Pushups are an incredibly popular bodyweight exercise that is found in almost every workout, including being used in a number of training programs such as in the military, school sports, and some martial arts.
Although the exercise may be centuries old, its first recorded mention in Britain was between 1945 and 1950 and has been an essential exercise to include in your workout ever since!
What are Pushups?
The term “pushup” stems from the simple description of the movement being performed: the act of pushing yourself up from the ground. Getting this exercise perfect takes time but is worth it once you master it.
What muscles do Pushups target?
The Pushup primarily targets your chest, arms, and shoulders, but requires support from several other muscles in the body; including but not limited to the abdominals, glutes, quads, erector spinae, and forearms. All of these muscles work together and get stronger with every rep you do.
You can do Pushups in various ways, and some people like to be creative or push themselves to the limit. Ultimately, all forms of Pushups are designed to target the same muscle groups, or are simply a more challenging version of the basic Pushup.
How do I properly perform Pushups?
To begin, get in the starting high plank position with your arms fully extended and with your shoulders, hips, and heels in a straight line.
In a controlled movement, lower your body down until your chest touches the floor, keeping your knees and hips off of the ground at all times.
Your elbows should be close to your body, facing backward to outwards throughout the movement.
Then, lift your whole body by “pushing away from the ground” until your arms are completely extended to complete one repetition.
Remember that you can always check the tutorial videos in the Freeletics app to see Pushups demonstrated at full speed, half-speed, and from multiple angles.
Additional things to keep in mind when training
Pushups are great for building upper body strength, so by including Pushups regularly in your workout routine you will soon have your muscles feeling the burn and getting stronger.
However, it is important that you don’t use Pushups in all workouts as this will result in your body not feeling challenged enough and can result in a fitness plateau. This will happen because, with each repetition, your body adapts and improves its function. So, it’s important to continue to challenge your muscles to improve your strength and physical fitness level.
Common Pushup mistakes to avoid
There are a few common mistakes that people often make when performing Pushups. The first mistake is hand placement. People often place their hands too far apart or too far forward; this puts too much pressure on your shoulders and doesn’t focus on the chest muscles.
Furthermore, spine alignment and hip placement should be very precise, with people either dropping their hips too low or raising them too high. By doing this, it will make the exercise easier but can also increase the risk of injury.
Crossing your feet when doing Knee Pushups is a painstakingly common mistake. Beginners often start with Knee Pushups which helps the perfect form; however, this won’t be beneficial if you cross your knees. The best way to do Pushups on your knees is to uncross your legs and have your toes on the ground. This position makes you squeeze your lower back and glutes, helping you to progress to a full Pushup more quickly and effectively.
Another mistake is valuing reps over form. Pushups aren’t easy, so as tempting as it is to get lazy and drop your form just so you can finish your amount of reps, it's always better to do fewer repetitions with perfect form than more repetitions with bad form. This is because when bad form takes over, you stop effectively targeting the muscles the exercise is designed to target.
Are you struggling to complete a Pushup?
Try using these Pushup variations from the Freeletics app to help you get there. Once you’ve mastered one, progress to the next, and continue until you’re ready to take on the standard Pushup.
- Incline Pushups → Knee Pushups → Negative Pushups
...or are you finding Pushups too easy?
Once you are able to easily perform 10-15 Pushups with perfect technique, challenge yourself with these tougher variations in the Freeletics app:
- Archer Pushups
- Decline Pushups
- Clapping Pushups
- Diamond Pushups
- Diving Pushups
- One-Arm Pushups
- Sphinx Pushups
- Spiderman Pushups
God Workouts in the Freeletics app that incorporate Pushups
Pushups and its numerous adaptations can be found in a handful of Freeletics God workouts including, but not limited to:
Exercise overview by David Wiener, Training and Nutrition Specialist