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How to do a Push Up

What is a push up?

What is a press up

See all press up variations

Press ups are easy-to-perform, suitable for all fitness levels and can be done anytime, anywhere without the need for any kit.

As a compound exercise, they use more than one muscle group at the same time. As a result, they'll give you a great workout, help burn calories, get your blood pumping and leave you feeling energised.

A classic press up does more than just work out your arms. They also work wonders for your shoulders (deltoids), chest (pectoralis major), core (rectus abdominis), hips (obliques) and legs (quadriceps).

If you want to put your strength to the test, here are some press up variations for you to try, ranging in difficulty level from beginners to advanced, that will promote muscle growth and strengthen and tone your upper body.

As with every exercise, quality is more important than quantity so check out the tips below on how to get the most from each and every rep.


  • How many calories you burn doing push ups depends on several factors such as your genetics, weight, reps, etc. There is no magic number and it will vary person to person.

  • Push ups primarily work the chest and triceps. It also works the shoulders, biceps and core. To target your biceps more, you can try the following press up variations: narrow press ups, one arm press up, backward-facing reverse press up.   

  • Push ups can work that abs if you activate the core when performing the move.

  • Push ups require adequate strength and practice to perform.  If you struggle with push ups, you can try to work on strengthening your upper body by performing regressions such as the elevated press up. Some people may have challenges limiting them from doing press ups such as their anatomy or joint issues – if you experience any pain please make sure to consult a doctor or qualified practitioner like a physio.

  • Push ups are a great exercise to improve your upper body strength. You don’t need any equipment to perform this exercise so it’s a great move that can be performed anywhere, whether you’re working out in the gym or at home. There are many variations of press ups which can help target different upper body muscles and cater to different strength abilities so no matter if you’re a beginner or advanced, this exercise is great in building and maintaining upper body strength.

Push up tips

  • Make sure your abs are tight when performing the movement, and avoid pushing your hips back to the sky.
  • Start with your feet hip-width apart. If that's too easy bringing them together will make you work harder to stay stable
  • As you perform each rep, keep them slow and measured and get your chest as near to the floor as possible

Push up variations

How to do push ups from knees or modified push ups

Level: Beginners

Equipment: no equipment required

  1. Start on your knees and place your hands on the ground slightly in front of your shoulders 

  2. Your upper body should be straight and at a 45-degree angle 

  3. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor  

  4. Slowly push back up to the start position

How to do a push up

Level: Advanced

Equipment: No equipment required.


  1. Start in a standard press up position
  2. Place each hand as wide as is comfortable. The wider apart your hands are the harder you will work out your chest 
  3. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor whilst ensuring your abs are tight and your spine is in neutral position.
  4. Slowly push back up to the start position

How to do a tricep press up

Level: Advanced

No equipment required.

  1. Start in a standard press up position 
  2. Bring your hands together so your thumbs and forefingers make a diamond shape in line with your chest 
  3. As you slowly lower your chest towards the floor ensure your elbows go back rather than out 
  4. Slowly push back up to the start position


If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.