Calisthenics – A Beginners Guide: The Push-Up

This article is the second part of the Exercise Tutorials Series “Calisthenics: A Beginners Guide”, referring to the exercises used in The Ultimate Travel Workout. For the first part of the series explaining the correct performance of the Dand click here.

The traditional Push-Up with all its different variations is probably the most known and performed exercise of them all. It would be quite interesting to know who came up with this excellent exercise and performed it first but unfortunately he or she didn’t find it important enough to record his or her invention. So we can just assume that it has been around for quite a while.

The traditional Push-Up primarily works the Pectoralis Major (the chest) with the Triceps Brachii and the Anterior Deltoid assisting in the performance of the movement.

Human Anatomy Upper Body Front View

Interestingly these three muscles usually work together in all major pushing movements, not only in the Push-Up but variations of exercises like the Bench Press and Shoulder Press as well.

To perform the traditional Push-Up correctly you want to start in a position facing the ground with your hands a little bit further than shoulder width apart, elbows extended, back straight, legs locked out and toes resting on the ground. For a better contraction in the chest I would recommend placing your hands a little bit lower than usual, roughly about your sternums level as you would in a Bench Press. The closer together your legs and feet are placed the harder the exercise gets with the option of placing one foot on the other for an extra challenge.

Push Up Starting Position

To initiate the exercise start lowering your body towards the floor by flexion of your elbow joints. For extra contraction in your Pecs try visualizing pressing your hands into the ground and across your body as you would in a Dumbbell or Cable Fly without actually moving your hands. Don’t forget to contract your Abdominal muscles and your lower back as well to help stabilize your body and to keep a straight back throughout the entire movement. The Push-Up is a full body exercise so treat it as one by trying to engage as many muscles as possible.

Push Up Lower Position

After you have lowered your body until it is parallel to the ground start pressing back up again by extension of the elbow joints. Again, focus on contracting your chest, keeping a straight back and engaging as many muscles as possible. You’re finished once you’ve extended your elbows completely.

Congratulations. You’ve just performed your first Push-Up.


You probably will have noticed that the variation used in the Ultimate Travel Workout is the so-called Diamond Push-Up. This variation puts a greater emphasis on your triceps and shifts the exercises focus from your chest to your triceps.

Because the triceps is a much smaller muscle than the chest it is a lot less powerful as well. Hence you will find the performance of the Diamond Push-Up a lot harder than the performance of a traditional or regular Push-Up.

To perform the Diamond Push-Up do everything in the exact same manner as described above except for the placement of your hands. Those will be placed directly in front of your sternum with your index fingers and thumbs touching each other forming a diamond (hence the name just in case you didn’t notice).

Diamond Push up Hand placement


And there you go. Two exercises explained in one post. Aren’t you lucky following my blog!

Thanks so much for your time!

I’ll see you next time!



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