Exercise of the Week: Push-Ups

 In Mobility & Movement Blog

Luke Lewitzke

Certified A.C.E. (American Counsel on Exercise) Personal Trainer

Weight and Lifestyle Management Specialist

Push-ups will primarily work your pectoralis major, front deltoid, triceps, and core.  Think about the push-up as a moving plank.

Push-ups are great for developing strength in your chest and triceps and strength and stability in your shoulders, while also developing stability for the spine through strengthening the core muscles.

Performing Push-Ups

  • Start down on the floor on your hands and knees.
  • Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly lower than shoulder height.
  • Step one foot back and then the other to come into a high-plank/push-up position.
  • Put tension into the floor through your both hands and squeeze your inner thighs together and contract your glutes to stabilize your hips.
  • While keeping your entire body rigid and straight, slowly lower your body down towards the floor by bending your elbows.
  • Make sure that your elbows don’t flair out to the sides causing elevation of the shoulders where they move up towards the ears.
  • Your upper arm should have a slight angle down towards your hips.
  • Breathe in while lowering your body down towards the floor and breathe out as you push the ground away from you.


Option 1: On Knees

Option 2: Counter-Top

Two common options for making the push-up easier if you are not able to perform it without maintaining a straight, rigid body is by either dropping onto your knees or using a wall or counter-top to bring your body into an incline.

By performing the push-up from your knees, you are shortening your lever arm (distance from contact points with the ground) and subsequently lessening how much work your core needs to do to stabilize through the hips.

By performing the push-up off of a counter-top, you are lessening the amount that gravity is pushing down on you, lessening the amount of work your arms and chest need to do. As a result, you should be able to move through a greater range of motion.


  • You should not perform the push-up if you feel a sharp pain in your shoulder while performing the exercise.
  • If you feel pain or discomfort in your lower back, this is an indication that you are most likely dropping your hips during the movement. Regress to either the knees or counter-top/wall to make it easier.