Push Up Exercise

A push-up (or press-up) is a common calisthenics exercise performed in a prone position by raising and lowering the body using the arms. Push-ups exercise the pectoral muscles, triceps, and anterior deltoids, with ancillary benefits to the rest of the deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis and the midsection as a whole. Push-ups are a basic exercise used in civilian athletic training or physical education and commonly in military physical training. They are also a common form of punishment used in the military, school sport, or in some martial artsdisciplines. In the past this movement was called a floor dip. In the “full push-up”, the back and legs are straight and off the floor. There are several variations besides the common push-up. These include bringing the thumbs and index fingers of both hands together (a “diamond push-up”) as well as having the elbows pointed towards the knees. These variations are intended to put greater emphasis on the triceps or shoulders, rather than the chest muscles. When both hands are unbalanced or on uneven surfaces, this exercise works the body core. Raising the feet or hands onto elevated surfaces during the exercise emphasizes the upper (minor) or lower (major) pectorals, respectively. Raising the hands with the aid of push-up bars or a dumbbell allows for greater ROM (range of motion), providing further stress for the muscles.

Step Push Up:

  1. Assume a face-down prone position on the floor. Keep your feet together. Your weight should be on your chest.
    • Position hands palms-down on the floor, approximately shoulder width apart. They should be about next to your shoulders, with your elbows pointed towards your toes.
    • If you are on a relatively cushioned surface, such as a carpeted floor, you may also support yourself on your fists between the first and second knuckles for a greater challenge. If you are on a less forgiving surface, consider investing in some push up grips, (they look like handles you put on the floor).
    • Curl your toes upward (towards your head). The balls of your feet should touch the ground.
  2. Raise yourself using your arms. At this point, your weight should be supported by your hands and the balls of your feet. Make a straight line from your head to your heels, and contract your abdominals to keep your hips from sagging. This position is called a “plank,” which is used for other various exercises. This is the beginning and the end position of a single push up.
  3. Pick the type of push up that works best for you. There are actually three types of basic push up variations that use different muscles. The difference is where you place your hands while in the plank position. The closer your hands are together, the more you will engage your triceps. The wider apart they are, the more you will engage your chest.
    • Regular: your hands should be slightly wider than your shoulders. This works both your arms and your chest.
    • Diamond: put your hands close together in a diamond shape, keep them directly under your chest. This will require you to engage your arms much more than a standard push up.
    • Wide-arm: place your hands a good way’s out from your shoulders. This version mostly works the chest and requires less strength in the arms.