How to Do Push Ups: Strategies for Beginners

Posted on December 22nd, 2023

Push-ups are a versatile and effective bodyweight exercise that engages multiple muscle groups and can be done anywhere, making them an excellent addition to your fitness routine. 

Whether you're new to working out or looking to improve your push-up form, this guide is here to help. 

We'll cover what push-ups are, and the muscles they target, and provide step-by-step instructions and tips to master this fundamental and powerful exercise. 

Let's dive into the world of push-ups and explore strategies for beginners.

What Are Push-Ups?

Push-ups are a classic calisthenics exercise that primarily target the upper body, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps. They also engage the core muscles, making them a fantastic compound movement for overall upper-body strength and stability.

What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work?

Push-ups are a versatile and effective exercise that engages multiple muscle groups in your upper body and core. These are the key muscles worked in push-ups:

  • Chest (Pectoralis Major): The primary muscle worked during push-ups is the chest. It's responsible for pushing your body off the ground.
  • Shoulders (Deltoids): The anterior deltoids, or front shoulder muscles, assist in lifting your body during the upward phase of the push-up.
  • Triceps: The triceps, located on the back of your upper arms, play a significant role in extending your elbows and pushing your body up.
  • Core: Your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, engage to stabilize your body during the entire push-up movement.
  • Back (Serratus Anterior): The serratus anterior muscles, located on your ribcage, help stabilize your shoulder blades and facilitate proper arm movement during push-ups.

Now that we've covered the muscles involved, let's explore the strategies for beginners to perform push-ups correctly and safely.

Strategies for Beginners

Mastering the art of push-ups is an achievable goal, even if you're new to fitness. In this section, we'll provide you with a step-by-step guide to performing push-ups correctly as a beginner. These strategies will help you build strength, improve your form, and gain confidence in this fundamental exercise. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to refine your technique, these tips are your path to push-up success. Let's get started on your push-up journey.

1. Start in a Plank Position

Begin in a plank position with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels.

2. Engage Your Core

Tighten your core muscles to maintain a stable torso throughout the exercise.

3. Hand Placement

Ensure your wrists are directly under your shoulders to avoid strain. Wrists should be in line with your hands, not bent backward.

4. Elbow Position

Elbows at a 45-Degree Angle: As you lower your body, keep your elbows at approximately a 45-degree angle to your torso. Avoid letting them flare out to the sides.

5. Controlled Descent

Lower your body toward the ground by bending your elbows. Keep your chest and hips in line, and maintain a straight back.

5. Chest to Ground

Aim to lower your chest to within an inch or two of the ground. Your nose should almost touch the floor.

6. Push Back Up

Press through your palms and extend your elbows to return to the starting position.

7. Modified Push-Ups

If full push-ups are challenging initially, start with knee push-ups. Maintain proper form and gradually progress to full push-ups.

8. Practice Makes Perfect

Push-ups may seem daunting at first, but with consistent practice and attention to proper form, you can build strength and confidence in this foundational exercise. Start with a manageable number of repetitions and sets, gradually increasing as you become more comfortable. Remember that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to push-ups.

Related: How to Hit Protein Goals and Build Muscle 


Mastering push-ups is an essential step in building upper-body strength and overall fitness. In this article, we've covered everything you need to know about push-ups, from understanding the muscles they work to mastering proper form as a beginner. With consistent practice and a focus on technique, you can make significant progress and achieve your fitness goals.

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