Proper Push Up Technique

June 4, 2013 June 4, 2013 by Johnny N Boxing Training, Boxing Workouts 115 Comments

Proper Push Up Technique

Whether you’re training for a fight, for weight loss, or any kind of physical activity, push-ups will be a one of your regular workouts. It’s a great exercise to build strength and power for the upper body and doesn’t require any special equipment other than the ground and gravity.

For fighters, push-ups are especially beneficial for developing the chest, shoulders, core, and triceps. You can even develop a bodybuilder’s physique with push-ups if you do enough of them.

But for now, let’s go over what I call the perfect push-up form and technique:




*** Watch my video to see how I do push-ups. ***


How to do a PROPER Push-Up

1. Straight body

The first thing you’ll want to do is to straighten your back. Don’t sag at the hip or lift at the hips. It should be a straight line from head to toe. Check the mirror to see that your hips are in line. The most uncomfortable position is probably the right one. (It will take some core muscle to achieve this!)

Back straight, hips not lifted or sagging.
The most uncomfortable position is the right one.


2. Feet together

Place your entire feet together. Toes AND heels together. There are many people don’t care about the feet and this usually results in very sloppy form. Remember that your entire body is placed on your hands and feet.

Keep your toes & heels together.


3. Hand placement

When you place your hands on the floor, imagine that there is an imaginary line between them, and that your chest is hovering above that line. The sweet spot is most likely somewhere between your shoulders and your nipples.

If your hands are hovering too high (such as above your shoulders), you will feel like your elbows are swinging out too high and not supporting your body weight when you go down. If your hands are too low (such as below your nipples), you will feel like the push-ups are too stressful on your shoulders.

The width of your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width. The exact width depends on various factors such as arm length and the type of push-up you want to do (chest VS tricep). A narrower hand placement will use more tricep muscle and cause you to travel a longer distance to and from the ground. A wider hand placement will use more chest muscle and cause you to to travel less distance to and from the ground. Ideally, you want to find the width that allows you to do the most push-ups without one muscle group (chest or triceps) tiring out before the other. It takes some time to figure out your sweet spot.

Another distinction between chest push-ups and tricep push-ups is the way that your elbow points out as you go down. For chest push-ups, your elbows will point out sideways. For tricep push-ups, your elbows will stay along body so that the elbows are touching your lats and rib cage as you go down. It is also possible to have the elbows travel somewhere diagonally in between but I don’t recommend this as it’s hard to keep it perfectly even on both sides (especially for beginners).

When I was in the Army, all the guys that broke the push-up records were “tricep pushers”. But even still, I preferred chest push-ups. They were harder but I liked the feel of working a bigger muscle and felt I benefitted more from that version.

The hand can be placed on the floor with your fingers together or your fingers spread. I prefer to spread my fingers because it feels stronger and more stable. It’s also important to press your hand completely flat into the ground. Push off the ground with all four corners of your palm. Distribute your weight across the entire palm instead of only on the heel of your palm.

Hands at chest level, wider than shoulder width apart.
Fingers spread, pressing with the 4 corners of the palm.
Elbows open sideways for chest push-ups,
or open downwards for tricep push-ups.


4. Head alignment

The head should be lifted to extend straight out from the spine. Unfortunately this is hard to do because your body will change in angle from the ground as you do push-ups. Most people are usually focused on the ground which leads to a dropped head, and a dropped head makes it harder for to get down low to the ground and also makes it harder to breathe.

My best advice is to stare at the ground 3 feet in front of your head this tilts the head up and keeps it more in line with your spine and at the same time helps to open your throat for breathing.

Eyes looking at the ground 3 feet in front of your head,
to keep a straight position
and open the throat for breathing.


5. Proper “DOWN” position

How low do you go to the ground? There are 2 standards. The rule I like to use is to go until your chest is one inch off the ground. It doesn’t have to be exact; go down until your chest is close to the ground. You should feel a bounce of a stress on the sides of your chest where it connects to the shoulders. (Make sure you keep your muscles contracted for support.)

The other standard is to go down until the upper arms (from the shoulder to the elbow) are parallel with the ground. The elbows will probably be close to a 90-degree angle at this point depending on where your hands are placed.

Go down until your chest is 1 inch off the ground,
or until the upper arms are parallel to the ground.



Push-Up Techniques

1. Push-Up Rhythm

There are 2 different rhythms for doing push ups depending on your level of fitness. The beginner rhythm (about 99% of most people) is to go DOWN SLOW and then UP FAST. You’ll see them lower themselves slowly to the ground and then push themselves up quickly.

