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What Are Push-Ups?
Push-ups are a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups across your body, including the pectoral muscles, anterior deltoids, triceps, glutes, core muscles, and lower back muscles. Perform push-ups by holding yourself in a high plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the floor. While keeping your back and legs in a straight line, lower your body toward the floor, then push back up to the starting position.
How to Do Push-Ups With Perfect Form
For push-ups, begin by performing 2–3 sets of 8–15 repetitions, focusing on maintaining good form throughout all sets and repetitions.
- Get into an all-fours position with your knees and toes flexed and in contact with the floor. Your hips should be over your knees. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the ground with your hands, and rotate your shoulders outward to engage your lats.
- Straighten your legs to lift your knees off of the ground into plank position. Your legs should be hip-width apart or slightly wider.
- Pre-tension your shoulders and hips while engaging your core. Squeeze your quads and glutes. Your chin should remain tucked throughout the movement, as if you were holding an egg under your chin. All repetitions should begin from this position.
- For the downward movement, pull your chest toward your hands by bending your elbows. Your shoulder blades should retract as you lower toward the ground.
- Lower your body until your upper arms are even with your back. Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle away from your body, and your wrists should be under your elbows.
- Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement.
- While maintaining your alignment, initiate the upward movement by squeezing your chest and straightening your elbows.
- Your shoulder blades should protract as you push to the top of the movement.
- Finish the repetition by squeezing your chest and triceps.
6 Tips for Doing Push-Ups Correctly
With proper form, push-ups can increase your upper-body strength and mobility.
- Maintain a neutral spine for the duration of the push-up. Proper spinal alignment and core engagement will prevent your head and hips from sagging toward the floor.
- Create intra-abdominal pressure (core stability) to maintain the lumbar spine throughout the push-up.
- Spread your fingers and grip the ground for stability.
- Learn to use full-body tension in order to control each repetition throughout the entire movement.
- When possible, use your phone to record your technique, and review the video for feedback. Optimize your technique before adding weight, speed, or more challenging variations.
- To get the most out of push-ups, perform a higher repetition range—generally 10 or more repetitions.
6 Push-Up Variations to Build Strength
Once you’ve practiced the standard push-up, consider trying one of these push-up variations:
- Knee push-ups: If you’re new to push-ups, start with an easier variation like the knee push-up. By keeping your knees on the floor during the full range of motion, you put less strain on your lower-body muscles.
- Incline push-ups: Practice incline push-ups by raising your upper body with your hands on a bench or other elevated surface. Incline push-ups prioritize your chest muscles, putting less tension on your arms and shoulders.
- Decline push-ups: This advanced variation requires you to elevate your feet on a bench or chair while holding yourself in the push-up position. Decline push-ups put more focus on your upper pecs than regular push-ups.
- Plyo push-ups: This plyometric exercise incorporates an explosive movement at the top of the push-up. Practice plyo push-ups by lifting your hands off the ground before lowering yourself again.
- Diamond push-ups: Perform diamond push-ups by bringing your hands close together to form a diamond or triangle shape below your chest. This variation specifically activates your tricep muscles.
- Wall push-ups: This beginner-level variation puts less stress on your shoulder joints. Practice wall push-ups by standing in front of a wall and lowering yourself forward using the same movement pattern as a traditional push-up.
How to Work out Safely and Avoid Injury
If you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs. Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement. When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you note pain or discomfort.
In order to see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program. Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.
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