Classic Push-Up
Credit: Photograph by Terrence Darvin

Push-ups activate a chain of muscles – particularly in your arms, shoulders, chest, and back – that are key for everything from getting up off the ground to shoving something heavy into the back of an SUV. The humble push-up beats the bench press for developing this functional push strength because the push-up doesn't take your back and legs out of the movement.


  • Start in a plank position, holding the spine neutral, no sagging.
  • Stabilize the shoulder joints by pulling shoulder blades down toward your heels (this is fundamental to all push-and-pull exercises).
  • Place hands so that when you drop, your nipples line up with the base of your palms. Lower until your chest touches the ground.

Advanced Move 

  • Bosu Push-Ups: To engage your core even more, add an unstable surface to your push-up with a Bosu ball. With the round side down, grab the handles at the edge of the flat disk and do push-ups as described.