The Push Up (also known as a press up) is a classic body weight exercise for the upper body. There are many variations of the push-up exercise - here is a general description of the push-up, with a few other variations described below.
Equipment Required: depending on the variation, you may need ... raised blocks, a wall, the Perfect Pushup.
- The starting position is facing down with your weight distributed on the hands and feet. The body is rigid and straight, and the hands are usually placed approximately shoulder width apart (the plank position).
- Lower your body until your chest nears the floor at the bottom of the movement, and then return up to the starting position. This is one repetition.
- Remember to move in a nice fluid motion, keeping the core muscle groups activated. Breathe out on the way down, and breathe in as you come back up.
- Repeat the action to perform a set number of pushups, or for a set time.
Push Up Alternatives
With small changes to the standard technique it is possible to easily increase the difficulty of this exercise.
- Try elevating your feet by placing the toes of your feet on a stable, elevated surface such as a bench, chair or a step.
- Moving your hands wider apart or closer together changes the degree of difficulty and stresses different muscle groups. Also performing the push-up on a soft surface like at the beach can further activate the shoulder muscles and give a better workout.
- Add a clap (or two!) at the top of each push-up movement. You will need a powerful push off to give you some air time to do the clap.
- Add in other movements, such as an oblique crunch with the Spiderman Push Up or rotate the body as in the Push-Up with Rotation.
- The Bench Press exercise utilizes similar muscles as the push-up, though you are able to greatly increase the intensity. See also the Dumbbell Press
For less difficulty, you need to reduce the weight going through the hands.
- The traditional way to reduce the effort of a push-up is to do what is commonly called a woman's pushup or half pushup, with the knees touching the ground.
- You can achieve reduced weight through the hands by having the body in a positive incline. You can do this by placing the hands in an elevated position creating a body incline like in the Incline Beach Push-Up, the Beach Wall Press and pregnancy Wall Press.
- An easy press up type exercise can be performed by selecting a very low weight for the Bench Press.
How Many and How Far?
A good workout would be 3 sets of 10-15 pushups, choosing one of the variations above to set the difficulty level. The 7-minute workout requires 30 seconds of pushups, while there are many push-up fitness tests which require 1 or 2 minutes of pushups. Check out the world records for the most number of pushups.
How do you know how far to lower the chest? You could put an object under the chest and go down to touch it, or elevate the hands slightly and lower the chest to that level as in the home push-up.
Push Up Descriptions
- Push Up (home)
- Push Up (beach)
- Spiderman Pushup
- Push-Up with Rotation
- Incline push-up (beach)
- Wall Press (pregnancy)
- Wall Press (beach)
- Perfect Pushup exercise aid
- A Simple Push-Up Test that can be done at home
- World Records for Push Ups
- Push up fitness tests
- Discussion about fitness exercise technique
- Complete list of fitness exercises