The more advanced rhythm and much harder way to do push-ups is to go DOWN FAST AND UP FAST. This is how you break push-up records; by going down as fast as you can. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. You can save a lot of time by dropping down as fast as you can and then pushing up as fast as you can. The reason why it’s so hard is because the faster you drop, the more momentum you have to overcome at the bottom and the more challenging it is to push yourself back up.

When I want to go down fast, I don’t just rely on gravity to bring me down, I imagine that my hands are pulling on the ground to PULL MYSELF DOWN as fast as I can. It’s very challenging and just about impossible for beginners to do as they will probably slam their faces on the ground. But this is a good goal for you to work up to later on.

As you try to go down quickly, you will realize that going down is the hardest part because you spend more energy to stop yourself from hitting the ground than you do to push yourself up. So beginners spend their energy going up and advanced pushers will spend their energy going down. Going down fast will build explosive strength in your upper body very quickly.

Beginner push-up rhythm = down SLOW, up FAST.
Advanced push-up rhythm = down FAST, up FAST.


2. Breathing Technique for Push-Ups

Just as there are 2 different rhythms for doing push-ups, there are 2 methods of breathing technique to accommodate each rhythm.

The beginner style of breathing is to inhale while going down and then exhale while going up. INHALE DOWN, EXHALE UP, INHALE DOWN, EXHALE UP. A beginner push-up will look like (DOWN SLOW) INHALE SLOW – (UP FAST) EXHALE FAST. It sound like innnnnnn-OUT-innnnnnn-OUT.

The advanced style of breathing is to exhale when going down. Their exhalation will be a short quick breath that happens at the hard moment (the peak of descent) when their body is about to hit the ground. They use this quick exhalation to help “bounce” them off the ground. The advanced push-up will look like DOWN FAST – DOWN FAST – DOWN FAST, which a quick exhalation every time they go down. The inhale only as needed (could be once every 10 or 20 reps) as it’s hard to inhale when you’re going fast. The advanced push-up will sound like a rapid *SSHH!* – *SSHH!* – *SSHH!* as they breath explosively for explosive power.

Beginner push-up breathing = inhale DOWN, exhale UP
Advanced push-up breathing = exhale DOWN
Breathe explosively for explosive power.


3. Resting Technique

When it comes to resting while doing push-ups, the common tendency is to sag at the hips or wiggle around on the arms. What I like to do is to put my body into the inverted V-position (known as “downward dog” in yoga) where you raise your hips high into the air as you straighten your legs and back and arms. This position will momentarily give your push-up muscles a break by using a slightly different set of muscles.

From this upside-down “V” position, I take some deep breaths before quickly dropping back into push-up position and squeezing out 1-3 push-ups before switching back again into the inverted V-position again. With this tactic, I can easily squeeze out 20-30 more push-ups even when I felt like I couldn’t do anymore. Some of you will notice intense veins coming out of your muscles and maybe even want to barf as you’ve now allowed yourself to exercise far beyond the point of failure. (Good job!)

Rest by returning to INVERTED V-POSITION
as you squeeze out your final push-ups.


4. Squeezing Technique

Here’s another trick to help you squeeze out more push-ups when you feel like you have nothing left. Instead of imagining yourself pushing the ground away from you, instead try to imagine yourself pulling your elbows in closer to each other. So instead of focusing on pushing up with your triceps, try to focus on pulling your elbows into a straight position. This visualization will make it easier to lockout your elbows straight when you’re struggling on the last upper half of the push-up.

Focus on bringing your elbows in,
instead of pushing the ground.



Push-Up Workouts

Do intervals

There are too many people who focus too much on doing X number of push-ups. It doesn’t matter if you do 500 a day or 1000 a day, everything is easy when you’re not pressed for time. Instead you should give yourself set intervals such as 1 or 2 minutes where you do as many as you can in that period. Intervals are MUCH harder than you think.

Doing push-ups (as well as other exercises) in intervals will very quickly develop superior levels of conditioning in your body and put your focus on a more functional athletic goal (rate of effort) rather than just purely (total effort).

Do intervals for a better workout.
It’s too easy when you’re not pressed for time.


60/45/30/15/10 Interval (Army workout)

My favorite push-up workout and one that I did regularly in the Army is what I call the 60/45/30/15/10 interval:

  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 60 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 45 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 15 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 10 seconds.

