push ups

Push Ups – How To Do Them Correctly

Push ups are for everyone: beginners, advanced and professionals. Here you can find out everything you should know: correct execution, common mistakes, push-up variations, calorie consumption and more!

The Push Up is a classic in fitness training. It can be trained anywhere and does not require any additional equipment. A push up not only looks good, it is a real fitness all-rounder. By lowering and pushing up the body in a horizontal position, not only are several muscles exercised, but coordination, flexibility, strength endurance and the sense of balance are also trained. So it is not surprising that the push-up is part of the basic training of the military and police.

Which muscles are used in push ups?

When you think of the push-ups, you automatically think of the chest training. However, this idea does not quite do justice to the push up. A push up works far more muscles than you thought.

Primarily trained / stressed muscles:

  • Large and small pectoral muscles (M. pectoralis major and minor): Are responsible for the lifting and adduction of the arms and push you upwards during a push up.
  • Triceps / arm extensors / three-headed arm muscles (M. triceps brachii): Work closely with the chest muscles and are responsible for extending the arm. Push you up with me.
  • Anterior part of the deltoid muscle (M. deltoideus pars clavicularis): Supports the chest muscles and triceps when the arms are raised and added.

Secondarily trained / stressed muscles:

  • Large and small rhomboid muscles (Mm. Rhomboidei): pull the shoulder blades back. So you can do a nice deep push-up.
  • Back extensor (erector spinae): stabilizes the spine and keeps it straight Hold yourself in a straight and neutral position (in a line) during a push-up
  • Grader abdominal muscle (M. rectus abdominis): stabilizes the upper body while doing a push-up, hold yourself in a straight and neutral position (in a line)
  • External oblique abdominal muscles (M. qbliquus externus abdominis): stabilizes the upper body. While doing a push-up, keep yourself in a straight and neutral position (in a line)
  • Internal oblique abdominal muscles (obliquus internus abdominis): stabilizes the upper body while doing a push-up, hold yourself in a straight and neutral position (in a line)
  • Transverse abdominal muscle (M. transversus abdominis): stabilizes the upper body. Keeps you in a straight and neutral position (in line) during a push-up
  • Leg extensor / four-headed thigh extensor (M. quadriceps femoris): Keeps the legs straight.
  • Large gluteus muscle (M. gluteus maximus): prevents the pelvis from tilting forward and the formation of an arched back. Helps you keep your upper body straight during push ups.

Do pushups help build muscle?

Every exercise that is performed correctly and with the right intensity (type of execution, sets, repetitions and break times) will make the stressed muscles grow. So does the push-up. Thanks to numerous variation and progression options, everyone – no matter whether you’re a beginner or a sports crack – can make muscles grow with push-ups.

Do pushups increase calorie consumption?

Every movement of the body burns calories. The more complex and strenuous an exercise, the more muscles have to work and the greater the need for energy. Pushups also burn a few calories while doing the exercise. However, the indirect influence is significantly higher. The more muscles that are built, the higher the basal metabolic rate. You burn more calories.

Are Pushups Good For Your Back?

Definitely this question can be answered with a yes, but only if it is done properly. The muscles in the back, which support our upright posture, are addressed by a push-up. The back extensor straightens the spine and keeps it straight. The small and large round muscles pull our shoulder blades backwards.

How to do the push-up correctly?

Definitely this question can be answered with a yes, but only if it is done properly. The muscles in the back, which support our upright posture, are addressed by a push-up. The back extensor straightens the spine and keeps it straight. The small and large round muscles pull our shoulder blades backwards.

Starting position

  1. For a neatly executed push-up, the first thing you should do is kneel on the floor. The hands are placed on the floor about shoulder width apart. The fingers point forward.
  2. The feet are stretched back one after another and set up. The closer your feet are, the better you can build tension in your back and buttocks.
  3. Check the posture of your upper body. Your hands and chest should be in line. The arms are vertical. If this is not the case, push your upper body forward a little.
  4. The body should be in a straight line throughout the exercise. Put your whole body under tension and hold it. Especially the stomach, back and buttocks!

Exercise execution

  1. Slowly bend your arms, pulling your shoulders back and bringing your chest towards the floor in a controlled manner. The elbows point slightly backwards.
  2. Inhale as you move down.
  3. Head in extension of the spine
  4. Go as deep as you can keep the tension in your body.
  5. Push yourself up in a controlled manner at the lowest point
  6. Exhale as you go.

Common push up mistakes

Flared elbows “Elbows at shoulder height” / 90 degree angle

A wanted or unwanted evasive movement that can often be observed is flared elbow. Elbows that are at shoulder height. Flared shoulders often pull the shoulders forward, which can lead to pain in the hand, elbow, and shoulder joint.

Our tip: bring your elbows towards your upper body as if you were trying to pinch something. Tense your buttocks. Screw your palms into the ground. Your fingers should still be pointing forward.

Wrong hand position

Fingertips pointing too far outwards and twisted hands are often related to limited mobility in the shoulder or wrist joint. Similar to squat, you try to get deeper by turning outward. The palms of the hands turned inwards often come from incorrect information. Elbows at shoulder height, T-shape, 90 degree angle.

Our tip: To prevent pain and injuries, the elbows should always point towards the upper body. The fingertips point forward or slightly outward. Twist the palm of your hand into the ground and hold this tension.

Lack of body tension

Anyone who forgets to pay attention to body tension during push-ups quickly falls into an arched back, crooked back or leans their head back. Ouch!

Our tip: Remember, your body forms a line! Your head is an extension of the spine. The view is down! Put your feet close together, contract your glutes, and pull your belly button towards your spine. Check your posture before each new repetition until you have mastered it perfectly.


Faster down than up? If you let yourself “fall” during a push-up, you not only do the exercise incorrectly, but also waste a lot of potential. The lowering movement is the extentric movement, which has a great influence on the training result


Mini pushups don’t get you where you want to go quickly. Always try to train with the full range of motion, this is the only way to be sure that you train all muscles equally. The greater the range of motion, the more muscle fibers are used.

Push-ups variations

As with squats, there are numerous ways to increase or decrease the level of difficulty. So everyone can train with push-ups and build muscles.

Push-ups for beginners

Women’s push-ups or push-ups on the knees. Those who cannot yet manage normal push-ups are often referred to the kneeling push-up. This variant is controversial in the training world. In part, it is represented to learn push-ups on an increase and to slowly work your way down. But not everyone has adjustable push-up furniture or exercise equipment at home.

The knee support is easy to perform as there is around 50% less weight on the upper body and arms. It is important here that the same rules are observed. In particular, it is important to ensure good back, stomach and buttock tension.

Note: With push-ups on your knees, you train your upper body in a similar way to push-ups. When you’ve built up enough strength and switched to normal push-ups, make sure you do a clean exercise. The sequence of movements is slightly different compared to kneeing push ups.

Advanced Push-ups

Anyone who claims you cannot build up muscles with push-ups or they are too easy has not yet tried all the variants.

Close Grip Push Up

The tight push-up differs from the classic push-up in terms of grip width. The hands are closer together and the elbows are completely bent towards the body. As a result, not only does the triceps experience a greater stimulus, but the pectoral muscle is also challenged.

Diamond Push Up

Kneel on the floor like with the classic push-up. Position your index fingers and thumbs so they touch and form a diamond (diamond shape). Now put your feet back one after the other.


Slowly bend your arms and bring your chest to the diamond. You should make sure that your elbows stay close to your body.

Hand Release Push Up

The starting point for the hand release push up is the classic or close grip push up. The push up ends with the complete laying down on the floor. On the floor, the hands are briefly removed from the floor. The elbows are brought towards the ceiling. Then you push yourself up again. The particular difficulty lies in maintaining the body tension with high pressures after removing.

Peak Push Up/ Pike Push Up

The Peak or Pike Push Up is not only used for good chest and shoulder training, it is also ideal for learning a handstand. With the Peak Push Up the body forms a V. The bottom forms the tip. The hands are placed on the floor about shoulder width apart and the bottom is pushed up. Arms and legs should be kept straight as possible. Now bend your arms and bring your upper body towards the floor. Your forehead should touch the floor between your hands. Then push yourself back until your arms are straight.

Explosive Push Up

As the name suggests, this is an explosive form of push-ups. In the starting position you are on your knees. The upper body is upright, the hands are at chest level next to the upper body. Now let your upper body fall towards the floor and catch yourself in the push-up position. Keep your knees on the floor. Explosively push yourself up again until your upper body is in an upright position. Keep your upper body and trunk under tension.

Single Leg Push Up

With push-ups on one leg, the weight is only distributed over 3 points. Coordination and balance are particularly challenged and trained. The starting point is the normal push-up. The balls of the feet are up. Now lift the foot of your choice and hold it in the air. Now bend your arms and bring your chest to the floor. Push yourself up again.

One Hand Push Up

The one-armed push-ups are one of the supreme disciplines. The starting position is the same here as with a classic push-up. However, place your legs back further away from each other. Press them firmly into the ground. If you have trouble keeping your balance, increase the space between your legs.

The greater the distance, the easier the balance can be maintained. Place one hand on your back and screw the other hand firmly into the ground, spreading your fingers as you do so. Put your weight on the arm that is supporting you and bend your arm. Go as deep as you can. The elbow should be directed towards the upper body. Maintain tension in your upper body, especially in your stomach and back. Make sure that your hips don’t sag.

Clapping Push up

The push-ups with clapping are not only nice to look at, but also great strength training. In the starting position you are in normal push-ups. Bend your arms and bring your chest to the floor. Push yourself up explosively at the lowest point. As soon as your arms leave the floor, clap your hands together at the top point. Quickly open it again to catch yourself.

How many pushups should you do?

Since everyone is different in their physique, fitness level and goal, there is no general rule on how many push ups you should be able to do. For muscle building, a slightly supra-threshold stimulus must always occur, this can be the case after 5 push-ups or only after 50 push-ups.

However, the number of push-ups can provide information about a person’s fitness, performance and health status.

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