Push-up exercise


Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Sternal (lower) Pectoralis Major
  • Synergists: Clavicular (upper) Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, Triceps Brachii
  • Dynamic stabilizer (not highlighted): Biceps Brachii (short head only)
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Get on your hands and knees, with your arms positioned a little wider than shoulder width.
  2. Extend your feet backward and straighten your body.


  1. Keeping your body straight and elbows slightly tucked in, inhale as you lower your chest to the floor by bending your elbows.
  2. Exhale as you reverse the motion and push your body back up to the starting position.
  3. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keeping your elbows slightly tucked into your body reduces the pressure on your shoulder joints.
  • To make the exercise easier, do it on your knees (knee push-up), or elevate your body by placing your hands on the edge of an elevated surface, such as a bench (incline push-up).
  • To make it more difficult, wear a weighted vest, load a chain around your torso, get someone to hold a weight plate on your back (weighted push-up), or try the decline push-up against a wall. Take a look at one of the many advanced push-up variations presented in the second video.
  • When compared with the barbell bench press, the push-up produces much more core activation (because you have to keep your body straight) and helps you to develop more functional strength. The push-up also promotes shoulder health and flexibility by working your serratus anterior—something that the bench press doesn’t do. Therefore, try to incorporate the exercise into your workouts. One way you can do this is to superset the bench press with the push-up (that is, after a set on the bench, without resting, hit the floor for some push-ups). You can also just alternate between the two exercises.
  • See also the pike push-up and the side push-up.

Push-up videos

Muscle activation


Advanced push-up variations


Similar Posts