How To Do A Push Up | Form, Technique & Weights

Push-Ups For Beginners

Push-ups are the bread and butter of workouts. They can be done almost anywhere without equipment, and are fundamental in building your core and upper body strength.

As simple as they are, there is still room for error with push-ups and you want to make sure you’re performing them as they ought to be done.

When doing push-ups you are working your pecs, delts, triceps, abs and lats. By not doing a proper push-up, cheating or working under the guidance of improper technique you may not see the results that you’re looking for.


The Perfect Push-Up

      1. To begin, though you may think of push-ups as requiring only your arms to put in a shift, you need to engage your core muscles to perform a plank. Keep your back and legs straight (except when altering your inclination for an alternative push-up).

      3. Your feet should be slightly parted to spread your weight across your lower abs. Clench your glutes. Your hands should be a little more than shoulder-width apart. Look straight ahead of you (not down), so that your head is back.

      5. Keep your elbows close to your torso as you push. At the top of the push-up, your arms should be straight. At the bottom, when your elbows are bent, your chest should just about touch the floor. To make sure you don’t cheat, use a mirror and also place something just under the size of a fist between the floor and your chest so that you don’t cut corners or go faster to rush through the motion.

Top Tips

One of the big pluses about push-ups is that they are so simple and you can perform them with very limited space. So how can you make them work for you without adding extra reps or weight?
The closer together your hands are on the floor, the more your triceps will come into play. The wider apart your arms are, the more you will reply on your chest and muscles in your back to bear the brunt of the pressure. By arching your back so that you descend into the press at varying angles you’ll be able to build your traps and shoulders.

With that in mind, you can tailor your sets to suit the muscles you want to isolate. Obviously, the steeper the angle, the less evenly your weight will be spread over your torso, meaning your arms, back and chest will bear the brunt.


How Many Reps Do You Need To Do?

This is relative to your recovery and strength capacity. With push-ups, you are exercising both larger muscle groups in your chest and back as well as smaller muscles in your biceps, for example. Smaller muscle groups respond to higher frequency training, so if your aim is to isolate muscles, you may want to consider more sets and higher reps.

If you’re new to a push-ups routine then a good place to start is four sets of a moderate number of reps. Try 4 lots of 10 on a daily basis, increasing by 1 rep each day until you reach a plateau.

Adding Weight To Push-Ups

As with the majority of resistance workouts, advancement means increasing the number of reps you do or the amount of weight you lift. At a glance, you may not think this applies to push-ups, which are a favourite for the lack of need for equipment and depending solely on your bodyweight. But when it is an option to do so, performing the same push-ups with extra weight on your back will, of course, add to the resistance of the targeted muscles.


Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Jennifer Blow

Jennifer Blow

Editor & Qualified Nutritionist

Jennifer Blow has a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutritional Science and a Master’s of Science by Research in Nutrition, and now specialises in the use of sports supplements for health and fitness, underpinned by evidence-based research.

Jennifer has been quoted or mentioned as a nutritionist in major online publications including Vogue, Elle, and Grazia, for her expertise in nutritional science for exercise and healthy living.

Her experience spans from working with the NHS on dietary intervention trials, to specific scientific research into omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and also the effect of fast foods on health, which she has presented at the annual Nutrition Society Conference. Jennifer is involved in many continuing professional development events to ensure her practise remains at the highest level. Find out more about Jennifer’s experience here.

In her spare time, Jennifer loves hill walking and cycling, and in her posts you’ll see that she loves proving healthy eating doesn’t mean a lifetime of hunger.

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