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Correct Push-Up Form Suggestions, Advantages, and Variations| Well+Good

The push-up is a widely known exercise, but its effectiveness and flexibility may surprise you. Besides strengthening and toning your arms and chest, push-ups may also lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. But you will not get the full-body advantages in the event you’re not using correct push-up form.

“Push-ups help improve upper-body strength, improve core stability, contribute to bone health, boost metabolism, reduce the chance of cardiac events, and might improve body composition,” says Karly Mendez, trainer and human performance specialist with Memorial Hermann’s Rockets Sports Medicine Institute.

Ready to reap all of those advantages? Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at the muscles worked, correct push-up form, and a few fun variations to check out.

Which muscles do push-ups work?

Many people only think in regards to the push-up working the arms, nevertheless it strengthens your whole body.

Chest

Push-ups strengthen and construct up the pectoral muscles (pectoralis major and minor), that are the big muscles on the front of your chest. These muscles essentially work throughout your complete push-up, as they work to lower you to the ground and assist in bringing you back up.

Arms, shoulders, and back

“Push-ups not only work the chest, but additionally they work the triceps and anterior deltoids,” says Mendez. In addition to your arms, additionally they strengthen the serratus anterior, which is a muscle that moves your shoulder blade and shoulder. You can deal with different muscles by switching up your hand placement through the push-up.

Abdominal muscles

Because you might be in a plank position while doing a push-up, you might be also strengthening your core, specifically your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and the muscles on the side of your trunk, the obliques. The deep core muscles in your back, the erector spinae, are also working to maintain your back stable and straight.

What correct push-up form looks like

There are many variations of the push-up, but it will be important to first master the normal push-up form.

  1. Start in a high plank position, along with your hands shoulder-width apart, along with your middle finger pointing forward. Your body must be in a straight line.
  2. Keeping your head aligned along with your back, bend your elbows and lower yourself down toward the ground.
  3. Keep your elbows pointed back toward your hips, not flared or straight out.
  4. Try to lower down until you almost touch the bottom (or go so far as you may go without sagging your hips or flaring your elbows).
  5. Press upward until your arms are fully straight and you might be within the starting position.
  6. Repeat 2 sets of 10.

There can be the military-style hand-release push-up, which can be considered a standard push-up, nevertheless the arms are moved out to the side between reps.

5 impressive push-up advantages

Need some motivation to incorporate push-ups into your workout routine? Here are five explanation why this exercise must be at the highest of your list.

1. Strengthens your upper body and core

The push-up works several large muscle groups directly, making it a fast and effective strengthening move. It builds strength and tones the muscles in your arms, shoulders, and core. This helps you not only do each day activities with greater ease, but strengthening these muscles also improves sports performance.

2. Improves heart health

As it seems, you may push your option to a healthy heart! A 2019 study found that men who could do 40 push-ups had a 96% lower risk of getting cardiovascular diseases (equivalent to stroke or heart attack) over the subsequent 10 years compared to those that could only do ten or fewer push-ups.

3. Boosts metabolism and improves body composition

For those seeking to change their body comp, be sure you are doing push-ups. Experts say that because they work multiple large muscle groups directly, push-ups get your heart pumping and increase your metabolic rate.

A 2017 study found that doing resistance exercises (like push-ups) together with aerobic exercise and a healthy eating regimen helps you gain muscle mass without losing bone density. This leads us to the subsequent profit….

4. Strengthens bones

Resistance exercises, including body weight exercises like push-ups, help to strengthen your bones, prevent fractures, and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. This is very necessary as you become older.

5. Accessible and versatile 

Push-ups might be done anywhere they usually don’t require any special equipment, in order that they’re great to knock out a couple of throughout the day! This versatile exercise might be done by itself as a strengthening move, or as a part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit. You may also easily modify push-ups, making them more accessible or harder.

4 push-up variations to try

1. Incline push-up

If you might be struggling to perform correct push-up form, there are several ways to make push-ups easier, equivalent to doing them in your knees as a substitute of in a plank position. Mendez recommends the incline push-up. By using an incline or a step, your body doesn’t need to fight gravity as much so you may deal with your form and construct up strength.

Photo: Kim Grundy

  1. Place your hands on an incline or elevated surface, equivalent to a stair step, bench, chair, or plyometric box.
  2. Your hands must be shoulder-width apart, along with your legs straight behind you.
  3. Bend your elbows to lower yourself down until you’ve got almost reached the incline surface, after which push yourself back up.
  4. Focus on pointing your elbows back toward your hips, versus straight out.
  5. Keep your head in alignment along with your body.
  6. Repeat 2 sets of 10.

2. Decline push-up

Once you may do traditional push-ups with ease, it’s time to challenge yourself with the elevated push-up. This move will strengthen your shoulders and pecs greater than a standard push-up. (If you ought to deal with your biceps, try the pseudo planche push-up).

female PT with a blond ponytail wearing a tank top and leggings shows how to do decline push-ups correctly
Photo: Kim Grundy

  1. Place your feet on an incline or elevated surface, equivalent to a stair step, bench, chair, or plyometric box.
  2. Your hands must be shoulder-width apart on the ground, along with your legs straight behind you on the elevated surface.
  3. Bend your elbows to lower yourself down until you’ve got almost reached the ground, after which push yourself back up.
  4. Your elbows will wish to move out, but deal with pointing them back toward your hips.
  5. Keep your head in alignment along with your body.
  6. Repeat 2 sets of 10.

