How to push up?

Also known as the press-up, the push-up is a common calisthenics exercise. In short, how to push up, the exercise is performed with the use of both arms to lower or raise the body.

One of the functions of the push-up is that it exercises the triceps, pectoral muscles, and anterior deltoids. The push-up also offers benefits to the rest of the deltoids, coracobrachialis, serratus anterior, and the midsection as a whole.

The push-up is not a new calisthenics exercise; it has been in existence for a very long time. It is a basic exercise used in physical education, civilian athletic training or and commonly in military physical training.

Apart from being a training exercise, we use it as a common form of punishment in school sport, military, or in some martial arts disciplines. It was known as a floor dip in the past.

The push-up is an exercise that helps in strengthening your body muscles. Simply incorporating push-ups into your routine will help you reach all sorts of fitness goals. The push-up will help you improve everything from your arm swing to your posture on your bike.

Support during the push-up

The push-up is done and it supports most of the body mass. However, a study (published in the Strength and Conditioning Research that Journal) states that the hands support 69.16% of the body mass while in the up position and 75%.04 of the body mass while in the down position during the traditional push-ups.

Also, if you use the knees as the pivot point instead of the hands, 53.56% and 61.80% of their body mass are supported in up and down positions, respectively.

Muscles Worked

Although the primary target of the push-up primarily is the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and arms, there are supports from other muscles; this results in the integration of a wider range of muscles into the exercise.

Abdominal Muscles

The transversus abdominis and the rectus abdominis contract continually during push-ups to hold the body off the floor and to keep the legs and torso aligned. You can find the transversus abdominis below the abdomen, and it is meant to wrap the entire abdominal area. Being the most prominent of the abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominis spans the front of the abdomen.

Both the transversus abdominis and the rectus abdominis muscles compress the abdomen together during a push-up. However, the rectus abdominis bends the spine forward, but it does not do this during push-ups exercise.

Chest muscles

Chest muscles are one of the muscle groups that push-up primarily affect. The two chest muscles groups affected are the pectoralis major and the minor. They are the two large chest muscles that do the main pushing muscle group of the upper body. The pectoralis major does the main work when pushing and lowering the body during a push-up. This will result in making the chest muscles very strong after doing push-ups regularly.


Last but not least, the triceps are one of the main muscle groups you use during the push-up. When done correctly your arms should be burning as much as your chest is.

How to push up?

So how do you do push-ups and all the moves correctly? Follow the steps below:

  • In full plank position, start on your hands and toes and with your hands slightly to the sides of your shoulders
  • While you fully engage your core muscles by trying to move your belly button toward your spine, slowly lower your body toward the ground while keeping your spine and neck aligned – no drooping allowed
  • Keep your arms close to the body and create an arrow shape with the arms and spine
  • Move your chest to about a fist away from the floor and slowly press back up to full plank position
  • Repeat the above steps! Try for ten if you are starting out; you can even challenge yourself to see how many you can do

Push-ups are hard, and that is why they are so awesome. If you are not quite ready for a push-up, you can take a step back – there is no shame in that. However, that means form is paramount like any challenging exercise. You can also give attention to the modified push-ups (you will learn about that later). The best is to learn to do ten modified push-ups than five full push-ups with a drooping neck or hips or with hunched shoulders.

You will work the same core, arm and chest muscles while relieving a bit of the pressure allowing for safer training. The same rules guide both the push-up and the modified push-ups; instead of the hands and toes in the push-up, you start on hands and knees without crossing the ankles for the modified push-ups.

The rule of the push-ups is that; the wider the space between your hands, the more you work your chest and the closer you place your hands to your body, the more you work your triceps. After mastering the push-up, you can experiment with different variations so as not to mix up a tired routine but to work on different muscle groups.

Stabilizers for the push-up

Several muscle groups help stabilize the body during push-ups. Below are some of the muscle group that works together to make it possible to go up and down during push-ups:

Back body

The push-up depends on some muscles in the body (known as stabilizer muscles) as you push and lower the body. The primary stabilizer muscle in the back is the erector spinae, which is made up of three muscles including the longissimus, spinalis, and iliocostalis.

The longissimus runs adjacent to the spinalis, spinalis runs adjacent to the spine and the runs adjacent to the longissimus above the ribs. Two muscles; the gluteus minimus and the gluteus medius stabilize the upper leg. The minimus and the medius sit under the gluteus maximus, which is the largest butt muscle.


Stabilizers include the knee extensors, forearm and wrist muscles, and the hip/spine flexors that all work isometrically to sustain a proper plank posture in the standard prone push-up.


The short head of the biceps brachii muscle performs the function of a dynamic stabilizer during the push-up exercise. This means the muscle activates at both the elbow and the shoulder ends to help stabilize the joints.

Joints and tendons

Fingers, wrists, forearms, and elbows are the inner muscles that support the push-ups, and they work isometrically.

Now you know how to push up, a push-up is a form of calisthenics exercise that helps to maintain the total body fitness. That’s the introduction to the push-up that you need to know.


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