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How to do a Proper Push-Up

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Push-Ups are a very common resistance training exercise you will find in many different workout programs.  There are also a wide variety of them to do and many people I coach struggle with them.  This blog is to (1) show how to do a proper ‘regular’ pushup, and (2) some techniques on how to modify them as needed.

First off, do you realize how much resistance you are pushing in a real push-up?  Well you can find out for sure by placing your hands on a scale to measure, but the general estimate is that you are pushing about 50-60% of your actual body weight.  Many factors come into play but this is a decent estimate to go with.  Now can you understand why some folks struggle with this?


In order to do a proper push-up you need to make sure you are in the correct position.

  1. Get into plank position and make sure your hands are aligned with your shoulders but just slightly wider than them. Some folks will either have their hands too much in front or behind the shoulders.  This is key to be directly under them.  Use a mirror if needed.
  2. Hands should be facing straight forward.
  3. Keep your shoulders back and stable.
  4. Tighten your core.
  5. During the setup and move down and up, keep your butt in line with your back – feel like you are tightening your butt cheeks.  You do not want your butt to go up or down – keep in line.
  6. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, tucking your elbows in as you do. When you’re at the bottom, your arms should be at 45-degree angle and remember to keep that butt in line.

If you cannot do 1 of these with good form, then try there:

  1. Have your knees on the floor and setup the same way to execute the move.
  2. Instead of setting up on the floor, lean on a study bench with your arms extended to see if you can do it that way.  This reduces the amount of weight you are pushing.
  3. Finally if these are still too hard, stand up straight facing a wall and setup in a similar fashion with your arms in line with your shoulders and push in and out against the wall.

Push-Ups can be a fantastic way to give your upper body a great workout without any weights or complicated equipment.  There are many variations for those that want to hit different angles of their chest, shoulders and triceps and I will do another blog later on some of the really good variations you can add into your workout routine.

Send me your thoughts, questions and comments.  Just post below.

Coach Mike

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