Push-ups are a classic and highly effective exercise that can build upper body strength, improve core stability, and enhance overall fitness levels. However, many people perform push-ups incorrectly, leading to suboptimal results and an increased risk of injury. In this article, we will break down the correct way to perform push-ups to maximize their benefits and ensure proper form.

Warm-up is Key

Before diving into push-ups, always start with a proper warm-up. Engage in light aerobic exercises like jumping jacks or a brief jog to get your blood flowing and muscles ready for action. Perform dynamic stretches that target the shoulders, chest, triceps, and core to increase flexibility and prevent strains.

Starting Position

To begin a push-up, position yourself face down on the floor with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be flat on the ground, fingers pointing forward, and elbows fully extended. Your feet should be together, supported by the balls of your feet.

Core Engagement

Engaging your core is crucial for maintaining a stable body throughout the push-up. Imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine to activate your abdominal muscles. This will create a straight line from your head to your heels.

The Descent

Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, maintaining a controlled and steady motion. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle relative to your body; avoid letting them flare outwards as this can put unnecessary stress on your shoulders. Lower your chest until it almost touches the floor or hovers just above it.

Proper Breathing

Breathe in as you descend towards the floor and exhale as you push yourself back up. Controlled breathing helps stabilize your core and keeps your body in sync with the movement.

Full Range of Motion

Strive for a full range of motion during push-ups. Ensure that your chest is as close to the ground as possible without touching it. Conversely, fully extend your arms at the top of the movement, locking out your elbows without hyperextending them.

Maintain a Neutral Spine

Throughout the exercise, it’s essential to keep your spine in a neutral position. Avoid arching your lower back or allowing your hips to sag towards the ground. A neutral spine minimizes strain on your lower back and helps you maintain proper form.

Hand Placement Variations

While the standard push-up employs shoulder-width hand placement, varying the width can target different muscle groups. For instance, placing your hands closer together targets the triceps more intensely, while a wider hand position emphasizes the chest muscles.

Push-Up Variations

As you progress in your push-up journey, consider incorporating variations to challenge yourself further. Some popular variations include incline push-ups (elevating your hands on a surface like a bench), decline push-ups (raising your feet on a surface), diamond push-ups (placing your hands close together to form a diamond shape), and one-arm push-ups (a more advanced variation requiring significant upper body strength).

Gradual Progression

Mastering the push-up takes time and dedication. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t perform many repetitions initially. Gradually increase the number of push-ups you do in each set and focus on maintaining proper form throughout. Consistent practice and patience will lead to improvement over time.


The push-up is a fundamental exercise that can yield impressive results when performed correctly. Remember to warm up, engage your core, maintain a neutral spine, and focus on proper breathing during each repetition. With persistence and dedication, you will not only master the perfect push-up but also reap the benefits of increased strength and improved overall fitness. Always consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns before starting a new exercise routine.

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