It goes without saying that you should be using proper form and technique. A push-up with bad form doesn’t count as a push-up and more importantly, doesn’t count as beneficial exercise!


60/30/15 Interval (for beginners)

I’m sure many of you will not be able to handle the previous interval and so here is another one I would recommend for beginners.

  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 60 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 15 seconds.

This will be quite the challenge as each set should take you to the point of failure.


15-ON/15-OFF Intervals (tabata interval)

This is doing push-ups in tabata drill style. Very effective and more challenging than you think.

  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 15 seconds.
  • Rest 15 seconds.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 15 seconds.
  • Rest 15 seconds.
  • Repeat this interval for up to 10 sets if you can.

Another way you can do this is to try to do 10 push-ups every 15 seconds. Every time the interval starts, you do 10 as fast as you can. The faster you do them, the sooner you can take a break. Do this for 10 sets if you dare.



What can you do with push-ups?

Variations of the push-up

I get questions everyday asking about whether it’s a good idea to do diamond push-ups, one hand push-ups, knuckle push-ups, clapping push-ups, or any of the million other variations out there.

My answer is always this: focus on the basic push-up. The standard form gives the most focus to proper technique and basic benefits of the push-up. Anytime you do something else like being on your knuckles or using a very tricky hand placement, you start to distract yourself from the true benefit of the push-up and end up focusing on the “trick”.

I would say you probably shouldn’t be thinking about doing push-ups tricks until you do at least a couple hundred of the basic push-ups in one sitting. In the meanwhile, if you want some basic variation. Go wider, go narrower, or go faster. Or switch from the chest version to tricep version.


Do intervals

Do push-ups in intervals. Intervals really make it so much harder and more beneficial! Just counting push-ups alone doesn’t mean much. Once you get into really good shape, you can pretty much do push-ups all day and it doesn’t mean anything. Do as much as you can, but in intervals!



For those of you who don’t know, you can get really buff and muscular just by doing push-ups. It’s a common routine for guys in the military or in jail to get really ripped and get 18″ arms just by doing push-ups.

The common routine is to do 1500 push-ups a day. That’s 30 sets of 50. And it will probably take you 30 minutes to do. It used to be 2000 push-ups a day but guys have figured out over time that doing 1500 push-ups is enough. It may sound hard to you but you can work up to it fairly quickly if you’re dedicated and have time. I’ve known many guys who got big doing this (yes, even skinny ones). They look like they’ve been lifting weights but it was really just push-ups.

Another push-up routine I know for getting buff is to do 1200 push-ups a day. You do 20, then widen your hands by an inch, and then do another 20. And keep repeating as you widen your hands all the way out and then bring them all the way in as you keep doing 20 each time.


Beat my record

If you like you can try to beat my 30-second record of 47. I’m a long-arm guy and used the chest version which is harder to do but 47 was my magic number at the peak of my time. I can’t remember what I did at the 60-second mark, probably around 85. And my 2-minute mark was probably around 110-120. I held the record in my platoon but the guys holding the record in the company did around 180 in 2-minutes. (They had shorter stockier arms and used the tricep method.)


Push-ups are easy

You just have to do them. If you did push-ups everyday, you could easily work your way up to a thousand within a year. Of course, not one thousand in one sitting but maybe over over dozens of sets. You can get to a point where you can do push-ups indefinitely.

I remember the times in the Army when our drill sergeant punished us by making us do push-ups for 30 minutes. I have no idea how many I did. But that’s how it was…we never counted, we just went for time. They would say, “GET DOWN AND BEAT YOUR FACE!” And leave us there for an hour.


Read my guide on how to do sit-ups for boxing:

boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
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Seth June 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Also keeping your Core and Gluteus tight will be even more beneficial.


Joaquim June 5, 2013 at 2:57 am

Hi Johny, thank you very much giving us your time for our knowledge, it is really appreciated.

I have a question about push up routine, if you start with like 600 – 800 push ups a day. You will have to work your back as well to be balanced.

I feel necessary to have that balance between chest and back. Before starting boxing I had an easy body weight training routine but I didn’t work my back because I was lazy and didn’t get the point.
I felt unbalance and weak on my feet. Until I started boxing and started to work my back, The result didn’t disapointed me at all.

Now the point is, if we need 30 min for a proper push-up session, are we gonna spend 30 more min for the back? I’m not lazy anymore but time is money.

