The Proper Form For A Basic Push-Up (Video Tutorial)

Push-ups are one of those exercises that appear in almost every routine because they are efficient, don’t require any equipment, and can be done anywhere as long as you have some floor space. Though they might sound like simple exercises, this doesn’t mean they are easy! It might take some practice before you’re capable of performing them well. If you’re a novice, figuring out where to begin may be difficult. This article will provide you with pointers for performing a pushup with good form and some alternative versions of this popular exercise.

First, let’s talk about the benefits that come with push-ups. Have you been avoiding adding push-ups to your workout routine? We get it! But you’re likely doing your body a disservice by leaving them off the list. Push-ups are an incredible tool to have in your arsenal because they are a total body workout. 

A proper push-up engages your core, back, and even your legs. Like with planks, a push-up works the stabilizers and muscular slings, meaning it’s more than just a toner for the upper body! Push-ups target the chest muscles, shoulders, and upper back, which improves your strength for other physical challenges you have in the world outside the gym. Plus, because your core is stabilizing the entire movement, you’ll also be increasing your abdominal strength.

The Correct Way To Perform A Basic Push-Up

Below we’ll show some of our basic push-up tutorials starring Susan Slater, one of our BodyPump™ Instructors. Whether you’re new to the push-up game or just want to recenter your form and make sure you’re doing things right, watch our videos below. We hope you walk away with a new appreciation for this effective full-body exercise.

Basic Push-Up

To start, get your hands down on the floor, just a little bit wider than your shoulders. Then, pop up on your toes. Think of push-ups as a moving plank, where your hips and shoulders drop at the same rate. As you lower yourself to the floor, keep your elbows in mind. You want them to go out, but not all the way flared, meaning you can keep them in just a little bit. 

As you lower down, imagine trying to get your chin to the floor. Leading with your chin will help you maintain that proper neck alignment. You don’t want to tuck your chin into your chest, and you also don’t want to be looking up towards the sky. Lower yourself down so that your elbow is at about a 90-degree angle. 

Start with one, and see how many you can do while maintaining proper form. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro as you get stronger and stronger.

Wall Push-Up

If you’re new to push-ups or recovering from a shoulder injury, a wall push-up is a great place to start. Start by placing your hands outside your shoulders, at about shoulder height. Then, walk yourself away from the wall. The closer you are to the wall, the easier the push-up will be. As you progress and build your strength back up, you can step back a little bit. 

Like if you were on the floor, lower your body closer to the wall, and then slowly push your body away, as many reps as you can. Before you know it, you’ll be on your toes!

Push-Up Variations

There are many different ways to do push-ups, depending on your needs. You can see success whether you’re on your toes, on your knees, or against the wall. The proper way to do a knee push is to place your hands a little wider than your shoulders on the floor. Then, start like a standard push-up, on your toes, in a high plank, just for a second. This high plank will show you exactly where you should drop your knees. 

You’ll take out the core benefit if you bring your knees up too high. So, get on your toes, then drop your knees to get to that full range. To get the most benefit from your push-up, you want to get a big range of motion. It will take some time for your body to learn how to handle the full push-up, so don’t be afraid to embrace a good push-up on your knees before attempting them on your toes. 

It’s much more beneficial for your body to get a full range of motion on your knees than to only lower yourself a fraction of the way down on your toes. Take your time and build up your strength by doing push-ups against the wall or on your knees until you’re strong enough to do a whole body one.

If you practice using the proper form, you’re still going to engage all of your muscles and get a great workout.


Now that you’ve had a review put it to practice! Bring your questions to class and get the corrections and tips you need to make the most out of the work you’re putting in!

Let us know what you think and what new questions we can answer for you!