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How to do a Push Up

What is a push up?

What is a press up

See all press up variations

Press ups are easy-to-perform, suitable for all fitness levels and can be done anytime, anywhere without the need for any kit.

As a compound exercise, they use more than one muscle group at the same time. As a result, they'll give you a great workout, help burn calories, get your blood pumping and leave you feeling energised.

A classic press up does more than just work out your arms. They also work wonders for your shoulders (deltoids), chest (pectoralis major), core (rectus abdominis), hips (obliques) and legs (quadriceps).

If you want to put your strength to the test, here are some press up variations for you to try, ranging in difficulty level from beginners to advanced, that will promote muscle growth and strengthen and tone your upper body.

As with every exercise, quality is more important than quantity so check out the tips below on how to get the most from each and every rep.

MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON PRESS UPS

  • How many calories you burn doing push ups depends on several factors such as your genetics, weight, reps, etc. There is no magic number and it will vary person to person.

  • Push ups primarily work the chest and triceps. It also works the shoulders, biceps and core. To target your biceps more, you can try the following press up variations: narrow press ups, one arm press up, backward-facing reverse press up.   

  • Push ups can work that abs if you activate the core when performing the move.

  • Push ups require adequate strength and practice to perform.  If you struggle with push ups, you can try to work on strengthening your upper body by performing regressions such as the elevated press up. Some people may have challenges limiting them from doing press ups such as their anatomy or joint issues – if you experience any pain please make sure to consult a doctor or qualified practitioner like a physio.

  • Push ups are a great exercise to improve your upper body strength. You don’t need any equipment to perform this exercise so it’s a great move that can be performed anywhere, whether you’re working out in the gym or at home. There are many variations of press ups which can help target different upper body muscles and cater to different strength abilities so no matter if you’re a beginner or advanced, this exercise is great in building and maintaining upper body strength.

Push up tips

  • Make sure your abs are tight when performing the movement, and avoid pushing your hips back to the sky.
  • Start with your feet hip-width apart. If that's too easy bringing them together will make you work harder to stay stable
  • As you perform each rep, keep them slow and measured and get your chest as near to the floor as possible

Push up variations

How to do push ups from knees or modified push ups

Level: Beginners

Equipment: no equipment required

  1. Start on your knees and place your hands on the ground slightly in front of your shoulders 
  2. Your upper body should be straight and at a 45-degree angle 
  3. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor  
  4. Slowly push back up to the start position

How to do an incline press up

Level: Beginner

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands placed on top of a plyo box or bench. Place each hand as wide as is comfortable. The wider apart your hands are, the harder you will work out your chest
  2. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes and slowly lower your chest towards the plyo box or bench.
  3. Pause before pushing yourself back up to starting position. 

How to do a modified tricep press up

Level: Intermediate

No equipment required.

  1. Start in a standard press up position 
  2. Bring your hands together so your thumbs and forefingers make a diamond shape in line with your chest 
  3. As you slowly lower your chest towards the floor ensure your elbows go back rather than out 
  4. Slowly push back up to the start position

How to do a push up

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: No equipment required.

  1. Start in a standard press up position
  2. Place each hand as wide as is comfortable. The wider apart your hands are the harder you will work out your chest 
  3. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor whilst ensuring your abs are tight and your spine is in neutral position.
  4. Slowly push back up to the start position

How to do a wide grip push up

Level: Intermediate

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Place each hand as wide as is comfortable. The wider apart your hands are the harder you will work out your chest 
  3. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor whilst ensuring your abs are tight and your spine is in neutral position.
  4. Slowly push back up to the start position

How to do a decline press up

Level: Advanced

Equipment required: Plyo box, bench or chair.

  1. Start in a plank position with feet elevated on a plyo box, bench or chair.
  2. Place each hand as wide as is comfortable. The wider apart your hands are the harder you will work out your chest.
  3. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor whilst keeping your abs braced and back straight.
  4. Pause before slowly pushing yourself back up to the start position 

How to do a medicine ball push up

Level: Intermediate

Equipment needed: medicine ball

  1. Start in plank position with the medicine ball on the floor to the right of your right hand.
  2. Lift your right hand and place it on the medicine ball whilst keeping the rest of your body as still as you can.
  3. Bring the medicine ball closer if needed. From this position, perform a press up by slowly bending your elbows and lowering your body, whilst shifting your body to your right hand.
  4. Push back up to the starting position and roll the ball over to your left arm. Repeat on the left side. 

How to do a diamond press up

Level: Intermediate

  1. Start on all fours and form a diamond on the floor with your hands, directly under your chest.
  2. Straighten your arms and extend your legs out behind you to get into a high plank position, keeping the diamond formation with your hands.
  3. From this position, brace your core and squeeze your glutes, and perform a press up by lowering your chest to the floor. Try to keep your back straight and head in line with your spine.
  4. Once you've reached a depth comfortable for you, pause in this position and then press back up to starting position.

How to do a spiderman push up

Level: Intermediate

  1. Start in high plank position whilst bracing your core and squeezing your glutes.
  2. Lower your chest towards the floor as you shift your bodyweight to the left side, and bring the left knee to the left elbow.
  3. Pause before returning back to starting position and repeat on the right side.

How to do an uppike push up

Level: Advanced

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. Lift up your hips so that your body forms an upside down V.
  3. Bring your fingers slightly inwards so your hands resemble the shape of the bottom of a triangle.
  4. Brace your core and keep your neck in line with your back.
  5. Bring your head forward until it nearly touches the floor, allowing some bend in the elbows.
  6. Pause, and then push yourself back up until your arms are straight. 

How to do a one arm push up

Level: Advanced

  1. Start in high plank position. Put on arm behind your back.
  2. Brace your core and lower your chest to the ground.
  3. When you reach the bottom, pause and press back up to starting position.

How to do an archer push up

Level: Advanced

  1. Start in a high plank position with hands wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Brace your core and then transfer your weight to the right hand as you lower you chest to the ground, whilst straightening the left arm out to the left side.
  3. Push yourself back up to the middle, and repeat on the other side.

How to a superman push up

  1. Starting in a high plank position. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes, then lower your chest towards the floor.
  2. Once you've hit the bottom position, push away from the floor explosively, so you can extend your arms in front of you while you're up in the air, then bring your arms back in press up position when you land on the floor. You want to make sure you are using your arms to absorb the pressure when landing and to land as softly as possible. 

   

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.