Thank you very much. keep on working, it’s the best blog out here


spyroskonst June 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

My friend don’t get this too complicated when there is no reason.
Pushups work “mainly” chest-shoulders-tris (depending the variation), but that doesn’t mean your back & core do not work also. They train, and believe me, they train really hard. Check some extreme TV workouts and you will see in some back excersises they are doing push ups!
Finally, if you really want to work on your back then concentrate excersies such as dead lifts and ofcourse pullups & chinups.


Gil June 10, 2013 at 6:28 am

Do enough of them, vary your hand placement and or use a weighted vest, along with increased caloric intake, you will get big. Resistance is resistance, period.


Johnny N June 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

You can do dips and/or pull-ups to balance out the back but the push-up is not as imbalanced of an exercise as you think.


Jamaal September 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Push ups also work the LATS. When you move the humerus in a flapping manner, even if it’s to a forward position like in a push up, you engage the lats. When doing a push up, concentrate on squeezing your armpits and this will better engage the lats. Power comes from the armpits. It’s the important link that transfers the power from the torso/core to the limbs.


Johnny N October 15, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Great tip, thanks.


Nathan Kellaway June 6, 2013 at 3:13 am

I was just reading that bulking bit about push ups… I dont understand how that would work. It defies all rules of muscle building does it not?


Johnny N June 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm

It definitely works and definitely very common. You can read more about it on Google because I don’t want to explain the science of bulking up in a comment.


Mark Tomkins June 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

What are your opinions on Plyometric push ups (push ups with clap)??? Do you feel they are more beneficial for building explosiveness in the upper body than just fast up/fast down ones? Or is there good reason to avoid them and fast up/fast down enough for this purpose?


Johnny N June 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

There are a million variations out there and they all have their benefits. But what I recommend is for everyone to start with the basics first. Make sure you can do a couple hundred of the standard push-ups with good form before you go out trying to look for something more challenging


Jeff February 3, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Johnny, please clarify what you mean by “make sure you can do a couple hundred of the standard push-ups” and “if you can’t do more than a hundred push-ups.” How many sets and rests when you talk about a couple hundred, or do you mean to do a couple hundred total in you 60/45/30/15/10 drill, or do you mean in 1 sitting? Same thing for the “more than a hundred push-ups. do you mean in one sitting or in sets?

Also I hear that clap push ups you only need to do 8-12 reps. Is this what you have in mind too?


Johnny N February 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I mean that you should be able to do at least 100 in one set. Or a couple hundred over a couple sets. As for clapping push-ups, that’s up to you. I can go over 30 easily. It depends on the goal you’re going for.


Doug February 23, 2014 at 12:51 am

Hey Johnny,

Great video. Today, I entered a push up contest at my local San Francisco 24 Hour Fitness. Did “89” strict push-ups going all the way up to elbows straight and all the way down until “my chest hit the ground”. I make sure to hit the ground with my chest because I thought if I didn’t they might not count it. As a result, I wasn’t able to go over 100 push-ups in one minute. At home, like your video I go all the way down to about an inch or less and can crank out well over 100.

I’m now confused on what is a strict push-up. It seems it would make sense that every dude would have to hit their chest on the ground to count as a real strict push-up.
I watched you do them and I can probably go all day hammering them out.

Please explain.


Nick February 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Wow doug i haven’t been able to get past 80 not touching the ground. Do you do wide grip or close grip push ups and how many days a week do you do them? Is your exercise the same as Johnny’s interval push-ups cause I’ve been doing those 3 times a week and not progressing.

Johnny N March 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Doug – the standards I use were the US military standards. San Francisco’s 24-Hour Fitness is doing their own thing and it’s simply not the same. I personally don’t like to hit the floor because it doesn’t feel good when I’m going fast.

Nick – are you absolutely sure you’re not progressing at all whatsoever? It may be possible that even though you’re not progressing in terms of numbers of reps you might actually be progressing in terms of strength and doing the push-ups with better form.

Nick March 5, 2014 at 2:06 am

Thank you for your input Johnny. My form “might” have improved but I’m not sure. I kind of have a feeling it might but don’t know for sure. Do you do push-ups everyday of the week? I hear some people do them everyday despite what they say about “varying your workouts.”

I currently do them 3 times a week consistently for months and never changed them up. It’s making me wonder if 1. I’m not doing them frequent enough (everyday) or 2. I’m not varying my exercises every 1-3 months like people say. Does push-ups apply to that as well or is it different for boxers?

Thanks Johnny.

Johnny N March 21, 2014 at 7:52 pm

@Nick – push-ups are a relatively low resistance exercise and if you do them regularly, your body can definitely get to a point where you can do easily over a hundred in one sitting. With that said…you should strive to keep improving and see where that takes you.

