Joschi NYC
5 min readMay 8, 2020


Push ups are one of the most effective foundational bodyweight exercises you can do to train your upper body. However, while they look like a deceptively simple exercise, a lot of people make a surprising number of mistakes when attempting to do the perfect push up.

Push ups are extremely powerful, a great indicator of your overall strength and a cornerstone of any proper workout program. But reality is, if you perform a push up the wrong way, it’s a waste of your precious time. But if you can perfect the technique, you can actually tweak a push up to not only target your chest, arms and shoulders but also your abs, glutes and quads.

Most people have a love-hate relationship with push ups despite the fact that they are a great full-body exercise. They also come with a ton of benefits. For one they increase functional strength, improve whole body muscle definition, enhance our cardiovascular system, and improve our posture. On top of that, they strengthen and stretch our muscles at the same time, prevent lower back injuries, increase testosterone, and help to create balance and stability.

So how do you actually perform the perfect push up? We’ve put together the secrets to performing the perfect push up so you can build power and strength with this amazing exercise and develop your dream physique.

#1 Screw Your Hands Into the Floor
Plant your palms firmly on the floor, a little wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Simultaneously press the palms down while twisting them as if you wanted to open a jar of tomato sauce. The twist will force your elbows and biceps to externally rotate so that they face forward and with that naturally provide tension for your arms, shoulders and upper back.

#2 Keep Your Body Straight
Your body should move as one solid unit in a straight line from your heels to the top of your head, which means you don’t sag at the hips nor do you stick your butt into the air. Brace your core and tuck the tailbone slightly under to achieve a straight body and keep everything tight as you lower and lift your body through your push ups. Imagine you are a solid table top and keep every muscle from head to toe engaged as a rock-solid unit.

#3 Let Your Shoulders Float
Pull your shoulders away from the ears and let the shoulder blades float on your back. A lot of people sink into their shoulders, shrug the shoulders up to the ears and / or round the upper back when performing a push up, but that is only putting you at risk for injury and messes with proper alignment. Engage the muscles on your back and imagine that you are trying to pull the shoulders down to your feet while floating on your back.

#4 Squeeze Your Glutes
When you relax your glutes, your lower back is naturally being pulled towards the floor, but if you squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, you stabilize your core and pelvis and remove stress from your lumbar spine. And an added bonus is that squeezing the glutes transforms the push up from an upper-body workout into a full-body move, activating the core and lower body as well.

#5 Lead with Your Chest
Leading with your chest has the great advantage that you avoid sagging at the hips or bobbing your head. Additionally, if you pull your chest towards the ground, you prevent using gravity to your advantage and with that you do the actual work instead of letting gravity do it for you. As you lower down into your push up, focus on using your upper back and lats to control your downward movement as if you were pulling yourself down.

#6 Use Full Range of Motion
Most people stop short of the perfect push up because they just slightly bend their elbows or simply bob their head, but using full range of motion means that you lower your chest down to the ground by bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Make sure the elbows are at a 45-degree angle to your body and you keep your body in one straight line.

#7 Don’t Drop Your Head
To get the best head and neck position, pick a spot about 6 to 10 inches in front of your fingers on the floor and keep your gaze focused on it as you perform a push-up. This will help you to keep your neck in a straight line along with the rest of your body and you can avoid risk of injury by either tilting your head too far upward or allowing it to reach towards the floor. Bobbing your head is not performing a push up, so keep your neck line neutral and maintain control over your movement.

#8 Inhale Down, Exhale Up
Using the breath allows you to push yourself harder and further. As you lower down towards the ground take a deep inhale and as you push back up, exhale as much air as possible and feel your core muscles contracting at the same time. That added tension in your core will allow you to increase your stability and pushing power for stronger, better reps. Keep in mind, a yoga push up — the chaturanga — uses the breath the opposite way… Exhale as you lower down, inhale as you come up.

Whether you are just starting out to exercise or you’re a professional athlete, push ups are a total-body move that can work every major muscle group if you do them correctly. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of our above tips at once, just start implementing one or two, master them and then focus on a couple more until you can perform the perfect push up.

If you are looking for more ways to work your chest, check out our ‘CHEST & ABS WORKOUT‘.

Joschi & Monika

Follow us on YourTube, Instagram and Facebook for more useful tips, tricks and hacks.



Joschi NYC

Fitness | Yoga | We help you to get out of your head and into your body ➡️ Yoga Teacher Training ➡️ Mind-Body Optimization Training