Push ups are one of the best body-weight exercises for the upper body but they are also the hardest for most people. While the push up focuses mainly on the upper body, if you do it right, your entire body will reap the benefits. There are a lot of push up variations but focus first on mastering the basic push up.
How to Do a Body-weight Push Up
Start in a High Plank Position
Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Dig your toes into the ground behind you. Lift your body off the ground in a straight line from your head to the bottom of your feet. Suck your belly button in tight to activate your core.
Lower Your Body
Keeping your body straight and glancing about a meter in front of you, begin to lower your body down slowly to the floor. Keep your butt down and your core tight. As you lower your body down, keep your elbows tucked in close to your body.
Trainer Tip: Don’t make a “T” with your arms. Keep the elbows tucked in around 40 degrees to protect your shoulder joints.
Push Your Body Up
This is the hard part: you need to push your body up. Keep your core tight, exhale, and push up through your hands back to the starting position. That’s one! Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Need a visual? Check out this push up video.
Once you’ve mastered the basic body-weight push up, it’s time to add some variation to your workout. If you’re looking for something easier or maybe a bit more challenging, we’ve got you covered below.
Beginner Push Up – Easy
If you’re not quite strong enough to do a full body-weight push up, that’s okay. We all start somewhere. Instead of starting on your toes, start on your knees. Just remember to keep your body, from your butt to your head, in a straight line and not push your butt up first.
Michele Foley, over at PopSugar.com, suggests beginners start with an incline push up. So, you might start on your knees, then progress to the incline push up. The key is to concentrate on using proper form.
“T” Push Up – Medium
Start in the normal position. As you push yourself up, raise one arm up towards the ceiling while keeping your eyes on your raised hand. Your upper body will twist and you’ll make a “T” shape. This variation is great for the core.
Narrow-Grip Push Up – Hard
If you want to give your triceps a killer workout, the narrow-grip push up is a great push up variation. Instead of starting with your hands directly below your shoulders, start with your hands just below the middle of your chest with your thumbs touching. This variation can also be done on your knees, too.
Clap Push Up – Hard
Do you want to look cool at the gym? Try the clap push up! Start in the normal push up position. As you push yourself up after completing a push up, quickly clap your hands in midair. This variation is a great exercise to build explosive power. Plus, you just look like a badass.
Want even more push up variations? Watch this video from Baristi Workout.