How to perform a proper push-up

In this post, I will talk about the most fundamental exercise ever(after sex of course), the push-up. And doing a proper push-up is really important. It is a simple exercise which you can perform every time your workout, because for an example if you are new to strength training your goal is to do a single push up. In the beginning, you will probably do a lot of knee push ups or wall push ups.
And if you are experienced in body-weight training then this is the exercise you do to warm up your body. But there is a big chance that you do something similar in your workout like one hand push ups or clapping push ups or superman push ups.

The working muscles

The working muscles during this exercise are the deltoids, pectoralis major, triceps. Those 3 muscle groups push your body off the ground. The abdominal muscles and serratus anterior are the ones keeping your body straight.
And in most cases at the last rep, your body falls down(simply said your ass falls down), which means that you should work more on your core muscles and, in that case, you should perform exercises like planks and side planks,  the main purpose of those exercises is to keep your body straight.



Here is how to perform this exercises right:

  • Get on the ground and put your hands shoulder width apart. Keep your elbows in while performing it.
  • Start lowering your body towards the ground, inhale while lowering.
  • Get close to the ground and push off the ground, keep your body straight, keep your elbows in and exhale at the top.


The most common mistakes are keeping your knees bend, overextending your back, elbows out and many more. Those are just some of the most common mistakes, the major mistake that you must not do is: not doing anything today. If it is too late, just do 2 sets of push-ups and that is it. Because doing those 2 sets takes 5 minutes max or 5 seconds minimum. But you need 30 days to get into the habit of training, focus on your habits.

Always strive to perform a full rep. What I mean is one full rep is getting from extended elbows to touching the ground with your chest. Don’t do half reps, your muscles have more benefits of doing full reps.

You think this is easy?

Do you? Ok then try these exercises:

  • One arm push-up
  • Lalanne push-up
  • One-arm triceps extension
  • Free Handstand push-up
  • And many more
  • Keep going, buddy…

If you want to achieve all of those exercises you have to master the normal push up first and after that master similar and tougher variations of it, like diamond pushups, decline pushups, etc.

If you want to build up more pushing strength you can perform normal push ups with fitness band on you. And this is one of the things you should do if your shoulders are failing before your core(if you can keep a straight body while performing, but you can not do any more push ups, that means that your shoulders are lacking strength and that your core is pretty strong). You can find the fitness band in the link I’ve put in this article: Calisthenics equipment.


But I can not do a proper push-up, what can I do?

It is ok if you can not perform a single rep, and, believe me, everybody starts from somewhere(in the beginning I could not bench press 30 Kgs). Right now I am working on Planche push ups(google it, I will add a picture when I can do it), and it took me 3 years since my first pull up(it took me a year in the gym to do a single pull up).

Those are the exercises that will build up the pushing strength for a single push up:

  • Wall push up – you should try with one step away from the wall. Put your hands on the wall and get your body of the wall, mainly by pushing with your hands. Proceed to the next progression exercise when you can do 1-3 reps.


  • Knee push up – get on the ground, put your knees on the ground, form a straight line with your body(from your shoulders to your knees). Proceed to the next progression exercise after 3+ reps.


  • Elevated push-up – the same as normal push ups, but on a bench or couch.


Warm up!

Remember to warm up your body very well before that. You perform better when you warm up your body properly. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can perform some simple joint rotations. If you have time you can check out my post about full body warm up.

If you want to achieve something similar and you are at the beginning of your strength training journey, you can check out Basic pushing exercises.

What is the most difficult push up that you can perform? Leave your comment below.

Check my disclosure page!


By | 2015-11-14T15:21:56+00:00 July 16th, 2015|Blog, Pushing|2 Comments

About the Author:


  1. […] incline push ups, triceps […]

  2. […] Push ups, dips(you can perform triceps, normal and wide dips), triceps extension, L-sit, V-sit(probably, not sure though), you can put the straps on the pull up bar and use them as rings(Bulgarian dips), pull ups(with all kinds of grips), front lever, back lever, different leg raises, hanging core exercises, using the strap for some core exercises, body-weight biceps curls and maybe some Strap(TRX) lunges. […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: