#HowTo: Pushups

Hardly any exercise is as well known as pushups. Probably every one of us has already tried a pushup and knows how the exercise is done – or at least thinks he knows. In this article I’ll show you how to do pushups correctly and what the most common mistakes are. You can’t do a push-up yet or the classic version is too easy for you? I’ve got you covered and know the right variations of this exercise for you!

Correct execution

Properly done, pushups are a great exercise that can be done anywhere. But unfortunately, pushups are also an exercise that is often done wrong. I’ll show you how to do pushups correctly and what to look out for!

Primarily, pushups train the chest muscles. However, the triceps, the front part of the shoulder muscles and the front sawtooth muscle are trained with pushups as well. With this one exercise, you can cover many muscles of the upper body at once!

When performing the exercise, place your hands at approximately shoulder-width on the floor. Seen from above, the arms should be about 45° from your upper body. Imagine that your hands and your head should form an inverted V. Make sure your elbows are pointing inwards and not outwards.

Reverse V, ellbows inwards
Ellbows outwards

Now you should look towards the ground and stand on your toes with your body strechted out. It is important that you keep tension in your core! Your butt should not be too high and your back should not sag. From the side, your body should form a straight line from the shoulders to the heels.

Straight line between shoulders/heels
Pelvis dropping

Lower your chest to the ground while holding tension in your core. At the bottom you hold the position for a short time and then you push yourself back to the starting position. You have now completed one repetition correctly!

Common mistakes

Position of the arms

One of the most common mistake is the position of the arms! Often the arms are positioned almost at a 90 ° angle from the upper body. For many people it is easier to do pushups this way. However, you will work the triceps less, but put more stress on your shoulder muscles. Too wide a grip can often lead to shoulder problems.


What often leads to shoulder problems as well is the fact that the elbows often point outwards. When your elbows are pointing outwards, that usually means that your palms are turned inwards. This in turn can lead to pain in the wrist. Make sure that your elbows are pointing inwards!


Another common mistake is the speed of the execution. Often, pushups are performed very quickly and not completely with full range of motion. Apart from the fact that you will not work your muscles as best as you could, this often leads to a sloppy and faulty execution as well. Always do pushups in a controlled manner and execute them with good form. Use the full range of motion of your muscles and try to go as far as possible towards the ground.

Line of sight

Often people do not look towards the ground but forward while doing pushups. This can lead to tensions or even or neck pain! So always look towards the ground.

Body tension

One last common mistake is lack of body tension. Often the pelvis drops, especially with several repetitions. Make sure to always keep your body tension!


If you can not do push-ups right now, there are many easier variations that you can work with.

Easier variations

The easiest option is to place your hands on a higher surface instead of on the floor (for example, on the back of a park bench). If you feel safe with this execution and can easily complete 10-15 repetitions, you can go for a lower surface (such as the seat of a park bench). Always go lower!

Lastly, you can already place your hands on the floor, but do not stretch your body out. Instead, position your knees on the floor and do push-ups. If this is uncomfortable for you, you can also put a mat or a towel beneath your knees.

Heavier variations

Regular pushups are no longer a challenge for you? Then there are numerous ways to make this exercise even more challenging.

For example, you can place extra weight (weight plates, a heavy backpack) on your back to make the exercise more difficult. Alternatively, you can also stretch a Terraband between your hands over your back.

Another option is to place your feet higher (for example, on a park bench). That way, your chest muscles are stressed even more.

You can also perform explosive pushups. Push as hard as possible from the bottom position of the pushups and try to push yourself into the air. Your hands will leave the ground. Classically, you can clap with your hands. Here you can keep on increasing, so you can even clap up to 3 times!

Another variation is the one-arm pushup where you only use one arm. For reasons of stability, however, these are usually executed out with a broader positioning of the feet.

These are just a few of many variations for the pushup. Be creative or do some research online. You will surely come across many more challenging pushup variations!

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3 thoughts on “#HowTo: Pushups

  1. Oops… I’ve been doing push-ups wrong all this time (elbows outwards, looking forward). Thanks for the advice, I’ll try fixing my form (although I can barely get through 5 right now lol)

    1. 5 pushups are already great! In the beginning it can feel quite unfamiliar if your elbows point inwards, but your body will adapt quickly!
      Keep pushing!

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