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Push-Ups are not just a bodyweight exercise for beginners. When done correctly, they are a fantastic exercise for all athletes who want to build strength and size. Many athletes would greatly benefit from pulling themselves off the bench and getting on the floor for some Push-Ups.
Clever advertisements may try to sell you some gimmick contraption to build an armor-plated chest with Push-Ups. But all you really need is your own body—and a little motivation.
First, understand that Push-Ups are not merely a chest exercise but a total-body movement. If you do them correctly, you'll feel the muscles in your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and even your legs. (To see perfect technique, Watch Army Staff Sergeant Ken Weichert Perform a Push-Up.)
What a Perfect Push-Up Really Is
- Begin in all-fours position with hands directly under shoulders
- Extend legs back and place feet together or slightly apart; your body should be in a straight line from head to toe
- Pull shoulder blades apart as far as possible; this creates a slight rounding of upper back
- Squeeze glutes and abdominals tight
- Attempt to really grip floor with hands
- Everything should feel engaged; if you hold the position long enough, you'll start sweating from it alone
- Keep elbows back at 45-degree angle (this ensures that shoulders will not be overly stressed)
- Lead with chest down to floor (a common errors it to touch floor with abdomen first)
- Maintain control while descending (going down too quickly doesn't allow for efficient energy transfer as you power out at the bottom, even though it may feel easier. Doing perfect Push-Ups is tough work, so come to terms with that!)
- Gently touch chest to floor before pushing off ground as hard as possible
- When you reach the top, lock out elbows to fully stimulate the triceps (if you have lost any tightness anywhere, this is the time to check before you descend into your next rep)
Once you have the form down, perfect Push-Ups should become a staple in your exercise program. Now drop and give me 20!
Try some Push-Up variations: