You can’t go to the gym? You don’t have a gym membership or don’t know what you’re doing? PERFECT! You’ve got all you need – your body! Body weight exercises are among the most simple, yet most effective exercises. If you have a body, then you can do a bodyweight push-up. Chances are that if you’re currently doing push-ups, you may be doing them wrong and possibly need to regress just a bit. This isn’t a bad thing. Learning the correct way to do a push-up could have tremendous effects on your training.

Before I start, I want to be clear that I am talking about regular push-ups. We don’t do kneeling push-ups. Kneeling push-ups take away the need to use your core – making you really good at kneeling push-ups, but nothing more than that. If you are reading this and can’t do a body weight push-up, don’t roll your eyes and move on. I am going to show you several variations that will help you progress.
Before I dive into push-up variations, I want you to understand how the push-up is a full body workout. Push-ups develop the pressing muscles on the front of your body. Your pecs, anterior deltoid, and triceps are all working here along with the muscles in your forearm and hands. When done correctly, you have additional muscles that work to stabilize your body and keep yourself locked in place. These include your lats, spinal muscles, core, hip, glutes, quads, and shin muscles. This makes this exercise a complete full body workout. If any of these muscles are too weak, the entire link gets thrown off.

Wall Push-up
The very first step in the series of push-ups is the wall push-up. This is what I recommend for starters. At the very least, this acts as a good warm-up – as it will increase blood flow to the joints in your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.


Keep your feet together and place your palms on the wall. Lower yourself until your forehead touches the wall and push away.

Inclined Push-up
The second type of push-up in the progression is an inclined push-up. Here, you’re basically lowering yourself to the ground. You can achieve this with a box (pictured below) or a barbell on a Smith Machine. HINT: That is the only good use for a Smith Machine.


Same as last time, feet together, lower until your chest hits the box. When you’re able to perform 15-20 reps of this with good form, you’re ready to lower the box or barbell.

Half Push-up
Now that you are progressing, it’s time for the half push-up. To do this, you’ll need a basketball, medicine ball, or a soccer ball.


Place the ball under your hips, lower yourself until the hips touch the ball and come back up. When you are able to do 15-20 reps with form that looks like this, raise the ball to chest level before moving on to the full pushup.

Bodyweight Push-up
Now that you’ve mastered the technique, it’s time to try to bodyweight push-up. For this you can use a tennis ball or a water bottle (pictured below).


Place water bottle at the center of your chest, lower yourself all the way down until you touch and come all the way back up. Again we are looking for 15-20 clean reps before moving on to the next level.

Close Grip/Diamond Push-up
You want to another challenge? Try this on. For the close grip or diamond pushup, touch the index fingers together and lower yourself down until your chest touches your hands and go back up all of the way.

As you can see with proper progression the push-up is tough, but can certainly be mastered. The key is not to give up. Understand that we do not master exercises overnight. Strength is something we build upon a little at a time. Take the time to learn simple exercises and you’ll be progressing steadily.
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Sample workouts: On a cable machine use a rope attachment, perform 20 reps of triceps press and then perform 10 pushups. This is good especially for triceps development and works really well as a finisher for your workout.

400 meter run 20 pushups. Do this for a desired amount of distance or reps. I typically do these when training for a spartan race or a mudrun. In events such as that you’re combining both a cardio element and strength element.

Thought of the week: Have you ever noticed the “health coaches” and “Beach body” coaches are always encouraging you to take supplements and oftentimes without ever knowing what your diet looks like?