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How-To Do Pushups or Press-ups


How-To Do Pushups

Pushups don't progress if you only perform them on your knees. Learn how to set up and start doing full pushups to get the most benefit from this exercise.

Muscles worked:

  • chest muscles, or pectorals.
  • shoulders, or deltoids.
  • back of your arms, or triceps.
  • abdominals.
  • the “wing” muscles directly under your armpit, called the serratus anterior.

Lying face down on a mat, place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Hands can face straight up (with middle finger pointing straight ahead) and away from you or you can modify and turn them in slightly to help reduce stress on the wrist. My wrists get very sore so I do mine on my knuckles (I sound tougher than I am - it's just to stop the pressure). 

For feet, start with a wider stance for begins (it helps you maintain stability) and bring them together as you get stronger. 

Now, maintain neutral throughout your body in the plank position. 

Hips will be ever so slightly tucked under, lengthening the spine, butt clenched and belly button pulled to spine. Shoulders should be down (not in your ears). 

Your head should be looking slightly ahead of you, not straight down,  and if you’re the right alignment, it will be your chin that is the first part of your head to touch the floor, not your nose. Looking up helps you keep your body in line, but feel free to look down if that helps you concentrate more.

At the top of your push up, your arms should be straight and be able to support your weight and your elbows should be facing each other, not forward. You’re now ready to do a push up.

The movement

1. With your arms straight, butt clenched, and abs activated, breathe in and steadily lower yourself (without dropping) until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle or smaller.

Depending on your level of experience, age, and flexibility, 90 degrees might be the lowest you’re able to go - and that's perfect. Personally, I like to go down until my chest (not my face), hits the floor. You may need to work up to this. Remember to focus on lowering, not dropping down. 

2. Once your chest touches the floor (or your arms go down to a 90- degree angle), pause slightly and then push back up until you’re back in the same position. Breathe out as you come to the top of the movement. 

If you're just starting out, you may find that coming back up is really difficult - then don't. Focus on lowering with control for the first few weeks as you build coordination and strength.

Aim to do as many proper pushups as you can until you start to feel your form slip (even slightly); you are done for that set.

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