TheLof June 10, 2013 at 2:50 am

thanks for the article. now im set on doing intervals. btw my boxing coaches tell me not to do chest push-ups and do the tricep one. any idea why?


Johnny N June 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I’m not a psychic. Why don’t you ask him?


TheLof August 7, 2013 at 5:32 am

He said it’s because the tricep one is similar to a punch since no one punches with their arms spread apart. I just wanted to know your opinion on it because you both sound very confident about which one is better. Thanks.


Johnny N August 9, 2013 at 5:18 am

Well…it doesn’t matter if you think the chest or tricep generates more power because the muscle that generates all the power is the core. The upper body is really just there to relax and release the shot.

So I could see how working the triceps is good because the arm plays a big part in delivering the punch. Having fast arms can contribute to faster hand speed. But that doesn’t make the chest useless and you should never ignore a major muscle like that. The arms are a key support muscle in punch delivery and it’s common to have tired arms rather than the chest.


Gil June 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

@ Nathan, I meant to reply to you 🙂


Nathan Kellaway June 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

Haha .. but he doesnt say anything about a weighted vest and for those who want to get big do they not keep the reps low? :s… im just curious


Lawrence June 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Why don’t you go parallel or lower? Is there a disadvantage of going lower? Or do you just aim for a high number? I prefer to do them between chairs, increased ROM.


Johnny N June 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Because this is a guide for the standard push-up. I don’t recommend people to look for anything more challenging until they can do a couple hundred STANDARD push-ups with good form. As for going lower, yes, it has many benefits. However if you’re not strong enough, you can injure yourself with those.


Lawrence June 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

Ic. Thanks.


Mark Tomkins June 15, 2013 at 12:18 am

I appreciate your answer and I’m aware there are many variations out there. I am competent with the standard push up but what I have specifically been wondering for quite some time is whether the plyometric push up which shocks your muscles moreso than the fast up and down ones you have described which are in fact the ones I usually perform, I am wondering whether the training effect on staring strength or explosiveness is greater from the plyo push up than just fast up&down?

Both involve higher levels of acceleration and deceleration than standard slow controlled push ups, are there extra benefits from the plyometric version and if so… Is it worth it?


Johnny N June 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Assuming you can do a couple hundred of the standard one, I would say do a couple hundred more of the plyometric version. And see for yourself if you like it. Now if you can’t do more than a hundred push-ups, then it doesn’t really which kind you do.


Leo June 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Thanks for the additional tips that I’ll try to incorporate into my drills 🙂 My third sec count is 53 at the moment on a fatigued day 🙂


star June 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm

thanks for the superb article. i am glad i got most of my answer on works, but i would like to ask.. how many times a week do you have to do push ups if you want your triceps and chest to grow faster?


Afrid Morshed June 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

Good question ……. @ star


Johnny N June 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm

If you want bigger triceps and chest, you should do bodybuilding.


Afrid Morshed June 20, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Johnny ,

This is a very helpful article . It really explains it all ….. But I have a question .. and its not related to this post ………

Some fighters take a bath in ice cold water after workout …….. How does it effect the body ..??????


Johnny N June 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Takign an ice bath helps the muscles to rest and recover faster. You can look up a more scientific explanation on Google.


Afrid Morshed June 20, 2013 at 11:05 pm

OOH .. and what other chest exercise would u recommend ??????????


Johnny N June 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Push-ups, dips, jump-rope are the ones I like most for boxing.


manoj June 27, 2013 at 3:01 am

sir your tips for push-ups and sit-ups are surely an usefull one.please give me some tips to increase the level of stamina


Johnny N June 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Check out my guide on How to Increase Your Fighting Endurance.


Darious September 29, 2013 at 5:39 am

Sir how can i do chest push ups and develop muscle,tricep


star July 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm

thanks Johnny. after reading your articles i am suddenly absorbed into boxing workouts rather than weight lifting. keep it up man. you the best..


Johnny N August 13, 2013 at 4:04 am

That is awesome! Boxing is a way better exercise anyway. Far more functional and mentally stimulating.


Khanno July 29, 2013 at 3:50 am

Hi Johnny. You said get buff military/prison style without lifting weights. Do you mean to say that this is a cheap alternative to the gym or are u implying getting buffed with push ups is better than weight lifting like less sluggish? Thanks.


Johnny N July 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

It’s simply a possibility. I’m not trying to make any statements about one being better than the other.


Kevin August 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm

i always thought the distance was shorter if u put ur hands wider so doesnt that make the drop shorter and the time faster than closer hands? unless ur saying they dont go all the way up and straighten arms. how can shorter distance take longer than farther distance?


Johnny N August 9, 2013 at 5:14 am

In theory, yes, it does make sense that a shorter distance would be easier than a longer distance. In actuality, there’s a lot more to it than simply distance.

What makes the difference is the angle of force. When the hands are in a wider position, your muscles are not as directly applying the force towards the ground and so your strength is less effective. Another thing to think about is that when the elbows are in, you have more of a stabilized compact position between the arm and torso which minimizes the loss of energy transfer. When your hands are wider, your arms can feel like they’re working alone and unsupported. Of course, these aren’t the only factors. Your body type also plays an important role.

But generally speaking, it is far more common to see push-up records broken by tricep-style pushers. In fact, I’ve never seen a chest pusher outdo a tricep pusher in terms of speed and total count.


Kevin August 9, 2013 at 6:28 am

thnx for making it make sense I will try to do chest push up and get power with the core.
another question. i saw this vid on youtube for boxer push ups
so they said don’t go all the way up to keep tension in triceps. should i do this type of push up with your interval plan or should i straighten my arms instead. In your vid you straighten your arms, but as u said u are targeting chest not tricep so i don’t know to straighten arms for tricep push ups or not.


Johnny N August 13, 2013 at 4:08 am

I think it’s silly to avoid using your full range of movement. It’s fine if you want to work within a limited range of motion to isolate certain muscles and develop strength in one area. But at the end of the day, you are doing these exercises to increase your STRENGTH OF MOVEMENT, not strength of resistance (although, that’s useful too).

I would say it’s always best to exercise within your full range of movement. It develops better muscle memory and develops your technique to synchronize all the muscles in your body. Think about when you learn the jab. It’s not like you practice doing the first 1/3rd or arm extension, than second 1/3, and last 1/3rd. No way, you do it all together at once…throwing jabs with a full arm extension because that’s what develops functional strength within the full range of movement.


mike s August 21, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Hi! I’m a bit late, but what do you think about push up equipment like bars or the rotating things like ricky hatton used once on an episode of 24/7?


Johnny N August 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm

It’s a good exercise.


tim September 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Johnny: Have you thought of developing a workout regime for the older boxer? I am 57 and about 6 months in. No gyms in my area but would like to find n older guy to spar with. I am doing the sit up and push up intervals, skipping rope, shadow and interval boxing on the heavy bag. Any further thoughts? I feel it coming slowly (footwork, strength, speed and power.


Johnny N September 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Hi Tim,

I’m not so old yet that I can differentiate between workouts that our too strenuous for the older boxer. The old guys at my gym seem to do just fine no matter what exercise. The best thing I can recommend is to stick to things that don’t mess with your joints or put your body awkwardly out of alignment.

Take care of your back, shoulders, knees, and ankles. When working with older guys, I usually prescribe the same basic exercises I would with anybody and work my way up from there. I think the attitude and strategy of stepping up slowly would be more beneficial than to simply cancel out exercises because of someone’s age. You’d be surprised, there are many “old guys” who move better than the young ones.


Chad Gaydos September 23, 2013 at 1:09 am

Hey Johnny, I was interested in making push ups a big part of my fitness routine. I wondered if doing inclined and declined push ups would have the same effect as the inclined and declined bench press if one was doing the chest type pushups. Common sense tells me it would but I’d never really verified it. Anyways, I wanted to say that I find this page very valuable, so thanks. I’ve had an interest in boxing for the past few years and have decided to commit to some training and hopefully take some lessons if I can make my schedule work. If not consider yourself my trainer 🙂


Johnny N September 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm

They do use the same muscles but I’m not sure it’s the exact same effect. Nonetheless, it’s still a great workout and I recommend it. I’ll be honored to be your trainer, Chad. 🙂


tim September 30, 2013 at 6:25 am

Johnny: Thanks for the feedback. I think the main thing for me as an older guy is to start smaller and work slowly up in terms of reps, rounds etc.. When I started looking at what other people were doing, it was daunting. I got gassed quickly and it takes a bit longer to recover. Now I am very encouraged by the results and things are coming easier. I guess the most important muscle for any boxer or athlete, young or old, is the brain!


