*Scroll down to watch the video!
We have the tendency to think of working out and heading to the gym as a competitive “exercise” in vanity, one where we’re constantly “fighting” with our bodies to look a certain way. The issue of whether to go to the gym, or not go to the gym, becomes polarized in our imagination: either I exercise, or I don’t.
While our initial drive to start exercising might be for aesthetic reasons – to lose weight and build sexy muscles – other things start to happen as a result. You start to experience your body in a new way. You become more aware of your body and how it works. You learn that your body isn’t something you need to fight with; your body is an amazing machine designed by nature to be strong, confident, and functional.
I like to think of push-ups as a “gateway” exercise into the fitness world because they give you a wonderful taste of what your body can do, instilling a sense of confidence and awareness that goes beyond vanity. While the push-up is not only fantastic for beginners, it’s also a foundational movement for even the most elite athletes. The list of benefits are endless, but below I’ve listed a few of the main ones.
Four Reasons Why the Push-Up Is Your Friend
The Push-Up Is a Safe Exercise
The push-up uses your own body’s weight – weight you’re accustomed to carrying around with you all day. This helps to prevent injuries associated with isolation movements. For the most part, the worst thing that can happen with a push-up is if your muscles reach failure and you flop onto the floor. Be mindful of push-ups that are shoulder intensive (like a grasshopper push-up) as the shoulder can be vulnerable to injury.
The Push-Up Is a Compound Movement
Compound movements are those that engage multiple muscle groups, which must work together to complete the movement (as intended by nature). The push-up engages the chest, shoulders, triceps, core, and even your butt a little bit.
Compound exercises like the push-up are beneficial because they require more mental focus (you gotta maintain that form!); they are functional movements (things your body was built to do naturally); and they are higher intensity (you’ll sweat more!).
The Push-Up Helps with Posture
The push-up helps you develop the mind-muscle connection, especially in the upper body. The more connected you are to your body, the less likely you are to have poor posture. A strong, firm chest is a great confidence booster, and after doing a routine of push-ups you’ll naturally feel your chest puff up and your shoulder blades squeeze together.
The Push-Up Requires No Equipment
And perhaps best of all, the push-up is incredibly practically, requiring no equipment to be effective. There are variations that do use equipment, but most push-ups can be done anytime and anywhere.
Push-Up Tips for Beginners
- Keep your abs and your butt squeezed throughout the motion
- Keep a natural curve in your spine – don’t sag at the waist
- Don’t crane your neck – hold it at a natural angle
- Avoid moving awkwardly through the movement – it should be one fluid motion
Watch the Video!
Check out my video of 24 different push-up variations you can try, ranging from the basics to more advanced variations. I’ve categorized each push-up below as well, from the basics up to very challenging variations.
24 Push-Up Variations Listed from Easiest to Hardest
The basics for beginners:
- Knee push-up
- Standard push-up
- Military push-up
- Wide push-up
- Incline push-up
- Knuckle push-up
More challenging variations:
- Single-leg push-up
- Leg raise push-up
- Sloppy push-up
- Mountain climber push-up
- Staggered push-up
- T push-up
- Diamond push-up
Even harder variations:
- Plank push-up
- Slow push-up
- Spiderman push-up
- Decline push-up
- V push-up
- Pulse push-up
- Gecko push-up
Very challenging variations:
- Row push-up
- Grasshopper push-up
- Clap push-up
- Hindu push-up
*Note that I’m not a fitness professional, so please be careful and do any movements at your own risk.