Proper Push-Up Ultimate Guide: How To Do Push Ups With Correct Form – Push-up is one of the best exercises on the planet. It’s a foundational movement in strength training, and an exercise EVERYBODY should be doing regularly. However, it’s also an exercise that about 95% of people get wrong and do incorrectly. Fortunately, after reading today’s ultimate guide, you’ll know exactly how to do a proper push-up with correct form:
Here is a list of things you will learn from this article
- How to set up for a proper push-up (initial staging).
- How to do a push-up
- How do you train to do push-ups? (Where to start if you can’t do a push-up.)
- What are some different types of push-ups? (advanced push-up variations)
- How to get better at push-ups and lot more.
How To Set Up For A Proper Push-Up (Staging)
When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. Each push-up needs to be done with proper form so that your total reps measured from workout to workout are on equal footing. If you did 20 push-ups two days ago, and then today you did 25 push-ups by only going down halfway, sticking your ass up in the air, etc., it’s absolutely impossible to tell if you got any stronger.
Here’s How To Get Into Proper Push-Up
1) On the ground, set your hands at a distance that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Draw a straight line from your chest/nipple down to the floor it should be directly over your thumbnail. Depending on your strength and experience, your hands should be angled in a way that feels comfortable to you. For me, my hands are set up so that my middle finger points straight up and away from me.
2) To alleviate wrist pain (if you have poor wrist flexibility) do your push-ups holding onto push-up handles (so your wrists aren’t as compromised), or a bar: If you’re hardcore, you can do them on your knuckles (as long as you’re on a semi-soft surface like grass or carpet or broken glass.
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3) Your feet should be set up in a way that feels right and comfortable and in balance. For some, that might be shoulder-width apart. For others, it might be with your feet touching. Generally speaking, the wider apart your feet, the more stable you’ll be for your push-ups.
4) Think of your body as one giant straight line – from the top of your head down through your heels. Your butt shouldn’t be sticking way up in the air or sagging.
5) If you have a problem getting the proper form with your body, try this: clench your butt, and then tighten your abs as if you’re bracing to get punched. Your core will be engaged, and your body should be in that straight line. If you’ve been doing push-ups incorrectly, this might be a big change for you. Record a video of yourself to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
6) Your head should be looking slightly ahead of you, not straight down. I read somewhere that said “if you’re doing them right, your chin should be 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.
7) At the top of your push-up, your arms should be straight and supporting your weight. You’re now ready to do a push-up.
8) I want to draw special attention to that first step with hand position: nearly EVERYBODY does push-ups with their arms out far too wide and their shoulders flared. This is bad news bears. If I was looking down at you from above, your arms and body should form an ARROW, not a T.
WARNING: If you have been doing push-ups with your arms flared, doing them with proper form will be significantly more difficult!
How To Do A Proper Push-Up
Here’s how to complete one perfect repetition of a proper push-
With your arms straight, butt clenched, and abs braced, steadily lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle or less. Depending on your level of experience, age, and flexibility, 90 degrees might be the lowest you’re able to go. Personally, I like to go down until my chest (not my face), hits the floor. That way, I know I’m going the same distance each and every time. Try not to let your elbows go flying way out with each repetition. Keep them relatively close to your body, and keep note of when they start to fly out when you get tired. Once your chest (or nose/chin) touches the floor (or your arms go down to a 90-degree angle), pause slightly and then explode back up until you’re back in the same position. Once you get down like so for your push-up it’s time to…push…up. Do as many as you can until you start to feel your form slip (even slightly); you are done for that set.
How Do You Train To Do Push-Ups (Where to Start If You Can’t Do a Push-Up?)
Don’t worry if you can’t do a push-up yet. You need to start with an easier push movement, and work up to progressively more difficult types of moves that will eventually result in you doing true push-ups. We’ll progress from Level 1 Push-ups to Level 4 Push-ups:
1.Wall Push-Ups: Level
- Elevated Push-Ups
- Knee Push-ups
- Regular Push-ups
How To Do Wall Push-Up
Stand in front of a wall. Clench your butt, brace your abs, and set your hands on the wall at slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Walk backwards with your feet until your arms are fully extended and supporting your weight (generally one decent sized step back with both feet will suffice). Keeping the rest of your body in a straight line, steadily lower yourself towards the wall until your nose almost touches the wall, and then explode back up to the starting position.
