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Find your perfect push-up

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  February 20, 2013 09:37 AM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Push-ups are one of those great exercises that are rarely done correctly, but when they are; give you big bang for your buck in terms of upper body strength. Not everyone should, or is able to start by doing push-ups from the ground and on the toes. If core or back strength is inadequate, often times the low back starts to resemble a hammock or elbows flare out to the sides.

To find the best push-up variation for you, pick one that allows you to keep your body in a straight line from toes (or knees if doing a modified push-up) to ears throughout the full range of motion. That means no sagging low backs, high in the air hips, or drooping heads at any point in the movement. For more great tips on technique, check out this informative article. Which one is best for you? Well, here are four great variations, with one to fit almost everyone.

1. Push-up on an Incline (Best option for beginners when using a high incline)

• The higher the incline, the easier the push-up
• Keep abdominals braced and glutes contracted (with all variations)
• Move bar further down to increase difficulty

2. Modified Push-up

• Knees stay on the ground
• Feet can stay on the ground or be up and crossed
• Involves a little less of the core than the other variations

3. Standard Push-up

• Elbows should stay at a 45 degree angle
• Feet set widely apart is easiest
• Bring feet closer together to make the movement harder

4. 3 Point Push-up (Hardest)

• Place one foot on top of the other or hold one leg extended in the air
• Alternate evenly which foot is off the ground
• Place feet on an elevated surface to make exercise even harder

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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