Push-Up Workout Guide: The Best Push-Up Exercises

Posted On Sep 3, 2018 By BowFlex Insider Team

A fit woman performing push ups. Push-Up Workout Guide: The Best PushUp Exercises

The push-up is a versatile exercise that can be modified in an almost infinite number of ways. No matter your fitness level, you can utilize the push-up exercise to challenge yourself. Whether you’re looking for push-up workouts, push-up variations, or building the strength to perform your very first push-up, this workout guide will push you (pun intended) toward your greatest heights.

Ready to get started? Go directly to the push-up workout and challenges.

What Is A Push-Up?

A push-up, or press-up, is a common body-weight exercise performed by repetitively raising and lowering the body with the arms. Push-ups are considered to be one of the most functional exercises, as you can perform them just about anywhere.

Why Focus On Push-Ups?

  • Simplicity: You can do push-ups anytime, anywhere with no equipment.
  • Scalability: You can modify the push-up to challenge your current level of fitness.
  • Functionality: The push-up is a functional movement that helps you perform everyday activities, as well as improve sports performance.
  • Time-saver: The push-up is a compound exercise, working more than one muscle group at a time.
  • Effectiveness: Everyone is looking for the greatest results in the shortest amount of time, and the push-up is one of the few exercises that delivers.

What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work out?

The human body and some of its muscles. Primary and secondary muscles worked by a push-up are highlighted.

When performed properly, the muscles worked during a push-up include three main muscle groups: chest, shoulders, and triceps. Specifically, the push-up will work the pectorals, triceps, anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, and the midsection. That’s a lot of engagement for such a simple movement!

How To Perform A Proper Push-Up

In order for push-ups to truly work their magic, you must perform your push-ups with proper form. Far too many people perform this exercise incorrectly, which leads to diminished results. Form is crucial!

How To Do The Perfect Push-Up

Here Are The Steps To Perform The Perfect Push-Up:

  1. Lay on your stomach. Place your hands at a distance that is slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your wrists should be lined up beneath your shoulders. When performed correctly, a wide or narrow hand position can deliver effective results.
  2. Keep your body in a straight line so that your chest, arms, and shoulders do all the work. This will require you to line everything up. Tilt your pelvis backward and keep your glutes squeezed tight.
  3. Go all the way up, and ALL the way down if you can. Decreasing your range of motion in any way will decrease your results.
  4. When you descend, your shoulder blades should come together.

Push-Ups For Beginners

If you're a person who thinks there is no way you could do a single push-up, we are here to tell you - you can! It may just take a little time to build your upper body strength using some push-up variations.

This video will show you how to build your way up to a standard push-up by going through transition steps, starting with a very easy variation of a push-up, that will help you build your arm strength and eventually get you to a standard push-up.

How To Perform Push-Up Variations

With almost an infinite number of variations to choose from, different versions of push-ups will keep you mentally stimulated as well as recruiting different muscle fibers to keep you seeing results. Here are seven advanced versions of the push-up to add to your exercise toolbox:

7 Advanced Push-Up Variations

With almost an infinite number of variations to choose from, different versions of push-ups will keep you mentally stimulated as well as recruiting different muscle fibers to keep you seeing results. Here are seven advanced versions of the push-up to add to your exercise toolbox.

  1. Diamond push-ups

    These increase demand on the triceps and shoulders. In a standard push-up position, put your hands close together so your index fingers and thumbs touch to form a diamond shape.

  2. Push-ups with a clap

    Targets fast twitch muscle fibers. While ascending, push-up explosively, performing a clap before your hands descend to the floor.

  3. Push-ups with a slide

    Places more emphasis on the core. Slide your non-working arm out along the floor in front of your body.

  4. Push-ups with alternating raised legs

    More emphasis on the glutes and hips. Extend your hip to lift your foot off the floor, keeping the knee extended. Avoid hip rotation.

  5. Spider-man push-ups

    More emphasis on the chest. As you descend, lift your foot and swing it out sideways, attempting to touch your knee to your elbow.

  6. Knee-to-opposite-elbow push-ups

    Core and flexibility. While descending, bring the knee under you to the opposing elbow.

  7. Eccentric push-ups

    Eccentric contractions are good for building muscle fiber and function as a great stepping stone toward push-up mastery. Descend slowly until arms are parallel or chest taps the floor. Think of it like a 5-second count on the way down. While ascending, push-up with standard speed.

Push-Up Workout

Two-Minute Plank And Push-Up Workout

Here is a two-minute plank and push-up workout to add to your growing toolbox of micro-workouts.


  1. Straight Arm Plank (beginner)
  2. Bent Arm Plank (intermediate)
  3. Plank with Alternating Leg Lifts (advanced)


  1. Knee push-ups (beginner)
  2. Regular push-ups (beginner/intermediate)
  3. Spider-man push-ups (advanced)

Mix and match these different variations as needed to create the workout level that is right for you.

Push-Up Challenges

30-Day Push-Up And Crunch Challenge

Here's a simple 30-day push-up and crunch challenge. The goal is to do the required number of exercises throughout the day, breaking them up into whatever number of sets you wish.

30 day, 5 week calendar alternating between push-ups and crunches.

Three-Minute Push-Up Challenge

Think you’re pretty strong? This challenge incorporates four different kinds of push-ups done for 30 seconds each, with just 10 seconds of recovery time in between sets.

What this push-up challenge entails:

  • Push-ups (regular) - 30 seconds
  • Rest - 10 seconds
  • Diamond push-ups - 30 seconds
  • Rest - 10 seconds
  • Leg lift push-ups - 30 seconds
  • Rest - 10 seconds
  • Spider-man push-ups - 30 seconds
  • Rest - 10 seconds

End with a 20 second chest stretch by putting your hands behind your head and gently pulling your elbows back to stretch the chest.

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