Develops the strength and endurance of the chest, front of shoulders and triceps muscles. Improves core stability.

Major muscles worked:  Pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, coracobrachialis, triceps.

Stabilizer muscles worked: abdominals, erector spinae(back muscles), gluteus maximus, trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, pectoralis minor.

push up musclesstabilizer muscle diagram

Overview: Weight is on hands/toes or hands/knees. Neck, spine, shoulders and pelvis do not move. Hands are slightly wider than shoulders. Fingers face forward. Contract abdominals.  Inhale on way down to about a fist’s width to the floor(it should look like a 90° angle). Exhale on the way up.

Position: (for the standard push-up) Distribute weight evenly on hands and toes or hands and knees. If you experience wrist issues, place hands on dumbbells instead of flat on floor.
Ladies, it is okay to start in the hands/knees position, especially if you are a beginner, but it is in your best interest to progress to hands/toes. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped and defined by the “women’s position”. This is insulting. You will develop more strength and endurance and create greater muscle definition if you are in full range of motion.
Neck, spine, scapulae and pelvis are in neutral position. They don’t move. Hands are slightly wider than shoulder width. Fingers face straight forward. Contract abdominals.  Proper form is imperative.  A loss of core stability can lead to back injuries.

Movement: Start in the up position. Lower until the chest is about a fist’s width from the floor (it should look like a 90° angle). Inhale on the way down. Exhale on the way up.

Common errors: Sagging in the back. Keep the glutes engaged and the abdominals contracted.
Looking up, causing stress on cervical vertebrae. Keep the neck stabilized in neutral (lined up with the spine).
Hyperextending (locking) the elbows on the way up.
Hyperextending the hips so that they are “risen”up.
Inability to keep scapulae (shoulders) stable.

Progression: There are many variations of the push up. Hand placement can determine which muscles have greater involvement.
– Beginners can start with a wall push up to standard hands/toes or hands/knees.
– Knee or full body decline push up.
– Hands on wobble board, bosu, stability or medicine ball.
– two of my favorites(I have a lot, though, as I am in love with the push up!):  push up with a side plank combination and diamond push up.
– Plyometric push up

Need help with your push ups? Or just want progression advice? Please leave a comment…