How To Do a Proper Pushup Perfectly for Beginners + Modifications

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Hi there, my name is Bob, I’m 70 years old, and I’ve been teaching fitness at my local YMCA for the past 40 years. That’s me on the right over there.

Today I want to share with you how I believe the perfect pushup should be done. This article is meant for beginners and includes some helpful modifications.

The pushup is an exercises that has been around for a very long time.  The pushup or press-up is a popular calisthenic exercise done in the prone position.

The basic pushup has been used in the military and in schools for over 100 years.

The person would try and raise their own body weight up and down using the arms and positioning the body like a plank, very close and parallel to the floor.

It was thought that this exercise worked most muscle groups in the body.

The fitness authorities were probably right because, not only does this movement require the use of major muscle groups, such as the arms and shoulders, but all of the major core muscles are required – transverse abdominis, multifidus, kegel, and the diaphragm.

For beginners, the basic pushup can be challenging.  I suggest that modifications might be the best place to begin.

Here are some exercises that will prepare you for the ultimate pushup such as the Aztec and the 360 pushups, if you’re wanting to go right to the top of the push-up pyramid when it comes to challenges.

But first, here are the modifications for beginners to use, if you aren’t quite ready to do a full push-up yet.

1. Table Pushup

table pushup

Using a gym mat or yoga mat, position your body on your hands and knees, with your hands and knees should with apart.

Your head is in neutral and with your fingers spread and your hands directly below your shoulders, lower your face to the floor.

Of course, your arms bend at the elbow.  Once your nose almost does a touch down, push your body back up into the beginning table top position.

Your toes and knees stay on the mat the entire time.  Do 10 reps.

2.  Knee Pushup

table pushup

With your body in the same starting position as the Table Pushup, raise your feet from the floor placing most of your body weight on your knees.

Double up the matt under your knees if you need to.  Before you head down to the floor with your nose, stabilize your body by pulling your belly button to your spine, and take a deep breath.

As you lower your body keeping your toes off the floor, blow out.  On the way back up, breathe in deeply.  When you suck your belly into your spine, your transverse abdominus muscles will engage.  Do 10 reps.

3.  Incline Pushup

incline pushup

Whether you create a small incline by balancing on your forearms or standing with your hands on a table or wall, make sure you have created some sort of incline with your body.

With your body in a plank position, squeeze your shoulder blades together, pretending to hold something with those blades.  Don’t relax the shoulder blades until the 10 reps are completed.

As with the Knee and the Table Pushup, you are bending your arms at the elbow as you lower you face to the table, wall, or floor – then push away.  Work that diaphragm by blowing out on the exertion.

After you complete 10 reps of each of the 3 pushup types, repeat 2 more sets.

If your are able to complete a total of 30 pushups, you can tell all your friends that you did a complete body workout with only one exercise … the mighty PUSHUP.

Here I am demonstrating each of the above modifications in the video below.  Keep an eye on my form!

Once you have mastered the 3 pushups for beginners, try the basic pushup...

Pushups can be done with shoes or without shoes.  I recommend that as a beginner, you wear your minimus or your most comfortable workout shoes.  Check out this review article on minimus shoes.

Minimus shoes are the closest shoes to no shoes, which is our goal.  Natural movement in a natural whole body state is our ultimate goal.

Just to keep you motivated, we present to you …

The Aztec Pushup with Ed

The 360 Pushup with I Like Doggy

The Press and the Bridge coming soon with BeachBabyBob.

Read my previous articles:

How to do a proper squat with and without weights

How to do a proper lunge with and without weights