How to Do a Push-Up the Right Way

Perform more push-ups to shape-up!

7 day Push-Up Challenge for Beginners

Push-ups are one of the most foundational exercises in the fitness world. Many fitness assessments use them to test a person’s physical strength and endurance. Most workout routines incorporate push-ups in their weekly regimen. Although push-ups are one of the most commonly utilized exercises, a large percentage of participants perform them incorrectly. Learn how to do a push-up the right way to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.

Push-ups are more than just a chest exercise. They also engage your arms, shoulders, back, and core. If you find yourself struggling to complete a proper push-up, you are not alone. Many people (especially females) have a difficult time completing one full rep of the exercise. While they may seem relatively basic, push-ups can actually be quite challenging. In order to learn how to perform a push-up the right way, there are a few steps to follow. It all starts with ensuring you’re in the correct starting position.

Steps for How to Do a Push-Up the Right Way

  1. Lay face down on the floor with your chest and stomach flat on the ground.
  2. Place your palms flat on the floor. Your hands should be level with your chest, just below the shoulders. This is your starting position.
  3. While keeping your abs tight, back straight, and head in a neutral position, plant your toes into the ground. Push your upper body up through your palms until you are in the hand plank position. Exhale as you push up. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked in throughout the movement.
  4. Stop just before locking your elbows and inhale as you begin to lower yourself back down to the starting position. Be sure to keep your abs tight and back straight.

The video below will demonstrate how to do a push-up the right way.

How to Perform a Proper Push-Up

Incorrect Set-Up Patterns

Hands, Elbows and Shoulders: Make sure you are not placing your hands too high up or too low down. They should be at chest level. Your elbows should also stay tucked in, just below your shoulders. Flaring too far out can place unnecessary stress on your joints.

Core, Low Back and Butt: A weak core and/or tight back can cause your butt to pike or dip. When performing a push-up, keep your back in a straight line by squeezing your abs and glutes. This will keep the effort where it’s supposed to be: in your chest and arms.


If you can’t yet complete a full push-up, don’t stress it! You can work up to one by starting from your knees. Get into the set-up described above, but instead of being on your toes, plant your knees on the floor. Cross your ankles. Pivot your upper body up and down while your knees remain planted on the ground. Maintain a straight back and tight core throughout the movement… don’t let your butt rise or dip!

Fun & Effective Chest Workouts (with Push-Ups!)

Practice makes perfect! In order to perfect the push-up, you must perform them consistently. Try these fun and effective workouts that use push-ups to get you to your fitness goals!

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Erin Miller

Erin is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist. She is also a Performance Nutrition Coach, certified through the Clean Health Fitness Institute. Some of Erin’s favorite hobbies include hiking, kayaking, and hanging out at the beach, although weight lifting is her greatest passion. She says, “Weight training is one of the most empowering things a person can do. Not just seeing, but feeling yourself transform… There’s just nothing else like it.”

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