How To Do Elevated Push-Up
Elevated push-ups are just what they sound like your hands are on an elevated surface, whether it’s something as tall as a kitchen table or as low as a few blocks that are inches off the ground. This will depend on your level of strength and experience. If you’ve just progressed from wall push-ups, pick something that is at a level that’s right for you – I generally find the back of a park bench or the side of a picnic table to be a perfect height for doing incline push-ups. Like so
How To Do Knee Push-Up
Knee push-ups like this are a great way to progress to a regular push-up! Once you’re comfortable doing wall or elevated push-ups, proceed to knee push-ups. Your shoulder and hand placement will look just like a regular push-up (an “arrow”, not a “T”), but you’ll stabilize yourself on your knees instead of your feet.
How To Train Knee Push-Up
Once you can do 4 sets of 20 repetitions on your knees, you can start thinking about doing regular push-ups. To recap, if you can’t do a regular push-up, move from: Wall Push-Ups: Level 1 Elevated Push-Ups: Level 2 Knee Push-Ups: Level 3 Regular Push-ups: Level 4
What Are Other Types Of Push-Ups? (Push-Up Variations)
Basic push-ups can get boring… Fortunately, there are dozens upon dozens of variations to make things more difficult for you. Once you’re cranking out perfect form push-ups like it’s your job, try some of these advanced variations on for size.
- One-legged Push-ups: introducing some variety and balance by removing one of your legs for less stabilization
- Side to Side Push-Ups – Get into the classic push-up position and move your hands farther apart. Now, lower yourself down towards one arm only you should feel like you’re supporting a lot of your weight. To complete the rep, slide horizontally over to the other arm, and push-up. The farther apart your hands, the higher percentage of your bodyweight will be supported by that side of your chest/shoulder and arm (thus getting harder)
- Decline Push-Ups – these work your shoulders and triceps more so than normal push-ups.
- Diamond Push-Ups – keep your arms tight at your side, rotate your hands outward, and keep your elbows tight as you lower your body. Works your triceps like crazy.
- Dive-Bomber Push-Ups – funky, difficult, but oh so fun.
- Plyometric Push-Ups – these are brutal and will wear you out just after a few repetitions. Just don’t hurt yourself and smash your face during a failed attempt (not that I’ve ever done that. Shut up my face always looks like this)
- Handstand Push-Ups – This goes without saying, but you should be able to do a proper handstand before attempting these! Kick up against a wall, and without flailing your elbows way out to the side (which can wreak havoc on your shoulders and elbow joints), slowly lower yourself down until your head touches the ground softly. Then raise yourself back up. Rotate some of these advanced push-ups into your workout routine and you’ll be well on your way to a great strength training practice.
How To Get Better At Push-Ups
Here are some tips to help you along the way: Get healthy! As you lose weight (which is 80% nutrition!), you will have to move less weight around than before, which will make your push-ups easier to manage. Don’t cheat on the last few push-ups – when you’re tired, it’s easy to skip out on good form for your last few reps. As soon as you do one bad form push-up, you’re done. Finish up your four sets, write down your numbers, and try to beat those numbers next time. When starting out don’t do push-ups two days in a row. You need to give your muscles time to rebuild and recover take off at least 48 hours in between your push-up adventure. However, when push-ups became a warm-up exercise for you, you can do them every day if you want. If you’re advanced, you can consider a PLP program. Get enough protein into your system after finishing up your workout protein helps rebuild the muscles you just broke down doing push-ups, and it helps them rebuild those same muscles stronger than before. You can read our ultimate guide on protein for some tips on how to up your protein intake. If you can do 4 sets of 20-25 perfect form push-ups no sweat, then it’s time to start looking into push-up variations to keep things interesting. Build up your core with planks – this will help keep your core strong so that it’s not the weakest link in your proper form push-ups. Perform as many repetitions as you can while maintaining proper form. Stop when you feel your form slipping, even slightly.