How to... do pushups

Push-ups are the first exercise.

During the first few months of life, infants prop themselves up on their elbows and eventually push themselves up onto all fours to crawl — the mechanics of this movement is in fact a push-up.

This weightbearing activity helps babies develop strength in several key muscles. Once we’re up and walking, push-ups can help to maintain this strength throughout our lifetimes.

Push-ups can also contribute to better posture and help protect your back from injury and strain.

Jane Hein, group exercise director with the Rochester Athletic Club, explains how it’s done:


  • Assume a position on all fours (hands and knees).
  • Position hands directly underneath shoulder joints, fingers pointing straight ahead, elbows fully extended.
  • Extend legs back and weight bear on toes/forefoot, or allow knees to remain in contact with floor.
  • The torso and legs assume a long line; engage abdominals and buttocks to make sure low back doesn’t sag toward the floor, keep head in line with the spine — this is known as a plank position.
  • Bend elbows and lower whole body towards floor, maintaining a long line through torso and legs.
  • Lower to a point you can control — the lowest point is just a few inches from the floor. Your chest should be slightly lower than parallel to the level of your arms.
  • Extend elbows and push back up to start (plank) position.

Begin with 3-5 repetitions, then progress to two sets of 10 done at least 2-3 times per week.
Neil Tardy

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