An old reliable exercise: The push-up

  • The push-up not only strengthens your muscles, but burns calories.
  • If a regular push-up is hard, try a standing push-up against a wall.

One of the oldest forms of exercise in the world is the push-up. It has been around for thousands of years and was part of soldiers’ military training in ancient India. There are some records that show the Roman emperor Constantine performed push-ups for his health. While still in use by the military, the push-up has become one of the most basic and recognizable exercise of any fitness program.

Why is the push-up good for you?

Push-ups involve just about every muscle in your body and have numerous health benefits. But because push-ups can be hard to do, they have often been used as a source of punishment: “Drop and give me 50!” We need to change our attitude about this old reliable exercise and look at its benefits. The push-up:

  • Strengthens your entire body.
  • Burns calories. Because the push-up involves large muscle groups (arms, legs, back, abdomen) your heart has to pump harder, enhancing circulation and burning oxygen.
  • Protects from lower back and shoulder injuries.
  • Strengthens your core, which in turn helps improve posture and balance.
  • Improves flexibility.
  • Improves your ability to do daily activities.
  • Improves your ability to participate in sports and athletics.
  • Doesn’t cost anything. You don’t need a gym or special equipment. You can do a push-up anywhere.

What is proper push-up technique?

pushup horizontal 1

To reap the most benefit of the push-up and to prevent injury, you need proper push-up technique:

  1. Kneel on an exercise mat or the floor and bring your feet together.
  2. Bend forward and place your palms on the floor beneath your shoulders. Raise your hips and make sure your legs, hips, back, neck and head are in a straight line. Keep your abdomen pulled in.
  3. Lower your chest and head toward the floor by bending your elbows and bringing your shoulder blades together. Try and bring your chin to the floor.
  4. Return to your starting position by pressing upward with your arms. This is one push-up or rep.

Start by trying to do 10 reps or as many as you can do while maintaining proper form. Increase the number of push-ups as you build strength. If this is too difficult, you can try by starting on your knees or doing a stand up push-up against a wall. Remember to keep your hands below your shoulders, keep your back straight and in line, and most important, to breathe.

pushup vertical 1  pushup vertical 2


As you advance, try increasing the difficulty of the push-up by performing one-handed push-ups, push-ups with one leg lifted in the air or extended to the side.


Share this article


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter