What is the Push Up?
The Push Up (also known as the Press Up) is a fundamental bodyweight exercise. The Push Up is regarded as one of the best chest and tricep exercises.
While the Push Up is used as the basis for more advanced calisthenics skills, it's often seen as a challenging movement for beginners. One of the biggest challenges when performing a Push Up is getting the form perfect. As with any exercise, improper form can lead to muscle imbalances and injury.
A huge benefit of the Push Up is that it can be made more difficult and more easy without the use of equipment. You can find alternatives in the sidebar.
Push Up demonstration
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How to perform the Push Up
Begin in the prone position, arms shoulder width apart, and feet together. Turn your hands out slightly and place them directly underneath your shoulders. Engage your core and squeeze your butt. Make sure that your hips aren't sinking, and that you're in a solid plank position.
Lower your chest to the ground by bending your elbows. Lower your body in a slow controlled movement, without sinking your hips. Your thighs and chest should touch the ground at roughly the same time (but everyone's bodies are a little different!).
When pushing up from the ground, drive your hands into the floor to bring your body back to starting position. This is the most challenging part of the exercise, so don't arch your back to help get up quicker (it's cheating!).
During the lowering phase of the Push Up, make sure your head is in a neutral position and isn't sinking down or looking up. Don't flare your elbows outward, as this can cause shoulder impingements, and reduces involvement of your chest.
For beginners, pushing up from the bottom position will likely be the most challenging part of the exercise. If this is the case, try one of the easier alternatives, like the Incline Push Up. You can also try performing the lowering part of the exercise slowly. Doing so will help you build strength in the most challenging parts of the exercise.