Push-ups may be basic, but it takes some time, strength, and awareness to do them correctly. Once you get the hang of this simple exercise, you'll be amazed at how sculpted and strong your arms, chest, core, and shoulders will be. Here are some tips for perfecting your push-up and making it work for you.
Find your form: Before you can move on, make sure you're actually doing a push-up the right way. Be aware of these four things as you execute a push-up: your body alignment, hands, abs, and breath. Make sure your shoulders are aligned over your wrists and your fingers and palms are spread wide, with pressure focused in your fingertips. Pull your belly button in, keeping your spine straight so your body is in a straight line; make sure to connect your breath with your movements. As you lower, bend your elbows outward to the sides. For more information on how to do a push-up correctly, read this guide.
Change it up: Don't stick to boring basic push-ups. While the exercise is great for your upper body, adding props or changing the positions of your hands can make push-ups harder and will work different areas of your body. Add an exercise ball to your feet, for example, to challenge core muscles, and point hands inward to work your triceps more. We've got more ideas — here are 14 push-up variations to try.
More tips for your push-ups after the break.
Don't forget to pull: All that pushing may be great for your muscles, but too much can create an unwanted effect — making your pecs so tight that they pull your shoulders forward, resulting in bad posture. To combat this effect, balance out those push-ups with exercises that help strengthen your back muscles. Use a row or cable pulley machine, or incorporate bent-over rows into your chest press routine.
Do them anywhere: Don't regulate your push-up routine to the beginning or end of a workout. You can drop and do 10 or 20 anywhere — before bed, while you're watching TV, or in a conference room at work.
How many push-ups can you do?