What muscles do push-ups work out? It’s a natural question. Like many busy people, you’re looking for moves that work as many muscles as possible with each rep. The benefits of what push-ups do to your body are truly far-reaching, making them one of the most efficientf, no-equipment, strength-building moves. But to reap the full gain, you’ll need to learn how to do the perfect push-up.
In this article:
- What Do Push-ups Strengthen?
- Muscle Groups at Work
- How to do the Perfect Push-up
- Get into the Proper Position
- Doing the Push-up
What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work? | Doing a Proper Push-up
What Do Push-ups Strengthen?
You may first feel the strain of doing a push-up in your upper arms. Yet, each lowering and raising of your body is actually working many muscle groups. Your own body weight exerts considerable resistance for most of your torso.
Muscle Groups at Work
Among the muscles that push-ups work out are:
- Biceps. Your biceps are the inner part of your upper arm. You need them to flex your arm in any direction, as well as to pick things up. Working biceps gives a recognizable definition to your arms over time.
- Triceps. Triceps are the opposing muscles to biceps and are on the outer part of your upper arm. These muscles work with biceps for many motions and are also crucial for pushing and straightening your arm. Women are often especially eager to tone their triceps to get rid of their “bat wings” or fleshy upper arms.
- Forearms. Your lower arms are constantly worked during push-ups. Forearm muscles take on much of your body weight as you lower yourself to the ground. Toning them provides visible muscle definition and a less “wobbly” look to your lower arms. In addition, strong forearms help prevent the overuse of the wrist, which leads to injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Pectorals. Your chest muscles are actually two large muscles, which stretch across the surface of your chest. From a functional point of view, you need them for pushing, as well as for carrying things. From a visual standpoint, women appreciate the lifting effect that toned pectorals have on their bosom. Men achieve a broader chest and clear muscle definition.
- Trapezius. The trapezius is one of the larger muscles you’ll work when doing push-ups. It’s located in the upper center of your back. A strong trapezius helps support shoulder and neck strength. This support leaves you less achy after a day of carrying things or of being slumped over your computer.
- Rhomboids. These are smaller muscles located near the trapezius in your back. Their function is similar to the trapezius. Rhomboids support your shoulders and also contribute to a straighter posture.
- Latissimus dorsi. Your “lats” are the two large muscles on either side of your waist and back. They help you raise and lower your arms, rotate your shoulders, and twist around. Because the two latissimus dorsi cover many other of the muscles in your upper body, they help support a range of functions.
- Deltoids. Do you have a slouching posture and aching shoulders? Toning your deltoids with push-ups can help with that. Not only will you have less of a sloping shoulder look, but stronger delts also support a greater range of motion in your shoulders.
How to Do the Perfect Push-Up
How you start off and perform your push-up will determine how successful your reps will be. Poor positioning can lead to back pain and other injuries. You’ll also get less of the muscle definition you’re looking for. You will need a perfect push-up workout guide to achieve your body goal.
Get into the Proper Position
So what is the proper way to do a push-up? You’re probably already familiar with the proper plank position from your school days. Your body is facing the floor, with your hands just under your shoulders, but a bit to the side. Keep your arms straight. Your toes should be braced against the floor, with your legs and feet close together. Draw your stomach in, and clench your glutes slightly.
Focus on making your back straight so that your whole body is in a straight line. Keep in mind that “straight” doesn’t mean parallel to the floor. Depending on the length of your arms, keeping arms straight will probably mean that your head is diagonal to your feet.
Don’t let your body play tricks on you! That warning might seem like a joke, but it’s a common mistake for beginners with push-ups. You may subconsciously try to avoid some of the heavy work of a push-up by letting your back droop a bit or sticking your rear end up higher. But injury can result from this kind of cheating. In addition, you’re less likely to see the upper body toning you’re looking for.
Doing the Push-Up
Since you’re starting in the raised position, your next move is to lower your body to the ground. Bend your arms and slowly, tucking your elbows in, and lower yourself until your chest just brushes the floor.
Hold this pose for a beat, then raise yourself back up to the starting position, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Continue to keep your back straight, and your core engaged.
Now it’s time to repeat the process. Your first time out you may find even one push-up to be a strain. But if possible, do at least 10. You’ll know it’s time to quit if you can’t keep your back straight and core engaged.
Need a little extra support? Try doing a push-up with your knees bent. This takes some of the strain off of your torso until you build more strength.
Alternatively, start with wall “push offs.” You’ll be working many of the same muscles, but with less resistance from body weight. You can still reap the benefits of wall push-ups if you can’t handle the full exercise yet.
If you’re still a beginner when it comes to doing push-ups, watch these instructions by Brett Cap.
Whether you decide to do push-ups every day or to alternate days, it won’t take long until you start seeing results. Once you’ve learned how to do a push-up — and perhaps included some variations into that proper push-up, you’ll have a simple, no-fail bodybuilding system. You don’t need a gym, free weights or a special mat. All you need is your own body weight and a little bit of motivation.
Now you know what muscles do push-ups work out! You can start your push up workout routine now. Don’t forget to share your progress as well.