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Breaking Down the Push Up

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

The humble push up is the ultimate, no-equipment staple exercise for at-home and limited space workouts. Perfecting your push up not only offers increased upper body strength, but it can help you avoid possible injuries during your Yoga chaturanga, increase your core strength, and open your workout routine up to tons of compound movement and extra challenges, all without any weights or equipment.

Let’s get down to basics.

Hand Placement

A simple way to maximize your push up routine is to slightly alter your hand placement in order to target different muscle groups. A few examples include:

  1. Standard: hands shoulder-width apart: your typical push-up — works your upper body, core, and chest.

  2. Wide-set hands: emphasis on your biceps.

  3. Close-set hands: emphasis on your triceps — try placing your hands in a diamond formation or focus on tucking your elbows closer to your body

  4. Staggered set hands: emphasis on stability and core.


Whether you’re busting out one arm push-ups or simply dipping your toe in the push-up pool, there is a modification for everyone. Placing your knees down or using an elevated surface like a bench or wall will help you build up your strength. Remember quality over quantity, it’s important to master your form using modifications before moving on to harder positions in order to prevent injury and ensure success. If you’re looking for a challenge you can always play around with your foot placement, lifting or stacking your feet will introduce additional core activation. You can also work with your tempo to create a slower burn, fluctuate your heart rate, or just keep things from getting too monotonous.

And of course, don’t forget to stretch all those upper body muscles you just worked!


Contributor: Olivia Iannelli

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