Get The Right Push-Up Form With These Easy Progressions

bad form puts you at a higher risk

When it comes to exercise, push-ups can be classified as a classic. They’ve been around since the early days of bodybuilding and still continue to be one of the most versatile exercises there is. At first glance, the push-up seems easy enough to be done by just about anyone. However, getting the right form when doing push-ups is not as easy.

Your arms, shoulders, core, back, glutes, and legs come into play which makes it important to do it right. Exercising with bad form puts you at a higher risk of getting injured or creating bad postures such as a hunched back, rounded shoulders or forward neck. If you’re new to the gym or want to make sure your push-ups have the right form, try these progressions based on your fitness level.

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High Incline Push-Ups

lower your chest towards the top

High incline push-ups can be done using a high railing or the backrest of a chair. The height puts less stress on your shoulders so that you can focus on maintaining form.

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Stand at the back of a sturdy chair and place your hands on the outer corners of the top of the chair.

Step your feet back until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to toes and your arms are perpendicular to your body.

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Keeping your body as straight and as tight as possible, lower your chest towards the top of the chair.
Inhale as you lower, exhale as you press up.

Low Incline Push-Ups

a park bench or the seat of a chair

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To take things to the next level, find a surface that’s of medium height. You can use a park bench or the seat of a chair.

Turn the chair around so it’s facing you and place your hands on the front edge of the seat of the chair.
Step your feet back until your body forms a straight line.

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Keeping your body as straight and as tight as possible, lower your chest towards the seat of the chair. Press back up to the top and flex your arms. Inhale as you lower, exhale as you press up.

Knee Modified Push-Ups

knees rest on the ground

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Start in a plank position, making sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and wider than shoulder-width apart.

Bend your knees until they rest on the ground. Point your toes up towards the ceiling. Bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the ground, stopping when you are about 1 inch off the ground.

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Press back to the top without moving your hips up or down, the goal is to maintain a straight line from shoulders to knees.

Single Knee Modified Push-Ups

Start in a plank position, making sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and wider than shoulder-width apart.

Place one knee on the ground, pointing your toes to the ceiling. Bend your elbows to lower down into the push-up.

Press your palms down into the ground as you rise back up to the starting position without moving anything other than your arms.

Push lightly into the ground with your knee as you press up to assist the push-up, but do not lift or tilt your hips. Do half your number of reps on one side, then switch to the other side for symmetry.

Full Push-Ups

Start in a plank position, making sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and wider than shoulder width apart.

Your feet should be about the same distance apart. Tighten your core and hips to maintain a straight line from shoulders to feet.

Look straight down at the ground but lift your chin slightly to keep your neck in a neutral position. Bend your elbows to lower down into the push-up.

Press back to the top with a big exhale, flex your arms, chest, and core. Repeat for reps, making sure to use full range of motion with each repetition. (Lower 1 inch from the ground).

When you can no longer maintain form or the depth of the reps, then choose the next modification down so that you can finish all the reps with good form.