Another one of the hard to beat exercises that works a great deal of your upper body muscles - chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.  These are the same push-ups you remember from being a kid, but done right, they can have a big impact on your strength and fitness level.  Add in the fact you can do them anywhere, and we'll make push-ups a key component in our fitness routine.

  • Standard push-up - head & back straight, hands below shoulders, slow steady movement.
  • For Beginners
    • Knees on ground - for beginners, rest your knees on the ground; everything else remains the same.
    • Hands elevated - another one for beginners, place your hands on a bench or step (12-18 inches above the floor).  You'll work most of the same muscles, but the exercise is a bit easier.
  • Advanced push-ups
    • Feet elevated - a more difficult push-up, with added work for the shoulders.
    • One handed - spread your feet a little wider, and move one hand closer to the center of your body.
    • Clapping - do the standard push-up down motion, then explode upward so your hands come off the ground.  Clap your hands in the air before catching yourself for another nice, controlled down movement.
  • Adding Core Strength
    • Arm raises - do a standard push-up.  Then, from the up position, rotate your body while raising one hand up, into the air above you.  Switch arms each "up".
      • You can also try raising your arms (one at a time!) out in front of you, rather than sideways - it gives a similar but different burn.
    • Leg raises - do a standard push-up.  Then, from the up position, lift your leg off the ground, slowly, as high as you can.
    • Knees forward (while down) - do a standard push-up. From the "down" position, bring your knee forward towards your elbow on the same side of your body (right knee to right elbow).
    • Knees forward (while up) - do a standard push-up. From the "up" position, bring your knee forward to the elbow across your body (right knee to left elbow).
    • Push-up to Plank - do a standard push-up. From the "up" position, lower yourself into a plank position (forearms on ground supporting your push-up form) for a 5 or 10 count (or more, depending on your ability). Raise yourself back to the "up" position, and repeat.
  • Combining multiple exercises
    • As you get more advanced, try mixing a combination of the above options. You can also add Mountain Climbers or Mountain Jumpers to the mix.
    • Example:
      • 3 push-ups
      • short burst of mountain climbers
      • 3 push-ups
      • down to plank
      • 3 push-ups
      • 3 knee-forwards
      • 3 push-ups
      • 3 arm raises
      • 3 push-ups
      • short burst of mountain jumpers
      • and on and on - mix and match the numbers and the exercises to fit your needs

For more information, BuiltLean has a great write up on push-ups, including a good video.

Legal Disclaimer (don't blame me):

Warning - I am NOT a licensed physical trainer, therapist, nutritionist, or a doctor.  I am a regular guy who just happens to love exercise and fitness.

Exercise can be dangerous if done incorrectly or in excess.  I can't see you, and you can't see me, to know if you're doing an exercise incorrectly, which could lead to injury.

Please Please Please seek help / advice / counsel from a local professional before starting a new program, or before doing an exercise you're unfamiliar with.  This information is intended as a guide to point you in the right direction.  If you aren't familiar with the exercises described herein, I highly recommend seeking professional advice before trying them.