Push Up Progression Series

Published by Kelvin on

People doing push ups


The push-up is one of the most effective, efficient and safest exercise for the upper body strength development and more specifically, muscle hypertrophy. Pushups are great full body exercise that can be practiced with little or no equipment required. The strength, bodyweight and the willingness to become better is all that is needed when performing pushups.

It is important to note that when performing pushup, it should be done correctly because push-ups are great for developing spinal stabilization (anti-trunk extension), body control, increasing the activation of the serratus anterior, and for developing scapular and shoulder stability (resulting in rotator cuff efficiency). It is safe to say that the push-up demands more “total body” muscular recruitment. Push-up targets the chest muscles (pectoralis), shoulders, or deltoids, back of your arms, or triceps, abdominals, the “wing” muscles directly under your armpit, called the serratus anterior.

This article will focus on three main core points:

  1. How to maintain and stabilize proper body positioning
  2. How to control body movement while still maintaining proper body positioning.
  3. How to maintain and control proper body positioning while performing the movement dynamically.

Progression 1 – Knee Pushups

  1. Starting from a push-up position, keep your knees in contact with the floor and feet crossed as you press up, lifting your upper body.
  2. Keeping your knees on the ground reduces the whole weight you need to lift to complete the motion, while still retaining several push-up’s benefits
  3. Keeping your body straight and your elbows slightly tucked in, inhale as you lower your chest to the ground.
  4. Exhale as you extend your elbows and push your body back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat.

Progression 2 – Wall pushups

  1. With your feet planted on the floor, lean forward and put them at a comfortable incline
  2. Face a wall, standing a little farther than arm’s length away, feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lean your body forward and put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
  4. Bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall in a slow, controlled motion making sure you keep your feet flat on the floor.
  5. Push yourself back until your arms are straight.

Progression 3 – Diamond pushups

  1. Assume a knee pushup position but with your hands together and back flat.
  2. Spread your fingers so that your right hand index finger touches the left hand index fingers likewise the thumbs in order to form a diamond, and extend your arms.
  3. Allow your elbows to break, lowering your chest toward the floor while keeping your back flat.
  4. Press back up to full arm extension
  5. Repeat

Note: To make the movement more difficult, stay up on your toes rather than on your knees

Progression 4 – Push-ups

  1. Assume the pushup position with both hands and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Make sure your bum (glutes) isn’t in the air, back straight and elbows close to the body.
  3. Ensure your neck is neutral, head neither looking up, down, nor to the sides
  4. Breathe in and actively pull yourself into the lower position of your push-up.
  5. Breathe out sharply and drive from the core (lats) to push yourself back up to the start position.
  6. Also ensure you hold the push-up position for a few second before extending the arms.


Kelvin enjoys taking part in health and fitness activities, and while not exercising, enjoys writing about health and fitness