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How to do a push-up, the benefits, and the modifications to try

Whether you avoid going to the gym or just want to build arm strength at home, learning how to do push-ups properly can make all the difference in your routine.

While it’s common to build strong arms by lifting weights, push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can use to build arm strength if you lack the equipment or space.In fact, published in Journal of Physical Fitness Research It was found that push-ups and weighted bench presses had similar muscle gains compared to resistance. (That said, if you’re looking for weights for weight training at home, we have best adjustable dumbbells here).

Push-ups are an effective way to strengthen the upper body using only body weight. When done correctly, push-ups will work your triceps, pecs, and shoulders. They also work your abs and strengthen your lower back.

Here’s everything you need to know about mastering the push-up and adjusting to make the workout more challenging. Looking for more exercise inspiration?we discover Best Abs Exercises You can do it for free, and it’s a more hip-strengthening exercise than squats, and it’s one of the best abs for a slender waist.

How do you do push-ups?

To perform a push-up, first get into a plank position with your weight under your shoulders and your palms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Straighten your arms, tighten your abs, and think about lowering your belly button into your spine.

There should be a straight line from the heels to the top of the head. Slowly, in a controlled manner, flex your arms, lower your chest to the floor, pause, and return to the starting position.

What are the benefits of push-ups?

When done correctly, push-ups work the pecs (chest), deltoids (shoulders), and triceps (backs of the arms). They also target the abs. To see the effect of push-ups, you need to do more than a few reps, but if you’re new to the sport, try doing 20 push-ups first and go from there.

Photo of a woman doing push-ups in the gym

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How can I make push-ups easier or harder?

If you’re having trouble with push-ups, try these three modules first:

wall push ups: With palms on the wall, arms straight, slowly lower the torso to the wall, pause, then return to the starting position.

Incline push-ups: You will need a block, bench, table or chair to do this exercise. Rest your palms on the surface and extend your legs directly behind you. Keeping your body in a straight line with your elbows in your body, perform the push-up at an angle.

knee bend: Alternatively, you can lower your knees to the floor during your workout to make push-ups easier. From the high plank, descend to your knees, but make sure to roll onto your knees throughout the exercise. Before returning to the starting position, tighten your core, bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor.

You can also try this TikTok hack to master push-ups using resistance bands.

If you’re really looking for arm gain and find traditional push-ups too easy, here’s how to make the move harder:

Diamond Pushups: Diamond push-ups work the triceps more than traditional push-ups. To perform a diamond push-up, simply make a diamond shape with your hands instead of keeping them shoulder-width apart throughout the exercise.

Increase push-ups: Changing the center of gravity will automatically increase the exercise intensity. Raise your legs on a chair, step, or bench and push away from there. The higher the legs, the harder the push-up.

One-arm push-ups: This one is really challenging and definitely not for beginners. From a plank position, put one hand behind your back and complete the push-up with only one arm. You can also lift one leg off the floor while pushing up to make it more rigid.

weighted push-ups: Last but not least, add some weight. You can do this by putting on a weighted vest (which is what happens when the TG staff train on one for a week), or if you’re at the gym, you can ask a friend to put a weighted weight plate on your back.

Content

How to do a push-up, the benefits, and the modifications to try

Whether you’re avoiding the gym right now, or just looking for ways to boost your arm strength from home, learning how to do a push-up correctly can make all the difference to your home workout routine. 
Although strong arms are often built by lifting heavy weights, if you’re short on equipment or space, push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do to build your arm strength. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that when compared in resistance, push-ups and weighted bench presses have similar muscle gains. (That said, if you are looking for weights to strength train at home, we’ve found the best adjustable dumbbells here). 
Push-ups are an effective way to build upper body strength using just your body weight.  When done correctly, a push-up will work the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders. They can also work on your abdominal muscles, as well as strengthen the lower back. 
Here’s everything you need to know about mastering the push-up, and the modifications to try to make the exercise more challenging. Looking for more workout inspiration? We’ve found the best ab workouts you can do for free, an exercise that’s better than squats at building your glutes, and one of the best ab exercises when it comes to sculpting a slimmer waistline.
How to do a push-up

To do a push-up, start by getting into a plank position, with your weight underneath your shoulders and your palms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Straighten your arms and engage your abs, thinking about sucking your belly button into your spine.
You should have a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head. Slowly, with control, bend your arms and lower your chest to the floor, pause, then raise back to your starting position. 
What are the benefits of push-ups? 
When done correctly, push-ups work the pectoral (chest) muscles, the deltoids (shoulders), and the tricep muscles (back of your arms). They also target your abdominal muscles. To see the effects of push-ups, you’ll need to do more than a couple of repetitions, but if you’re new to the exercise, start by trying to do 20 push-ups, and build up from there. 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
How can you make push-ups easier, or harder? 
If you struggle with a push-up, start by trying these three modifications:
Wall push-ups: Put your palms flat on the wall, arms outstretched, and slowly lower your torso to the wall, pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position. 
Incline push-ups: For this exercise, you’ll need a block, bench, table, or chair. Put your palms on the surface and extend your legs out straight behind you. Keep your body in a straight line, and your elbows into your body, and perform the push-up at an incline. 
Knee push-ups: Alternatively, you can make push-ups easier by lowering your knees to the floor during the exercise. From the high-plank position, drop to your knees, but ensure you roll onto the top of your knees for the entire exercise. Engage your core, bend your elbows, and lower your chest to the floor, before raising back to your starting position.
You can also try this TikTok hack on mastering a push-up using a resistance band. 
If you’re really looking for arm gains and find the traditional push-up too easy, here’s how to make the move harder: 
Diamond push-ups: Diamond push-ups work your triceps harder than traditional push-ups. To do a diamond push-up, simply make a diamond shape with your two hands, rather than keeping them shoulder-width apart during the exercise. 
Raised push-ups: By changing your center of gravity, you automatically increase the intensity of the exercise. Raise your legs onto a chair, step, or the couch, and push up from there. The higher your legs are, the harder the push-up will be. 
One-armed push-ups: This one is really challenging, and definitely not for beginners. From your plank position, put one hand behind your back and complete the push-up using just one arm. Alternatively, raise one leg off the floor as you push up to make things harder. 
Weighted push-ups: Last, but certainly not least, add some weight. You can do this by using a weighted vest (here’s what happened when a TG staffer worked out with a weight vest for a week), or if you’re in the gym, a weighted bar plate that you can get a friend to put on your back. 

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