How to Do a Push-Up Correctly

A step by step guide to proper form when doing a push-up

Push-ups are a challenging upper-body, bodyweight exercise. They primarily target the pectoral (chest), anterior deltoid (rear shoulder), and triceps muscles, which means they’re exceptionally ideal for building total upper-body strength. 

Follow these six steps to ensure you’re using proper form (which makes the exercise more effective and, most importantly, will help you to avoid injury) while doing push-ups.

How to Do a Push-Up on Make A Gif

-How to Do a Push-Up-

1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands firmly on the ground so that they are a little bit wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Your fingers should face forward but you can angle your hands inward slightly if the position feels better for your wrists.

2. When you’re ready come up off of your knees by tucking your toes under and raising yourself up to a high-plank position. Ideally, your feet should be about hip-width distance apart, however, you can adjust them to a position that feels comfortable for you. The wider you place them the more stable you will feel. The more narrow your stance the more challenging the exercise will be.

3. At this point, your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Keep your neck straight by looking slightly ahead and your core tight by drawing your belly button into your spine. Make sure to never let your hips drop towards the floor or to push your butt up into the air. In the starting position your arms should be straight and steadily supporting your weight.

4. When you’re ready, slowly lower your chest towards the floor until your elbows form 90-degree angles or your chest touches the floor. It’s extremely important to maintain the straight line (from your head to your heels) that you formed in the starting position while lowering yourself towards the floor. Really focus on keeping your neck aligned (do not tuck your chin, but also don’t lift your head so much as to strain your neck), your core tight and your hips in place (do not let them drop or raise them up). During the downward motion, also focus on keeping your elbows relatively close to your body. Do not let them flare out excessively.

5. Pause for a moment in the downward position before pushing yourself back up into the starting position. Make sure to maintain the straight line from your head to your heels on your way back up, too.

6. Repeat the motion for as many reps as you can without compromising your form. (Five perfect push-ups are much better and way more effective than 10 performed poorly.)

Add this exercise to your regular workout routine to build upper-body and core strength. If you were able to do five the first time, aim for six or more during your next workout and continue progressing from there.

Related: Strength Training 101

Once you’ve mastered the basic push-up, try adding a new level of difficulty by performing the exercise on a decline.

To make the exercise less difficult, try dropping your knees to the ground or performing it on an incline.

See also:
How to Do a Squat Correctly

How to Do a Lunge Correctly

Thanks to Body Space Fitness in New York City for sharing their exercise space with us.