3. Shoulder tap push-up

This advanced push-up move not only targets the upper body, nevertheless it works the core greater than a normal push-up. Make sure you might be keeping your trunk stable by contracting your abs throughout your complete motion.

female PT with a blond ponytail wearing a tank top and leggings shows how to do shoulder tap push-ups with correct form
Photo: Kim Grundy

  1. Start in a normal push-up position, in a high plank along with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your head aligned along with your back, lower yourself down toward the ground.
  3. Keep your elbows pointed back toward your hips versus straight out.
  4. Lower down until you almost touch the bottom, or go so far as you may with proper form.
  5. Press upward until your arms are fully straight.
  6. Once you reach the highest, take one hand and tap it on the other shoulder before placing it down on the bottom.
  7. Next, touch the opposite shoulder with the other hand. This is 1 rep.
  8. Don’t let your body sway. Keep your core tight and stable.
  9. Lower back down and repeat the sequence.
  10. Repeat 1 to 2 sets of 8 to 10.

4. Diamond push-up

female PT with a blond ponytail wearing a tank top and leggings shows how to get into diamond push-up form
Photo: Kim Grundy

The narrow hand placement of the diamond push-up works your triceps far more than a normal push-up. If you are able to deal with your arm strength, give this variation a try.

  1. Place your hands in a diamond position on the ground, along with your thumbs and index fingers touching.
  2. Keeping your hands in place, get right into a plank position, along with your arms straight and your feet straight behind you.
  3. Your hands can be in a diamond position under your chest, while your shoulders can be barely in front of your hands.
  4. Bend your elbows and lower yourself down until your hands touch your chest.
  5. Keep your elbows near your ribcage and avoid letting them flare out.
  6. Press up until your elbows are straight back within the starting position.
  7. Repeat 2 sets of two to 10 reps.

Common push-up form mistakes

Correct push-up form is vital to not only get the total good thing about the exercise but to also avoid injuries. If you’ve got had any shoulder, elbow, or hand injuries, confer with your doctor before doing this exercise. If you’ve got wrist pain, you may as well do the push-ups on dumbbells so your hands and wrist are in a more neutral position.

Here are the 4 commonest push-up form mistakes—and the best way to fix them.

  1. Not going through the total push-up motion: Mendez says that not taking the push-up through its full range of motion doesn’t can help you reap the total advantages. Make sure you go all the way in which down until your body almost touches the bottom – after which be sure your arms reach full extension at the highest. If you may’t try this, switch to knee push-ups or incline push-ups until you’ve got built up more strength.
  2. Elbow position: Pay attention to your elbow position. Mendez says your elbows shouldn’t flare out or point outward. “Your elbows should angle back towards the hip,” she says. If you might be doing a push-up variation, equivalent to the diamond push-up, keep your elbows near your rib cage and don’t allow them to indicate in any respect.
  3. Hip position: While within the plank position for a push-up, your hips must be in a straight line. According to Mendez, in case your hips are too high or sagging all the way down to low, you aren’t using your core. Think about keeping your torso stiff and tight throughout the push-up.
  4. Hand position: Unless you might be doing a push-up variation (just like the diamond push-up), your hands must be shoulder-width apart and under your shoulders. Don’t allow them to go in front of your shoulders or place them too far apart because it could put an excessive amount of stress in your shoulder joint.

FAQ

How many push-ups do you have to do a day?

“It is just not obligatory to perform push-ups daily, nevertheless, a modest amount will likely be deemed to be okay,” says Mendez. You can do push-ups daily, but decrease the frequency in the event you are having any muscle or joint pain. Experts say it is best to, at a minimum, do resistance training (equivalent to push-ups) two to thrice every week.

As far as what number of to do, Mendez says to work your way up with more sets as your strength improves. “If you may perform greater than 25 push-ups, try implementing 2 to three sets of 10 to 25 repetitions,” she says.

For specific numbers, the American College of Sports Medicine has a fitness self-assessment chart that’s broken down by age. For example, in the event you are a lady between the ages of 30 and 39 and you may do greater than 39 push-ups, then that is taken into account excellent. For a person throughout the same age range, doing greater than 44 push-ups is great.

Is it higher to do push-ups fast or slow?

It relies on your goal. In general, it is best to do push-ups at a moderate and controlled pace, which is 2 seconds up and a couple of seconds down. If you ought to give your muscles more of a strengthening workout, you may slow it down. If you wish more of a cardio or aerobic exercise, you may speed it up. Regardless of speed, be sure you retain your form intact.


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the data we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.

  1. Yang J, Christophi CA, Farioli A, et al. Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341
  2. Villareal, Dennis T et al. “Aerobic or Resistance Exercise, or Both, in Dieting Obese Older Adults.” The New England journal of medication vol. 376,20 (2017): 1943-1955. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1616338


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