How to Do a Push-Up: Beginners Guide

Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises for building strength in the upper body and core. For women, in particular, it’s important to maintain upper body strength throughout life in order to stay independent and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in older years.

Want to learn how do a push-up? Start here.

Push-ups are harder than they look! Supporting your entire body and working against gravity with just your arms is no easy feat!

If you want to master the push-up, you’ll first need to build up some foundational core strength.

Here are two exercises to start with if you want to learn how to do a push-up:


1. Planks

Push-ups require you to control your torso and brace your core, just like you would in a plank. This is a great exercise to add to your strengthening routine if you want to learn how to do a push-up well.

2. Wall Push-Ups

Begin building your upper body strength with wall push-ups. While this variation is easier than a regular push-up, it’s a great introduction and will help you feel confident holding your bodyweight through your arms and controlling the pushing movement.

To do a wall push-up, place your palms (or fists) on a wall at shoulder height and step your feet back so that you’re standing at an angle. Brace your core, then, slowly move your nose towards the wall. Once you’re close to the wall, press through your palms and push your bodyweight back up to your starting position. 

Step 2: Progress to Harder Variations of a Push-Up

So your core is getting stronger and you’re a master of wall push-ups, what next? Rather than going straight into attempting a full push-up, try these two exercises to ease yourself into it. 


3. Couch Push-Ups

Using an elevated object like a couch (or a table) is the stepping stone between a wall push-up and a floor push-up. 

Since gravity is the main resistance to a push-up, the more horizontal your body is, the harder you have to work against gravity to push yourself up.

A wall push-up allows you to stand almost vertically so the resistance is minimal. A push-up performed on a couch or table gets you at approximately a 45% angle – halfway between the wall and the floor.

As you challenge yourself in this new position, make sure that you continue to use good form – no sagging back! 

4. Knee Push-Ups

This variation has a reputation as being “the cheats push-up” since you don’t have to control and lift your entire body weight. But, it’s still a challenging exercise and is a great way to build up your strength in preparation for a full push-up! 

Step 3: The Real Deal, Full Push-Up

There’s only one thing left to do – a full push-up! If your core feels up to the challenge and the other versions of a push-up seem too easy, you’re ready for the real deal. 


5. How to do a full push-up

Place your hands (or fists) directly under your shoulders, brace your core and get into a tall plank position. Then, slowly lower your nose to the ground, maintaining a strong, solid torso. When you get close to the ground, push through your hands and lift yourself back up to the starting position!