If you find yourself quaking at the mere thought of doing push-ups, or if you assume that it takes thousands of hours of training to be able to do 10 push-ups, don't worry! We're here to advise you on the best way to train, no matter your fitness level. Here's a quick overview to help you find your favorite type of push-up!
How to do push-ups correctly: what's the right position?
Doing a push-up is all very well. But doing it efficiently is even better!
The first step is to understand the movement. A classic push-up is the action of lifting your body using your arms and upper-body muscles, with your hands flat on the floor. It's a huge challenge that can easily discourage beginners or anyone who isn't a super serious sportsperson.
The second step is to position yourself correctly for your push-up:
- keep your body tensed;
- keep your head in line with your spine;
- place your hands flat on the floor, with your fingers pointing forwards;
- position your palms about twice shoulder-width apart.
If you experience pain in your wrists, or if the flat hand position is uncomfortable, you may want to get yourself some push-ups bars. They give you a different hand orientation, relieving pressure on the wrist joint. You can also get straps that you hang from to make the starting position either easier or harder. Plus, they're portable so you can take them anywhere.
The final step involves performing the push-up correctly. There are three key points to remember:
- keeping your head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in line throughout the movement;
- touching the floor with your nose, chest and hips at the same time;
- straightening your arms to push your body back up.
How to adapt the movement when you're a beginner
From wall push-ups to push-ups on your knees and diamond push-ups, there are all sorts of variants!
What is progressive overload?
In short, it means making constant increases.
If you copy Spiderman and try to do archer push-ups too quickly, you risk injuring yourself or being so achy that you'll never want to attempt another push-up again. Remember that everyone's goal is different, from improving physical fitness to getting into sport and building strength. No matter the goal, consistency is the key to achieving it.
In short, don't go all-out in a single session. Take things gradually instead.
How can you use the progressive overload principle to easily do push-ups?
Simplify the push-up by adjusting the angle of your body - but make sure to keep your back straight at all times. This can reduce the amount of weight going through your arms, making the push-up mentally easier too.
- do a push-up against the wall;
- do your push-up standing up but with your hands on a table to increase the angle of your body compared with a wall push-up;
- do your push-up with your knees on the floor and your hands on a bench;
- do your push-up with your knees on the floor and your feet lifted;
- do a classic push-up;
- do a push-up on just one foot;
- do push-ups with your feet on a bench to reverse your body's incline.
Don't forget to:
- place your hands flat;
- keep your head in line with your spine;
- keep your head, shoulders, hips and knees in line;
Will push-ups make you lose weight?
Weight loss relies on getting the right balance between energy intake and energy expenditure. The energy required to do a normal push-up is greater for beginners than for experts who, thanks to repeated training, won't need to put as much effort into performing the movement.
Different people will therefore need to do different numbers of reps and sets depending on their fitness levels and goals.
Push-ups can contribute to weight loss if they're done as part of an all-round training program. This is why it's worth working with a trainer who can adapt your workouts and guide you on your fitness journey.
Will push-ups make your arms bigger?
We often incorrectly assume that push-ups will make our arms and upper-body muscles, such as our pecs, get really big. To get bigger arms, you'd need to do thousands of hours of push-ups. Rather than giving you huge arms, doing push-ups on a regular basis builds your strength and gives you more toned, sculpted muscles.
Which muscles do push-ups train?
Push-ups mainly build upper-body muscle, particularly the shoulders, triceps, pecs and back. The muscle zones that you work will vary depending on the type of push-up you do and how far apart your hands are. For example, with your hands closer together, your shoulders and triceps will have to work harder. On the other hand, by spreading your hands further apart, your pecs will get more of a workout. And the rest of your body gets a workout too, especially your core muscles and abs.