Johnny N October 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Yes, the brain! And still very much so, the body. I think people take for granted how powerful the body truly is. Treat it well and it will always outperform your expectations!


olly October 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm

This is a really good article and should help me with my breathing and head placement. thanks


M Lawrence Pineda October 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm

No wonder you can do 47in a minute-you don’t even go completely down or completely back up. These are not true push-ups.


Johnny N October 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Slow-mo the video, Lawrence. Go frame by frame. (Do this by pausing the video, and then hit the RIGHT ARROW a little at a time.) I don’t waste time at the top or bottom so you don’t really see the full extension so easily but you can slow it down and see for yourself. I was in the Army for 6 years and scored in the top 90% of the physical fitness tests, believe me, I know how to do a military-grade push-up.


tim October 29, 2013 at 11:16 am

Johnny: I was doing two sets of the 60/30/15 pushups and found I was able to increase my numbers in each interval. I recently reread this thread and realized my form was bad. By looking ahead a few feet as you suggest, it is much harder (better?) and I’m doing less per interval but am feeling really challenged. I am also now doing two sets of the army interval. Is two sets enough to get me stronger? I incorporated the interval idea into chin ups too as in: do as many as I can rest for 60 seconds then repeat for a total of three times, two sets.


Johnny N November 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Good form is absolutely crucial to ensure the integrity of the workout. If you’re feeling challenged, then you’re getting a workout. If you can do more, do more.


Ty November 11, 2013 at 5:25 am

Johnny, are you going to do an article on pullups and squats anytime? I always feel like i’m doing squats wrong and I like to learn ways to train my pullups. Thanks great article.


Johnny N November 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I might get to those exercises some day. I do have a bit to say about pull-ups.


steve December 22, 2013 at 8:55 am

ive been doing 100 push ups everyday for the past 3 months. is this the wrong thing to do as a up and coming boxer.


Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 7:07 pm

That’s totally fine, Steve. 100 push-ups isn’t all that much, anyway.


Brent January 29, 2014 at 11:56 am

hey Johnny is this interval push-up targeting endurance, strength, or power? Normally, push-ups for done at a slower pace and trains for endurance, but there are many differences here like doing them as fast as possible, pulling your body down to the ground then exploding back up, doing as many as possible within a given time rather than no time limit, so I just wonder if there are benefits other than endurance. Thanks.


Johnny N February 12, 2014 at 2:35 pm

That interval push-up routine increases strength, endurance, power, and speed. Maybe there are other benefits as well but these are the main ones I can think of.


Brent February 14, 2014 at 3:43 am

Thank you for your reply. If I am not mistaken, strength means the amount of weight your muscles can lift right? So are you saying that your push up exercise could, for example, increase the weight I bench press even if I don’t weight lift at all?


Johnny N March 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Push-ups can increase your OVERALL strength. Now if you’re already so incredibly strong from all angles, then maybe push-ups wont’ help your strength so much.

Imagine running 2 miles. For some people it’s an endurance workout, for other’s it’s a speed workout, and for a select few, it’s not even a workout at all. It all depends on the individual.


Brent January 29, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Can you give some comments on what this article says about push ups for boxing?


Johnny N February 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Personally, I feel that article was written in much less detail and with much less information. I think you can follow along both articles (hers and mine), trying both approaches to push-up exercise, and see which one you like best.


Andi Schuster March 24, 2014 at 2:04 am

Hello 🙂
I really like this great article about pushups!!

I like to workout with pushups!!

Do you think that train a lot with pushups will cause
a way to injury?
I think it’s a grat natural way to train.

Are injuries really a result of train pushups alone??

Best regards


Johnny N April 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Doing lots of training with push-ups will not injure you.


Jessica April 26, 2014 at 8:24 pm

How can I be sure that I have proper form while I’m doing them? Is it just muscle memory? I can only do about twenty-seven in a minute (because I’m kinda noodly and have basically zero upper body strength), which is technically enough to pass the Air Force fitness test, but I’m worried that I actually have terrible form and they won’t be counted for the actual test.


Johnny N July 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Search up “air force push-ups” on Google and read their guidelines for a proper push-up. It should tell you what the “proper form” is that they’re looking for.


Begginerboy May 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Hey Johnny i am a big fan of all your articles. I just wanted to know what is your take on weight training for boxing? Will squats, powercleans and deadlifts help in building the right body for boxing ?

Should boxers employ one rep max workouts to increase overall strength ?

I also wanted to know should i continue doing pushups even if i am sore from my previous workout ?

