A trainer recommends doing these three simple moves to build the foundational strength you need for a full push-up

Start building your upper-body strength and work up to your first full push-up with these simple exercises

Two women perform incline push ups
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Push-ups are an incredibly efficient upper-body exercise, working the chest, arms, core, and back. Many of us (me included) struggle to do a push-up from the ground, but it is possible to build the strength you need to do one. 

Personal training duo Lauren and Jason Pak have put together three simple exercises that will help you build up to your first proper push-up. 

Adaptations such as dropping your knees to the ground or practicing against a wall can also make this exercise more accessible. You can continue doing push-ups in this manner if it suits you, but if you’re ready to level up your push-up game, here are some other things you can try.

The exercises

1️. Tall plank shoulder taps and reaches: Start in a high plank position, with your weight spread evenly between your arms and feet. Keeping your core engaged and body steady, bring one hand off the ground and tap your opposite shoulder, before replacing and repeating on the other side.  

2️. Incline push-ups: Start the incline push-up with your hands on a bench, countertop, or wall. Hold your body in a high plank position, keeping your back and legs in a straight line; bend your elbows, and lower your body as you would with a traditional push-up.

3️. Eccentric push-ups: The eccentric push-up focuses on the lowering portion of a traditional push-up. Start in a high plank position, with your weight spread evenly between your arms and feet. You can drop to your knees if you need to. Keeping your back and legs in a straight line, bend your elbows and slowly lower your body to the ground. 

What’s so good about push-ups?

At Fit&Well we love accessible exercises that work for people who don’t have any equipment. 

Push-ups are ideal as you can do them anywhere and—as they are a compound exercise—they will strengthen multiple muscles across your chest, lower back and shoulders. If you maintain proper form, your core should also get a workout. 

Strengthening these areas could help to improve your posture and reduce your risk of sustaining an injury. It will also make everyday tasks, like putting away the shopping or picking up your kids, feel a little bit easier. 

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.


Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.