Why Should You Train Push Ups

Push-ups are a the world’s most popular calisthenics exercise. They are highly effective and versatile for building a strong chest and upper arms. Regularly training push ups comes with many health benefits including stronger chest, better functional strength in day to day life, improved joint stability, and mental clarity. Push ups are also very accessible and adaptable exercise that can be done anywhere and their difficulty can be adapted for anyone.

To learn how to do your first push up follow these progressions and in no time you will unlock your first push up while being well on your way to reaching your fitness goals.

What Muscles Do Push Ups Train

Push-ups primarily target these muscle groups:

  • Pectoralis Major and Minor (Chest)
  • Deltoids (Shoulders)
  • Triceps

However, to a lesser extent, push-ups also hit the muscles in these areas:

  • Core
  • Lower Back
  • Glutes

Level 1: Wall Assisted Push Ups

To perform wall-assisted push-ups extend your arm straight so your palm touches the wall. Bring your feet as close as you can together and place your hands just below shoulder height while keeping them just past shoulder width apart. Your wrists will feel like they are being stretched when you lean forward against the wall with your arms straight. Initate the push up by bringing your chest forward towards the wall and pushing away from the wall with your hands. It is important to keep your elbows towards your body and to not flare them outward.

These may feel easy but it is crucial for all other push up progressions that you learn the proper technique of keeping your elbows pointed inward instead of flaring them out.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 30 repetitions

Level 2: Incline Push Ups

Incline push ups start to add some depth to your push ups. Instead of pushing back to a standing position lower your hands and take a step backward with each foot. You can also hold onto a rail, bar, blocks, bench, or even a chair instead of placing your hands against a wall to create a deeper incline. The lower your base, the harder the push up will be. We recommend starting with your hands at the height of your ribs and lowering your starting position over time. You can start with a wall and work downward to counter tops, tables, chairs, and other household items that are closer to the ground.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 20 repetitions

Level 3: Knee Incline Push Ups

Once you’ve hit a plateau with how far you can go down doing incline push ups the next step is to do incline knee push ups. Like the name suggests you will be starting on your knees. Grab a few hold books or something that can elevate your hands further off the ground. With your hands elevated you can begin to do knee incline push ups. Just remember to keep good form and do not let your elbows flair outward – keep them close!

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 15 repetitions

Level 4: Knee Push Ups

You’ve made it far and are getting very close to unlocking the push up. The next step is get rid of the books, palettes or other equipment you were using for incline push ups and begin to use the floor at your feet. When doing knee push ups you are loading approximately 45% of you total body weight onto your chest and arms. For each rep make sure to bring your chest as close as you can to the floor to maximize the effectiveness of the motion. If you are struggling to do regular push ups and find yourself stuck at knee push ups consider pausing at the top, bottom, and middle of your knee push ups.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 12 repetitions

Level 5: Full Push up

Congratulations on making it to the full push up! You should feel proud of yourself. Let’s go over the form for a full push up to make sure you are doing each rep properly.  Straighten your bodywith your feet and hands touching the floor. Place your arms just past shoulder width apart and just below your armpit. Lower yourself down keeping a straight body with no bend in your back. You will feel your abs getting braced and become engaged during a full push up. Once your chest touches the ground pause and push yourself back up to the starting position.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

If you want to take your push ups even further check out some of our intermediate push up variations where we cover different push up hand positions and even the one-arm push-up.

To improve push-up strength, incorporate exercises that target the muscles involved in push-ups, such as chest presses, tricep dips, and plank variations. Additionally, practice push-up variations and gradually increase the number of repetitions or add resistance to challenge yourself.

Push-ups primarily work the chest (pectoralis major), shoulders (deltoids), and triceps. They also engage the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, for stability and support.

The number of push-ups you should be able to do varies depending on factors such as age, gender, fitness level, and body weight. Aim to gradually increase your push-up count over time as you improve strength and technique.

Yes, push-ups can help build muscle mass, particularly in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. By progressively overloading the muscles with challenging variations and resistance, you can stimulate muscle growth and hypertrophy.

The benefits of doing push-ups include strengthening the upper body muscles, improving core stability, enhancing shoulder health, and promoting overall functional strength. Push-ups also require no equipment and can be done virtually anywhere.

If you can’t do a push-up yet, start by building strength with modified push-up variations, such as incline push-ups or knee push-ups. Focus on gradually increasing your strength and practicing proper form until you can perform a full push-up.

