How to Build Strength to be able to do a Perfect Push-Up

You can get there! And the Olganator is going to tell you how.

Push-ups really are the perfect exercise. You can take them anywhere with you, they work so many muscle groups, and there is a world of variation for all fitness levels. But for every perfect push-up, we see lots of messy ones that just don’t get the job done, and may even cause injuries. Cat Kom is joined by Olganator, the master of the push-up, to talk about how to do them properly. 

Whether you’re doing them from the knees, the toes, or even one-footed, push-up basics remain the same:

  • Place your hands directly below your shoulders
  • Palms/fingers face forward
  • Hands shoulder width apart
  • Drop your chest between your hands
  • Elbows should track straight back behind your shoulders
  • Tailbone should be tucked in, with your hips in line with your spine
  • Tighten your glutes and abs

Some common mistakes:

  • Hands turned in
  • Elbows flaring out like chicken wings
  • Palms out too wide
  • Hips popping up, or wobbly hips

So armed with that information, let’s start with knee push-ups:

  • Toes down, knees down (you’ll get the best hip stability with your toes in position as if you’re doing a toe push-up)
  • Shoulders over your wrists
  • Contract your glutes and abs and drop your chest down between your arms

Once you’ve mastered the knee push-up with perfect form, it’s time for a challenge! To progress toward a traditional toe push-up, start with incline/elevated push-ups.

Lift your knees off the floor, but put your hands on an elevated surface. Keep your body and spine in alignment. Progress toward a smaller and smaller incline until your hands are at the ground. Ideas for incline progression:

  • Hands on a wall (move feet away from wall far enough that it’s challenging you)
  • Hands lower on a table
  • Hands lower on a bench
  • Hands on the floor

Cat suggests you do as many as you can at YOUR hardest level, and then continue at your next level down. If you’re in a class doing 20 push-ups, maybe you can do 5 from your toes and 5 from your knees, and finish with hands on an incline bench. Guess what? Eventually you’ll work up to all 20 from your toes!

Once you master the traditional push-up, there’s a whole world opened up to you. Olga loves the challenge from a variety, like triceps, uneven push-ups (one hand on a higher surface, one on the floor), BOSU® push-ups, and even decline push-ups (your feet are elevated). Her goal is to master one-armed push-ups. What one is your goal? Go get it!

For those body-sculpting, fat-torching workouts that often include lots of push-ups, check out Studio SWEAT and Studio SWEAT onDemand!