What Are Push-Ups For?

Reviewed on 2/3/2021

Push-ups are a staple upper body exercise targeting multiple joints and muscle groups
Push-ups are a staple upper body exercise targeting multiple joints and muscle groups

Push-ups are a staple upper body exercise targeting multiple joints and muscle groups, mainly the pectoral (chest) muscles, shoulders, triceps, core muscles, glutes (muscles in the buttocks), and legs. This exercise is done in the prone position by alternately lowering and raising the body to and from the floor with the arms, toes, and palms resting on the floor. It is a free and versatile exercise that requires no mechanical equipment. It is done in combination with various exercises to build upper body strength. It is one of the most challenging and hardest exercises to master. There are also different variations to make push-ups more challenging. They increase the body’s metabolism and are highly effective in burning calories, building muscle mass, and weight management. Push-ups are a part of several activities, such as simple workout routines, sports, and intense military training. Push-ups that are done along with endurance exercises increase blood flow and break down the excess buildup metabolites. Thus, they are highly effective in preventing heart failure, heart attacks, and other heart problems.

What are the benefits of doing push-ups?

Push-ups have numerous benefits. A person’s muscle strength and capability are often valued with their ability to do push-ups. Doing push-ups:

How to perform a standard push-up?

Push-ups could be performed with a lot of modifications by adjusting its speed, the angle of the body, and hand placement, or by adding more or less resistance and intensity. It can be repeated several times based on one’s muscle capacity. Beginners are advised to start with 10-20 push-ups and gradually increase the counts after a few weeks of daily practice. Consistently doing an average of 50 push-ups per day and having a healthy diet can help maintain good upper body strength. The basics to perform a standard push-up are explained below:

  • First, prepare the body before push-ups by doing stretches and warm-up exercises. This could reduce the risk of getting DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and acute muscle soreness post-workout.
  • It should be performed on the floor or mat.
  • Begin at a full plank position with arms extended, palms planted flat firmly on the floor just below shoulder level, and feet together or 12 inches apart.
  • The back must be kept straight with the body weight evenly distributed and tight core during the entire push-up.
  • The body is lowered downwards with elbows bend to 90 degrees and the face should almost touch the floor in 2-3 seconds.
  • Then, the body is gradually raised with elbows pushing the floor away in 1 second, keeping back straight.
  • Repeat the same steps and take rests in the middle to avoid muscle fatigue.
  • The workout must be concluded with simple cool-down exercises and stretches.
  • Push-ups must be done in the correct method to achieve satisfactory results and prevent any muscle strain or injury.


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Solan M. ed. The Rise of Push-Ups: A Classic Exercise That Can Help You Get Stronger. Harvard Health Publishing. February 18, 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/rise-push-ups-classic-exercise-can-motivate-get-stronger-2019021810165

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