Push Up 101: The Best Guide

Perfect your push ups.

If you’re looking for a super-simple, no-equipment exercise that builds incredible strength and tones your chest, shoulders and core, look no further than the push up.

Push ups are one of the most basic yet effective bodyweight moves you can do.

You don’t need any special equipment (or even space) to perform this movement—all you need is your own bodyweight. That’s why they’re such an easy way to exercise when you’re traveling or on the go.

push up

Learning how to do a proper push up is an important skill that will help build strength and muscular stamina in your upper body.

What is a Push Up?

A push up is a bodyweight exercise that involves pushing your bodyweight up and down from the floor whilst the body stays in a straight line.

It’s a great exercise for beginners, but it also works multiple muscles at once, including the chest, shoulders and triceps.

How do You do a Push Up?

  • Lay on your stomach, with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms either facing forward or turned slightly outwards.
  • Place your feet close together.
  • Inhale and tense your core, glutes and back.
  • Maintain a straight spine.
  • Press your body upwards until your arms are fully extended.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower yourself down until the top of your chest touches the floor.
  • Exhale.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Muscles Worked by the Push Up

The push up is a great exercise for strengthening your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and abs.

The muscles that are used in the push up include the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, triceps brachii (long head), deltoids (anterior and medial), coracobrachialis and trapezius.

While there are many variations of push ups out there such as incline/decline push ups or hand placement variations like diamond push ups and wide grip push ups; the standard traditional version works fine too!

Benefits of the Push Up

Not only will they help you build muscle and strength but they can also help improve your posture.

Push ups are one of the most effective exercises for building upper body strength and toning your pectorals (chest).

They can also help with strengthening other muscle groups such as your arms and shoulders.

Along with this comes improved balance, since push-ups are an unstable type of bodyweight exercise. They require you to stabilise yourself throughout the movement by engaging multiple joints simultaneously.

How Can You make Push Ups Harder?

The best way to make your push ups harder is to raise the feet onto some kind of platform, to add weight to your body to increase the resistance, or both.

Incline Push Ups are a great way of making push ups more challenging as they increase the degree of difficulty while still maintaining proper form.

How Can You make Push Ups Easier?

If you’re having trouble with the push up, make it easier by modifying the exercise. Here are some ways to reduce the difficulty of a standard push up:

  • Use a chair to get into position and lower yourself back down by lowering your knees to touch the floor.
  • Hold onto a table or bench, and perform the exercise in a more vertical position. This modification can also be done against a wall as well.
push up

How to Do Your First Push Up

So, you want to give push-ups a try, huh? Great! You’re in the right place. The first step is to get yourself into the plank position.

This means getting into a push-up stance with your hands underneath your shoulders and feet together on top of each other. Make sure that your back is straight, with no sagging or arching whatsoever—this will help protect against injury and make sure that you’re performing the exercise correctly. If this feels too difficult, lower down onto all fours so that your weight is more evenly distributed across all four points of contact (hands and knees).

Once you feel comfortable in this position, it’s time for the fun part: lowering yourself down towards the floor until your chest touches the earth.

From here, reverse the motion and bring yourself back up. Repeat as many times as needed.

Are Push Ups Good for Beginners?

Push ups are a great way to build strength, muscle, endurance and balance for beginners.

They also improve coordination. Plus, they can be done anywhere.

Push Up Technique Tips

  • Keep your back straight and your feet together.
  • Your hands should be shoulder width apart.
  • Look straight ahead with your head in a neutral position.
  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, keeping them close to your body as you lower yourself down and push yourself back up again.

Push Up Alternatives

If you’re not able to do a regular push-up, or if the classic form is too challenging for you, there are alternatives. There are also alternatives that are harder than regular push ups.

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press
  • Decline Barbell Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

Push Up Variations

  • Push ups with a weight
  • Push ups on a medicine ball
  • Push ups with resistance band
  • Suspension trainer push ups: use suspension training straps or bands to perform this variation by placing one foot in each strap and then performing regular push ups as usual
  • Diamond push ups
  • Narrow push ups
  • Clapping push ups
  • Ring push ups

It’s also possible to combine different variations into one workout by completing multiple sets of each variation.

Why are Push Ups So Hard?

Push ups are hard because they’re simple and require you to shift a great deal of your bodyweight.

Basic push ups require no equipment and can be performed anywhere, making them one of the best exercises for both beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts alike. Push ups also work your entire body at once, making them a great full-body exercise.

What are the Disadvantages of Push Ups?

Unfortunately, push ups aren’t a one-size-fits-all exercise. They can be hard on your wrists, elbows and shoulders in particular if you have existing injuries.

  • Wrist Pain: If you’re doing them right with a wide grip (your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width), your wrists should line up perfectly with the rest of your forearm when doing pushups. Your wrist should not bend back over your hand or behind you as you lower to the floor and raise yourself back up again.
  • Elbow Pain: If you have issues with elbow pain while doing pushups (also called “medial epicondylitis”), they may be caused by an imbalance in muscular strength with the joints, tendons and ligaments. To fix this issue, try using a reduced range of motion and building it up gradually as you get stronger.

Common Push Up Mistakes

There are a number of different ways you can fail to perform push ups correctly. Here are some common mistakes:

  • Dropping your hips: This is one of the most common errors people make when doing push ups, and it’s easy to see why—it makes it easier. But this can lead to other problems later on in your workout, so try not to let yourself drop your hips during a set of push ups.
  • Not engaging your core: Many exercises (like squats) require that you engage your core muscles in order for them to be effective at strengthening those areas, but push ups tend not to emphasize abdominal strength as much as some other moves do—which means that many people neglect their abs when doing these exercises. Make sure to always keep your core tight at all times.

How Do I Get Better at Push Ups?

The best way to get better is to practice them. Use a chair, a box, a bench, wall or table if you can’t do them on the floor. If you have access to equipment such as bars and benches and machines at the gym then that’s great. But if not, there are plenty of other options:

  • Use a limited range of motion
  • Only perform the lowering part
  • Use bands to help you

Do Push Ups Build Muscle?

Push ups are a great way to build muscle, especially if you want to focus on your chest and arms.

They are a compound movement, meaning they engage multiple muscle groups at the same time. You can do them anywhere such as your home or in the office, which makes them convenient for anyone to do.

They activate many muscles including: quads; glutes; hamstrings; lower back extensors; spinal erectors (lower); trapezius (upper back); rhomboids; deltoid (shoulder) capulars

Do Push Ups Build Strength?

Yes, push ups do build strength.

The exercise is a great tool to build upper-body strength and can help you gain muscle in your chest, shoulders and triceps while also strengthening your core.


This movement is a great way to build upper body strength and improve your upper body muscular endurance.

If you’re looking to increase the number of push ups you can do, start with a few sets of 8-10 reps every second day, or as many as you can comfortably do without stopping.

The key is consistency.

Try doing them every other day until you feel strong enough to add more sets. If it’s still too hard for now, just focus on holding yourself in proper form while lowering your chest (but not touching) the floor during each rep. This will strengthen your core muscles so they support better movement patterns down the line.

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