How To Perform A Pushup
Here’s a question I hear from a lot of people: “What can I do to shape/strengthen/build up my arms?”
The answer is, “a LOT”—even if you don’t have access to a gym! Here’s one exercise you can do almost anywhere: the pushup. It’s a fantastic move for building a commanding set of arms.
Watch the video above to see how I do it, and then read the remainder of this article for precise instructions on how to perform this exercise.
The pushup is an exercise that works both the tricepsAdd a Tooltip Text and chest.
Equipment is optional, depending on your strength.
Beginners may wish to use an elevated step or bench. The higher the bench or step, the easier it is since you won’t be fighting gravity as much.
Performing the exercise on your knees will make the exercise easier (but by no means “easy”) too, because there’s less weight being supported by the working muscles of the arms and chest.
All individuals can perform this exercise—beginner through advanced, all levels.
Description of action:
- Kneel down and place your hands flat on the floor (or bench). Your hands should be directly under your shoulders (or slightly wider).
- Extend your feet behind you, so that you’re balanced on your hands and the tips of your toes; with your body in a straight line. (starting position).
- Keeping your body stationary, end at the elbows to lower your chest towards the floor or bench.
- Stop your descent just above the floor or bench, hold for a moment, then push back up to the starting position.
To define and strengthen the triceps and chest, I recommend performing 3 setsAdd a Tooltip Text of this exercise, using a range of 8 to 12 repetitionsAdd a Tooltip Text per set.
In between sets, rest (drink water, stretch, look at your stopwatch!) and let your muscles recover for about 45 to 60 seconds.
- Keep your body straight during the exercise—do not allow your mid-section to sag towards the floor.
- Do not lock your elbows out at the top of the movement. Keep your elbows slightly flexed to maintain tension on your muscles throughout the entire set.
- Do not pause between repetitions.
- Do not race through the exercise. Take a few seconds to lower your body, hold for a moment at the bottom of the movement, and rise powerfully.
- As you tire, you may be tempted to “cheat” by not lowering your body all the way down. Don’t! You will get more out of fewer, full-range repetitions than you will out of partially-completed ones.
Variations on the Pushup:
Over time, your pushups will become easier…which means it will be time to make them harder! The exercise needs to be challenging in order to be effective.
You can increase the difficulty by performing your pushups without a bench or step; and starting on your toes instead of your knees. You can also vary your hand position: a wider stance will emphasize the chest; a narrower stance will emphasize the triceps.
If you’re an advanced exerciser, you can load the working muscles by…
- propping your feet up on a step or bench. This elevates your feet so you’re now performing a “decline pushup.” Your arms have to support more of your bodyweight in the decline position.
- using pushup barsAdd a Tooltip Text or dumbbells. This will raise your hands above the floor and increase your range of motionAdd a Tooltip Text.
- adding weight. Wear a weighted backpack or have a training partner place a weight on your back after you’re in the starting position.
Enjoy flaunting those strong, impressive-looking arms!