It’s not necessary to do push-ups every day. Allow your muscles time to recover between workouts to prevent overtraining and promote muscle growth. Aim for 2-3 push-up sessions per week with rest days in between.

The main difference between push-ups and bench press is the equipment used and the range of motion. Push-ups are a bodyweight exercise done on the floor, targeting multiple muscles simultaneously, while bench press is typically done with a barbell or dumbbells on a weight bench, allowing for greater resistance and isolation of specific muscles.

To progress from knee push-ups to full push-ups, gradually decrease the amount of assistance provided by your knees until you can perform a full push-up with proper form. Additionally, focus on building overall upper body and core strength with other exercises.

If you have wrist pain during push-ups, try adjusting your hand position to reduce strain on the wrists. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and spread your fingers wide for better support. You can also try using push-up handles or doing push-ups on your fists to alleviate wrist discomfort.

Push-ups can contribute to weight loss as they engage multiple muscle groups, increase calorie expenditure, and improve overall fitness. However, weight loss ultimately depends on a combination of factors including diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits.

To prevent shoulder pain while doing push-ups, focus on maintaining proper form and alignment throughout the movement. Avoid letting your shoulders hunch up towards your ears and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Additionally, warm up your shoulders with dynamic stretches before exercising and incorporate mobility exercises to improve shoulder flexibility and stability.

Proper form for push-ups involves starting in a plank position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms fully extended, and body forming a straight line from head to heels. Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position. Keep your core engaged and avoid arching or sagging your back.

The tempo of push-ups can vary depending on your goals and fitness level. Performing push-ups slowly and with control can increase time under tension and muscle activation, while faster-paced push-ups can improve cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance.

Yes, you can do push-ups on your knees as a modified version of the exercise to reduce the amount of body weight you’re lifting. Start in a plank position with your knees on the ground and perform push-ups with proper form, focusing on maintaining a straight line from head to knees.

To increase the number of push-ups you can do, practice push-ups regularly and gradually increase the volume and intensity of your workouts. You can also incorporate push-up variations and progressive overload techniques, such as adding resistance or reducing rest periods between sets.

Common push-up variations include wide grip push-ups, close grip push-ups, diamond push-ups, decline push-ups, and plyometric push-ups. Each variation targets different muscle groups and adds variety to your push-up routine.

To make push-ups harder, you can incorporate advanced variations such as archer push-ups, handstand push-ups, one-arm push-ups, or explosive clap push-ups. You can also add resistance by wearing a weight vest, using resistance bands, or elevating your feet on a bench or stability ball.

Push-ups primarily target the chest muscles (pectoralis major), but they also engage the shoulders (deltoids), triceps, and core muscles. By progressively overloading the chest muscles with challenging variations and resistance, you can stimulate muscle growth and hypertrophy.

Whether you do push-ups before or after other exercises depends on your workout routine and goals. Some people prefer to do push-ups at the beginning of their workout when they’re fresh, while others incorporate them later as a finisher or accessory exercise.

If you have lower back pain while doing push-ups, it’s important to assess your form and technique. Avoid arching your back excessively or letting your hips sag towards the ground, and focus on engaging your core muscles to maintain proper alignment and stability.

To avoid wrist pain during push-ups, try adjusting your hand position to reduce strain on the wrists. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and spread your fingers wide for better support. You can also try using push-up handles or doing push-ups on your fists to alleviate wrist discomfort.

To engage your core during push-ups, focus on keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels throughout the movement. Tighten your abdominal muscles and imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine to activate your core and maintain stability.

If you have shoulder impingement, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before doing push-ups. Depending on the severity and type of injury, you may need to modify your technique, avoid certain exercises, or focus on rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve mobility.

Standard push-ups involve placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with fingers facing forward or slightly turned out. Wide grip push-ups involve placing your hands wider than shoulder-width apart to target the chest muscles more intensely. Diamond push-ups involve placing your hands close together under your chest, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers, to emphasize the triceps muscles. Each variation provides a unique challenge and targets different muscle groups, allowing for a comprehensive upper body workout.

Additionally, incline push-ups can be done with hands elevated on a surface such as a bench or step, while decline push-ups involve elevating the feet on a platform or stability ball. These variations change the angle of the exercise, shifting the emphasis to different parts of the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

By incorporating various push-up variations into your workout routine and progressively challenging yourself, you can build strength, muscle mass, and endurance in the upper body while improving overall fitness and functional strength.