For more exercises like the push up, check out my Bodyweight Exercises page!
The Push Up
One of the very best bodyweight exercises is the push up. It is a fundamental exercise that is generally one of the first exercises that anyone learns. It’s highly effective in building upper body strength, and strengthens the entire core area.
In addition to developing the chest, the push up develops your scapular muscles and your rotator-cuff muscles that support your shoulders.
Lie on the floor with palms under the shoulders. The fingers should be spread wide, with the tips pointing forward. Engage the muscles of your abdomen and glutes, press your palms into the floor, and raise your body. Keep the shoulders back.
Use the strength of the core, to keep the hips in line with the heels and shoulders (plank).
Lower the chest back to the floor, with control, and repeat the exercise. Keep the head in neutral alignment with the rest of the spine.
Push Up Modifications
There are a number of variations that you can do to add variety and work the chest, shoulders, and triceps differently.
- Place the hands wider than shoulder width to increase the chest effort.
- Bring the hands close together, touching the thumbs and index finger to target the triceps.
- Hit the core harder by lowering with the elbows in tight, scraping the rib cage.
- Drop the knees to make the push up easier. The hips should still stay in line from the knees through the shoulders.
Challenge yourself and complete as many bodyweight push ups as you can.