The push up is an amazing and versatile bodyweight exercise. It works more than your chest, shoulders and triceps – It works your entire body!

But while the push up is an exercise everyone should include in their workout, it is really only beneficial if you have proper form.

Below is a guide to perfect push up form.

Perfect Push Up Form:

To set up at the top of a push up, lock out your arms and place your feet together so you are in a high plank position. You are squeezing your butt cheeks and drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. Your hips aren’t dropping toward the ground or up in the air toward the ceiling. Your head isn’t tucked toward the ground or jutting forward. Your back is not excessively arched or rounded.

Your hands should be below your shoulders and right outside your chest. Your finger tips should be pointing straight ahead and your hands should be pressing into the ground and away from each other as if trying to tear a piece of paper.

As you lower down, you should lower your chest directly between your hands, keeping a nice straight line with your body. Your elbows shouldn’t flare out from your body. Your elbows should almost make an arrow with your body. Like this (–> ) Your shoulders, elbows and wrists should all be in a straight line. Your body should move as one unit toward the ground.

Your chest should touch the ground when you lower. Your body should move together. Hips shouldn’t move back up first. Everything should lift as one. Don’t let the hips sag or the elbows flare out as you lift. Keep your head in line with your spine.

Press back up to the starting position and lock out your arms.

Full push up



Incline push ups or push ups from the knees make this move easier for beginners so that they can develop perfect form. Incline push ups can be done from the knees or the toes depending on how high the incline.

modified push up

incline push up

Beginners may even want to start with an incline push up with their hands up on a wall.


To progress the standard push up, an advanced exerciser will want to do a decline variation with their feet up on a bench or box.

decline push up

A decline push up with the feet up on a bench.

For some great workouts to help you improve your push ups, check these out: