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Push Ups: How-to, Useful Tips, Common Mistakes + FAQ

Without a doubt the most famous chest exercise that you can do with just your body weight: push-ups. Push-ups are a way for many novice exercisers to get acquainted with strength training because they can do them easily and quickly from home.

But push-ups are much more than an easy exercise you can do at home. It is an exercise that will help you build serious strength and also muscle mass in the pectorals and triceps.

On this page, you can read all the information you need to know how to perform push-ups and what you can use them for.

Which muscles do you train with push-ups?

As you undoubtedly know, you train your chest muscles with push-ups. However, it absolutely does not stop here. Quite logical, but during a push-up you also use your arms and especially your triceps.

In addition, you can also perform the movement in such a way that you put more emphasis on your triceps than on your chest. You can do this by placing your hands closer together.

Your shoulders are also well used to successfully complete a set of pushups. The extent to which again depends on how you place your hands.

Finally, the muscles around your core are also used to keep your body stable and balanced. All in all, push-ups are a great exercise to strengthen upper body.

push up chest workout

Performance of push-ups

View the step-by-step explanation of the push-ups here. Apply all these steps carefully and work on a correct execution for this exercise.

1. Get on your knees

A good starting point is on your knees, for example on a mat. See if there is enough room to stretch your body without obstacles in the way

2. Place your hands on the ground

Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width in front of you. Extend your arms so that they are at a 90-degree angle to the floor. Also, straighten your legs so that only your feet are touching the floor.

3. Lower your chest to the floor in a controlled manner

Lower your chest in a controlled manner by bending your arms. Make sure that your elbows do not go out completely, but that you push them obliquely back, as it were. You will also notice that you are now pushing your shoulder blades inward. Try to go low so that your nose can touch the floor without moving your neck down.

4. Keep tension on your body throughout the movement

Make sure your abs and buttocks are well contracted to maintain a correct position. This keeps your upper body in a neat straight line during the performance.

5. Push yourself up again in a controlled manner

Make sure to push your upper body back up until your arms are straight. Make sure that your body remains well contracted during the upward movement so that you maintain a neat form.

6. Repeat this as many times as you want

Repeat this movement until you have achieved the desired number of reps. Not sure what to start with? Try doing eight reps per set. If you manage to do more, that's fine of course.

Is the normal variation of push-ups too easy for you? Then read on, as we will discuss different variants and describe ways to make printing more challenging. First, however, we will work out the most common mistakes and variations.

Most common mistakes

With the standard implementation of push-ups, some mistakes are sometimes made. Therefore, read the list of common mistakes below and prevent yourself from making these mistakes.

  1. Pushing Elbows Out Too Far
    This is probably the most common mistake when performing pushups. In the downward motion, heaps of people tend to push their elbows out. This puts more tension on the shoulders than you actually want. This ensures that the chest muscles have to work less hard, while you want them to do as much of the work as possible.

    In addition, your shoulders are more sensitive to injuries. Doing push-ups in this way puts a lot more pressure on the shoulder, which could lead to injuries.
  2. Hollow back during the movement
    A mistake that is often made when doing push-ups is not keeping the upper body tense enough. This creates a hollow lower back so that you can no longer perform the movement correctly. Therefore, always try to make sure that your abdominal muscles are firmly tightened. Are you unable to complete a set of push-ups because your back keeps getting hollow? Then try to pay some extra attention to exercises to strengthen your core.
  3. Not Lowering Deep Enough
    The third and final mistake that is often made while doing push-ups is not going down enough with the upper body. The bottom part of a push-up is often the heaviest, so many people (unconsciously) avoid this. So really try to sink as deep as possible, until your nose can almost touch the floor.

Different variants

There are many different types of push-ups you can do. Because we would like to make this explanation as complete as possible, we will discuss these variants one by one. Then we worked out a few more fun push-up challenges and some frequently asked questions.

Push-ups against the wall

The easiest way to learn push-ups is to do them against the wall. This is a lot easier than the regular push-ups, but it does allow your chest muscles to get used to the effort. Are you unable to do a normal push-up and are push-ups from your knees also heavy? Then this variant is perfect to start with.

Stand some distance from the wall and place your hands in front of you, against the wall. Now lower your upper body until your nose does not hit the wall. While lowering toward the wall, push your shoulder blades in, chest out, and elbows down. Do all this in a calm and controlled manner and you will feel that your muscles are being put to work.

Is this variant going to be too easy? Then you can make the push-up a little more difficult by doing this on the floor, but from your knees.

Push-ups from your knees

The execution of these push-ups is the same as that of the normal variant. The only difference is that your knees are now allowed to touch the ground. This makes the movement easier and you can perfectly practice for normal push-ups.

While doing push-ups, focus on the same points we discussed in the execution above. This way you ensure that your execution is as efficient as possible.

