How to do a Correct Push-Up

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The great thing about push-ups is that you can do them anywhere. They require little space and no special equipment. Not only that, push-ups can be modified so any level athlete – from beginner to advanced – are able to do them and feel challenged.

When you are doing any type of pushing movement, like a bench press or a push-up, you are targeting your chest, shoulders and tricep muscles. Push-ups also strengthens your core by stabilizing the abdominals and back. On a smaller level, doing push-ups will also work your quadriceps and hamstrings.

Because push-ups are a total body workout, you are pushing your body towards total physical exertion. Your muscles will feel fatigue and your heart will be pumping. This boosts your metabolism, so you burn more calories. Burning more calories means you get to eat more calories. Woohoo!

How To Do A Push-Up

  • Get into a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your hand should be angled in a way that feels comfortable to you (this is dependent on strength and experience. If your wrists feel pain, turn your hands slightly inward or do pushups on your knuckles instead of your palms (on grass or carpet).Your feet should also be positioned in a way that feels right and comfortable for you. For some, that means your feet are more than shoulder-width apart. Others prefer their feet touching. Note that the wider your feet are, the more stability you have when you do a push-up.
  • Think of your body as one plank of wood. Your body, from your heels to the crown of your head should be in a straight line. The hardest part to keep in line is your butt. People usually jut their butt into the air or sag their hips closer to the ground. Keeping your butt in the correct straight-line position requires your core to be engaged.
  • Your gaze should be slightly ahead of you as opposed to straight down to the ground. If done correctly, your chin will be the first thing to touch the ground, not your nose.
  • With your arms straight and core engaged, lower your body down until your elbows are at 90 degree angles (or smaller if you have the strength). If you are lowering all the way to the ground, your chest should be the first thing to touch the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Once you have lowered as much as you can, pause for a moment, then rise back to starting position.
  • Congratulations! You’ve done one push-up!

Modifications for Beginners

Wall Push-Ups

Place your hands on a wall wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Walk backwards until your arms are fully extended and supporting your weight. Keeping your body in a straight line with straight arms and core engaged, gently lower your body towards the wall until your nose almost touches the wall. Pause for a moment, then rise back to starting position.

Elevated Push-Ups

Just like wall push-ups, elevated push-ups are done with your feet on the ground, but your hands are placed on something above the ground, like a kitchen table or a bench.

Push-Up Variations

One Foot Push-Ups

Starting position is the same as a normal push-up, but lift one leg into the air. Lower down and rise as usual. Switch legs. This variation challenges your core to keep your body in balance as you move through the exercise.

Walking Push-Ups

Do one push-up. Walk your right hand to your left hand. Then walk your left hand out to your left so that your hands end up wider than shoulder-width apart. Do another push-up. Walk your left hand to your right hand, then walk your right hand to your right so your hands end up wider than shoulder-width apart. Do another push-up. Repeat until fatigued. This variation is more difficult than the normal push-up because it forces you to move your arms around in between reps.

Decline Push-Ups

Place your hands on the ground wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet on something elevated, like a park bench, coffee table or couch. Lower and rise with good form. This variation engages your shoulders and triceps at a higher level than a normal push-up.

Tricep Push-Ups

Keeping your arms glued to your side, rotate your hands outward. Keep your elbows tight against your body as you lower your body and rise again. Like the name suggests, this variation emphasizes working your tricep muscles.

Dive Bomber Push-Ups

This variation allows your hips to be out of line (your body will not be in a plank the entire. Starting position is like a downward dog in yoga with your hips in the air. Lower your body down, then pull your upper body through your hands and arch your back like cobra in yoga. Push into your hands and raise your hips until you are back in downward dog position.

Plyometric Push-Ups

Lower down like a normal push-up. When you rise back up into starting position, push your hands powerfully off the ground, clap, and let your hands fall back on the ground in starting position. The most physically taxing of all the push-up variations; just doing a few will wipe you out.

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