair before trying out regular push-ups on the floor.

Shoulders Shrug Towards Ears

Packing your shoulders is something that can be extremely beneficial to help increase strength and stability.

It simply requires you to engage the muscles under your armpits, known as lats, in order to pull those shoulder blades away from the ears and into a more secure position.

While it may not be the easiest training technique to master at first, if done properly it can make all subsequent workout efforts much more successful.

So take the time and dedication necessary to get used to packing your shoulders; it will surely pay off with greater fitness outcomes!

Not Keeping Hips & Core Stable

Proper form and body alignment should be observed while performing a push-up. All movement should come from the arms and shoulders, while the head, neck, hips, knees, and feet must remain in a straight line without any movement.

If core stability is compromised or you are unable to hold a rigid plank position then push-ups are not recommended yet.

To keep your hips and core stable while doing a push-up squeeze your glutes slightly, contract your thigh muscles (quads), and contract your stomach muscles to prevent slouching. Doing this enables you to maintain balance and perform proper form for effective exercise.

Push Up Variations

Push-ups are a popular exercise choice due to their versatility and effectiveness.

There are variations of the push-up designed to help people at all levels of experience, so regardless of whether you are new to exercise or have been doing it for years, there is a variation that can help you reach your goals.

Furthermore, different variations target different muscle groups, empowering users with the ability to focus on areas they wish to improve.

Bent-Knee Push-Up

The bent-knee push-up is a modified version of the traditional push-up performed on the knees.

To ensure correct form and to target the correct muscles, it is important to maintain your posture while doing this exercise.

Keep your knees, hips, and shoulders in a perfect line, and avoid any bending at the hips.

Performing bent-knee push-ups will add variation to an individual’s workout routine and help increase strength and tone muscle groups that are often neglected.

Incline Push-Up

Push-ups on an inclined surface are a terrific approach to begin strengthening exercises.

Using the same push-up technique, lower yourself till your elbows are at a 90-degree angle while standing several feet away from a table or bench.

To get the most out of each repeat, make sure your core remains engaged throughout the action.

People wishing to increase their strength and fitness level without putting too much stress on their body might consider incline push-ups.

Stability-Ball Push-Up

The stability ball push-up is an advanced workout move that requires increased core strength.

To ensure safety while doing this exercise, make sure you have built up a foundation of regular push-up sets first.

Once you can confidently do around 20 basic push-ups, try the stability ball variation the additional core work will add extra challenge and effectiveness to your routine.

Decline Push-Up

The decline push-up is an intense variation of the classic push-up that is guaranteed to take your workout to the next level.

This exercise works all the major muscles in your arm and chest, as well as your core, for a comprehensive strengthening and toning workout it can also be tailored to people of any fitness level.

With adjustable height boxes, you can adjust the resistance to fit your needs and gradually build up strength over time.

As one of the most reliable exercises out there, this important variation of the traditional push-up should be part of anyone’s regular exercise routine interested in achieving their optimum fitness goals.

Clapping Push-Up

The clapping push-up is an advanced and very engaging plyometric exercise. It involves pushing up with enough force that one’s hands come off the floor, allowing one to clap in midair.

It requires a great deal of strength and skill if it is done properly, so it is not an exercise meant for novice exercisers.

Those who don’t have sufficient conditioning run the risk of getting injured while performing this exercise, so it is essential to build up the necessary strength and balance before attempting this routine.

Diamond Push-Up

The diamond push-up variation is a useful exercise for strengthening and targeting the triceps brachii.

Start out in a typical plank posture, drawing a diamond-shaped pattern on the floor with your hands.

Starting from here, lower your body until your chest is in line with the middle of your hands, then push yourself back up to where you were.

For optimal effectiveness and safety, keep your elbows close to your sides throughout each repetition.

You can strengthen your upper body as a whole and your triceps brachii in particular by doing this variation.

Push-Up With Lat Row

The push-up with lat row is a fantastic exercise to intensify your workout and train your back and core stabilizers.

In this exercise, you press against the floor like you would for a push-up, but you hold dumbbells with alternate width grips.

It’s a good method to tone both your upper and lower body and increase strength to lift one weight up to your chest when you reach the peak of each rep before dropping it to the floor.

Medicine Ball Push-Up

Push-ups with a medicine ball are a fantastic workout for strengthening the shoulder muscles and enhancing shoulder stability.

It exercises the shoulder in a special range of motion because you are executing the push-up with one hand on a medicine ball.

Roll the medicine ball between each hand after each rep to perform an alternate medical-ball push-up, which will intensify your workout.

Your balance will definitely improve with this method, and it might even help you avoid injuries.

Push Up FAQ’s

What muscles do push ups work?

Push-ups are an effective form of exercise that engage a range of muscles in your body, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.

These muscles experience resistance from the amount of weight being pushed in the push-up, leading to improved muscle strength when done regularly.

How to get better at pushups?

To get better at push-ups, form is key. Poor form will only make it more difficult to improve and may even lead to injury.

Focus on engaging your core muscles and positioning your arms correctly; ensuring your elbows are close to the body throughout the motion.

Utilizing the correct form with each repetition will help you isolate and strengthen the necessary muscles while maximizing your results. 

How long does it take to be able to do push-ups?

With dedication and practice, you should start to see results within a few weeks up to a couple of months.

As a sensible starting point, walking on an incline is recommended – this helps build the muscles needed for doing regular push-ups.

Once you’re feeling more confident with yourself, lower the incline until you are walking on the floor.

Ultimately, how fast you reach your goal is up to your hard work, commitment, and consistency of exercise habits!

How many push ups should I do a day?

As your body gets used to the exercise, you can slowly increase the number of reps and sets.

Aiming for 100 pushups or more in only 3-5 sets over time can certainly be achieved if the right amount of commitment and motivation is applied.

How do I add push ups to a workout routine?

Push-ups are a great way to strengthen your muscles during a workout, no matter what skill level you are on.

If push-ups are an easy task for you, they can act as a great warm-up exercise before you begin your routine or they can even be incorporated at the end of it.

On the other hand, if push-ups present more of a challenge for you, then 3 sets should be worked into your training schedule to develop strength.

Also, here is an excellent full-body workout that couples with push-ups. Including this combination of exercises in your regimen can result in toned upper body muscles, improved core strength, and a powerful cardiovascular system.

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