Push-ups from an elevation

By placing your lower legs on an elevation, you change the angle of the pushups. This way you use the top of your chest and your shoulders a little more. The closer you are to the raise, the greater the angle from normal pushups. You will also find that you are stronger in one corner than in another.

By varying your normal push-ups with this variation, you ensure that your chest muscles are also stimulated from a different angle. Such variation is good for the general development of your muscles. So especially if you train at home and only do push-ups for your chest muscles, it is good to alternate these with different variants.

Diamond push-ups

This variation of push-ups mainly targets the triceps. You should place your hands close together so that the triceps will do most of the work. The name diamond comes from the way you hold your hands. The tips of your index fingers and thumbs should be close together, while your fingers should be straight. So, as it were, you make the shape of a diamond with your hands.

Pay close attention to your elbows during the downward movement. These should stay close to your body. Again, make sure your shoulder blades are pushed in so that most of the power is not coming from your shoulders but from your triceps.

Push-ups with push-ups

During the push-up, it can happen that you get pain in your wrists. Because your hands are flat on the floor, there is a lot of pressure on the wrists. This can be prevented by using push-ups. this relieves your wrists compared to normal push-ups and allows you to sink deeper.

Push-ups with clap

Do you want to make the regular variant a bit more difficult and practice your explosiveness? Then you can try push-ups with claps. The execution is the same as with the normal push-ups, only now you have to explosively push yourself up.

When coming up, both hands should come off the ground and clap your hands. Then land on your hands again and repeat for the desired number of reps.

The risk of this push-up variant is that you can make an ugly smack on your face if you're not explosive enough. So only try this if you are confident that it will work.

Push-ups from handstand

This is without a doubt one of the most difficult ways to do push-ups. Unlike most push-ups where the focus is on the chest, the handstand push-up focuses on your shoulders. First of all, you need to be able to do a handstand.

Usually, people do these against the wall so that they are stable and less likely to lose their balance.

Then you should lower down until your head just barely touches the ground. Now push yourself back up until you are back in a full handstand. Focus on your balance throughout the movement and maintain tension. After all, you don't want to fall on your head, of course.

One Arm Pushups

For the real die-hards among us, there are the one-arm push-ups. Balance is very important and you will find that the technique is difficult to master in the beginning. For example, you will have to spread your legs further for balance and the lowering of the body will also feel very strange.

Of course, this variant is not for everyone and you will notice that, even if you are very strong in normal push-ups, the push-ups with one arm will not be easy. Practice makes perfect and if you practice often enough you will certainly succeed.


Want to add some extra challenge to your push-ups? Here we have explained two ways that you can make the standard way of printing a lot more challenging. This not only makes it fun but also a bit more difficult.

Extra weight on the back

Do you want to make a regular push-up more difficult? Then place some weight on your back. For example, you can ask someone at the gym to place a 10kg, 15kg, or 20kg disc on your back.

Don't have anyone to request this? Then fill a book bag with heavy objects and put it around your back. This way you can still do push-ups with extra weight, without someone having to help you. You can also use a weight vest to make it more challenging for yourself.

Paused press

Another way to add more challenges is to pause for a few seconds. For example, pause two seconds between completing the downward movement and starting the upward movement. For example, you have to keep the body tense and you learn to tighten all muscles during the exercise.

Push-ups with elastics

By using elastic bands (also called resistance bands), the upward movement becomes increasingly difficult. The further you push out, the more tension on the elastic. You can use different types to make the movement harder and harder.

Frequently Asked Questions About Push-Ups

To conclude this explanation about push-ups, we will discuss a number of frequently asked questions here. This way you are fully aware of all information about imprints and you can get started well prepared.

How can you build up pushups?

You can easily build this up by starting with the easy variants that we explain on this page. For example, you can start with push-ups against the wall and then replace it with the variant where you leave your knees on the floor. If this also works well, you can try the full push-ups.

How many push-ups per day?

You often see programs where you have to do x number of push-ups every day to achieve a certain goal. It is not necessary to do this every day. Also, give your muscles enough time to recover and thus start the next workout sufficiently rested.

So there is no minimum number of push-ups that you have to achieve per workout. You feel every day how strong you feel. Is the push-up going well and are you able to do more repetitions of the previous workout? Then you make nice progress. Doesn't this work? Then nothing is wrong. Just try again the next workout and maybe you'll have a better day.

When will you see the results?

Of course, it differs greatly per person when you start seeing results. If you do not train further and if you have never trained before, you will soon see changes in your body. If you already train regularly, the result will take a little longer, because your body is of course already used to a few things. Set realistic goals for yourself and even if the ultimate goal takes a little longer than hoped, you're doing well anyway.

Push-ups vs bench press, which one is better?

This completely depends on what your goal is. Looking at building muscle mass, bench press will be better. You can add more resistance here in the long run, so there is more room to make the exercise heavier. With imprints, this may be there, but it is a lot more limited.

If you really have to choose between one of the two exercises, we would choose the bench press. Doesn't matter? Then you can safely add both exercises to your training schedule.

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