Push Ups
May 16, 2019

How To Do Push-Ups (Beginner to Advanced)

Push-ups are a full body exercise and a foundational part of many HIIT routines. Find out how to do push-ups correctly, with 2 beginner push-up variations to help you build strength.

The Benefits of Push-Ups

Push-Ups are one of the best single exercises for your body. They build upper body strength, tighten your core, help your posture, protect your spine and improve joint stability. What's more, they're a fast and effective way of building muscle, but only if your technique is correct.

How To Do Push-Ups

To make sure your form is correct, run through these 5 steps every time you perform a push-up:

  1. Get onto all fours, with your hands placed wider than your shoulders.
  2. Extend your arms and legs to reach the top of your push-up.
  3. With your back straight, engage your abs to support your core.
  4. Keep your neck straight, facing the ground, and lower your body slowly.
  5. Pause briefly at the bottom, then push yourself back up.

The Most Common Push-Up Mistakes

Making sure your technique is correct will help you avoid injuries that could set back your workout routine. Being aware of common mistakes can help you learn how to correct your technique so you can get all the possible benefits while avoiding injury.

Here are the three most common push-up mistakes, and how to correct them:

  • Incorrect neck position: If your neck is straining up or down, or you’re looking sideways, then you’re risking a strain. Keep your neck in neutral alignment, meaning maintaining a straight line with your back and pelvis.
  • Elbows pointing outwards: If your elbows point out (think chicken dance), your shoulders might suffer. Instead, tuck your elbows in towards your waist while you perform your push-up.
  • Hands extended too far: If your hands are reaching too far forward, you might not get the core benefits of your push up, while risking stress on your joints. A good rule of thumb is to place your hands directly below your shoulders.

Push Ups For Beginners

Full push-ups are often too challenging for beginners, so there are several variations you can use to build strength and work up to full push-ups.

These adaptations contain much the same benefits as the full exercise, so you won’t be missing out. Plus you’ll protect yourself from injuring your muscles by taking on too much too soon.

Wall Push-Ups

Wall Push-Ups are the perfect starting point for complete beginners. They help you to learn the movement, but you’re completely in charge of how much strength to use.

  1. Stand around 2 feet from the wall and face towards it.
  2. Place your palms on the wall, about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend your arms and lower towards the wall, keeping a straight back
  4. When your nose almost touches the wall, push yourself back up.

If you struggle to lower your nose all the way to the wall, only go as far as you can with full control until you build strength to go further.

Knee Push-Ups

Once you have mastered Wall Push-Ups, we recommend moving on to Knee Push-Ups to keep building your strength.

  1. Begin in a standard push-up position, and then lower your knees to the ground.
  2. Place a mat under your knees if it's uncomfortable.
  3. Extend your arms and reach the top of your push-up.
  4. Lower your body slowly to the ground. If you aren't able to fully lower down to the ground, try only lowering your chest to the height of your elbow height.
  5. Pause briefly at the bottom, then push yourself back up.

Advanced Variations

If push-ups are a regular part of your fitness routine, you can test your strength and engage different muscles by trying different push-up variations.

To begin with, experiment with moving your hands closer together or further apart, to test placing the load on different parts of the upper body.

Try Diamond Push-Ups by placing your hands together beneath your face and forming a triangle shape with your fingers. This narrow hand placement increases the burn for your triceps, shoulders and chest.

Alternatively, try Star Push Ups by placing your feet and arms away from your body, as shown below. This wide placement is more taxing on the muscles of the chest and shoulders.

Diamond Push-up
Star push-up

Finally, you can make push-ups into an even more dynamic exercise, activating different muscle groups for a whole body experience. Next time, try Cross Body Push-Ups and Spiderman Push-Ups to enagage your hips and legs too!

Cross-Body Push-Up
Spiderman Push-Up

As for every exercise, only try advanced varieties once you have full mastered a regular push-up and can perform it with relative ease.

Find demonstrations of all the mentioned exercises in Seven.