How to do a Push-Up

What is a Push-Up?

The push-up is the bread and butter bodyweight exercise. The Military use it. Martial Arts students use it. Athletes use it. And you should learn how to use it too. The push-up has dozens of different variations, but in this post we are going to focus on the “Classic” push-up you probably learned back in your P.E. class. The push-up is a strength building exercise for your upper body that has existed probably since Adam and Eve were around.

The following muscle groups are engaged when performing push-ups:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps

How to Do a Push-Up (Instructions):

Start with your hands and feet on the ground, with your back straight, hands under your shoulders, and hips parallel to the floor. Lower your body by bending your arms at the elbows until your chest is about to touch the floor, and then with control raise your body back to the starting position by extending your arms. Keep your elbows close to the sides of your body. Ensure to keep your back straight throughout the movement. Repeat.

Trainer Tips for Push-Ups: 

  • Progression (make harder)
    • Perform the movement with your hands closer together to do a close-grip push-up. 
    • Elevate your feet by placing them on a chair, bench, couch, etc…
    • Place your hands on surfaces that have different elevations, such as one hand on the first step of a staircase and the other hand on the ground.
    • Place your hands farther apart to perform a wide grip push-up.
    • Use only one arm.
  • Regression (make easier)
    • Perform the movement on your knees with your hands on the ground.
    • Perform the movement on your knees with your hands on an elevated platform, such as a chair, bench, couch, etc…
    • Stand and perform with your hands on an elevated platform.
  • Application:
    • Set a goal to complete 100 push-ups throughout the entire day. 
      • Example: Complete 10 push-ups every hour from 7am – 5pm
    • Set a goal to complete 30 push-ups each morning as a part of your morning routine.

Push-Ups in the LF 12 Week Bodyweight Program:

Push-ups are used in the Layman’s Fitness 12 Week Bodyweight Program, which you can learn more about here
In Phase III of the Layman’s Fitness workout program, one of the workouts is designed around utilizing the Push-Up variations. Here is a list that generally shows the Push-Up progressions/regressions from easiest to hardest.
  • (easiest) Stand and perform with your hands on an elevated platform.
  • Perform the movement on your knees with your hands on an elevated platform, such as a chair, bench, couch, etc…
  • Perform the movement on your knees with your hands on the ground.
  • Perform the Push-Up: Classic movement, on your feet with your hands on the ground. 
  • Place your hands farther apart to perform a wide grip push-up.
  • Place your hands closer together to perform a close grip push-up. 
  • Place your hands on surfaces that have different elevations, such as one hand on the first step of a staircase and the other hand on the ground.
  • Elevate your feet by placing them on a chair, bench, couch, etc…
  • Push at the top of the movement and raise your hands off the ground (clapping/plyo push-up). 
  • (hardest) Use only one arm.
    • You can apply the entire push-up progression listed above to the one arm push-up. For example, the easiest one arm push-up application is to perform it while standing with your hands on an elevated platform. To make it one step harder, perform the one arm push-up on your knees with your hands on an elevated platform. Etc…