Best regards


Johnny N July 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Check out my EASY Boxing Workout and start with that. And then if you want to add stuff to it, go ahead. But build a base around the typical boxing workout rather than a typical powerlifting workout. One-rep max workouts are probably not a good way to increase functional boxing strength if you ask me….that’s my opinion.

As for working out while sore…it depends on the kind of soreness. If it’s a typical cardio soreness, then it’s fine. If it’s the kind where you’re tense and tight and the muscle needs a couple days to repair, then no.


Erik June 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm

How many days of the week can you do push ups ?


Johnny N July 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Every day of the week if you want. If you’re just starting out, maybe everyday other day. It will take you time until your body builds the strength to be able to do push-ups without requiring a rest period.


Andi September 17, 2014 at 1:50 am


When trying to do all 1200 military/prison style pushups –
Ought it all done in speed and performance you show in your great

Best regards


Johnny N November 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm

You can do it however you want. The sheer volume alone will be helpful. You’ll become so strong very quickly that it won’t be hard at all for you to go at any speed, whether fast or slow.


Matt October 19, 2014 at 5:47 pm

im not sure if this has already been alluded to, but i didnt see it mentioned anywhere in the comment section or the article. I make a fist when doing push ups rather than laying my palms flat on the ground. Are there any advantages/disadvantages with this?


Johnny N November 25, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Try it and see for yourself. Some people like it and I don’t see how it’s a problem. I never really did push-ups that way.


Mayukh Sen November 29, 2014 at 1:22 am

Hey Johnny awesome article on push ups.I have some questions for you.Its probably gonna annoy you a bit,but are you serious about the bulking up part of the pushup?Are you really sure that its a common method among prisoners and army to do 1500 push ups a day to bulk up?Ofcourse its a lots of volume if done everyday for an extended period of time but do you seriously have seen people getting 17 inch arms from this type of high volume push up routine.Dont get me wrong I know full well that pushups and.pullups can make you big,I got a 51 inch chest and 17 inch arms from just calisthenics but those were one arm one leg push ups feet elevated and one arm chinups done for 500 and 150 reps a day respectively.I could do lots of regular push ups and pull ups but I never got buff untill I started doing the one armers.But to say that regulars can get you big is too awesome.So I ask you that have you seen this happening and seen the results.Also is there any study that says that low intensity high volume work can get you really big,can you show me any article mentioning that study?Thanks in advance.


Johnny N February 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

I don’t have any studies off the top of my head. And yes, I’m being dead serious, I know plenty of people that came from the military or prison.


Mayukh Sen April 5, 2015 at 4:25 am

For the past 4 months I did an experiment with only push ups and pull ups that included me and my girlfriend’s brother (lol),who is a friend,I am pretty big,4 months ago I could bench 360 lbs for 2 perfect pause reps,I always paid attention to my conditioning,I could easily do 100+ feet elevated army push ups in a row,so I started doing 800 single bar dips and 500 feet elevated push ups a day,along with 300 pull ups a day and no lifting whatsoever,my friend,17 year old,is little bit on the chubby side and not athletic,an average nerd,200 lbs,could do 50 feet elevated push ups and 12 deadhang pull ups,so I had him start doing 800 push ups and 150 pull ups a day,after 4 dys it got brutal,but the chap pushed through it like a man.his face used to look like a dead mans face for the first month,from the second month dude said it started feeling easy to him,so now I had him do 1500 pushups and 300 pull ups a day,after 4 months,he looks HUGE,can do 1500 push ups and 300 pull ups everyday by doing it thrice a day and each time he does 500 push ups,100 pull ups and 300 situps,15 minute short workouts.He is thinking of adding low rep compound lifting on top of this,since this does not tire his muscles any more,what a beast.

His transformation pics are mind blowing,he has blown the fuck up,had a 43 inch chest flexed before starting,and he was 16 percent body fat,now has a 47 inch chest ripped,great shoulders and back and 16 inch arms flexed,his best 1RM bench 4 months ago was 230 lbs,now its 290 lbs!!!!!!!!!!! He looks like Mike tyson from the 94s.

Me?I have strangely added 7 lbs of lean muscle,got cut to shreds,and my max bench has shot up to 375 lbs for two reps.I feel extremely energetic and strong.


Mayukh Sen April 5, 2015 at 4:34 am

So thank you for getting me interested in this,I will keep on doing a program very similar to this and would definitely do 1000 situps and 1000 push ups a day,it gives me a very specific type of core strength and stamina.


jay December 18, 2014 at 1:09 am

Why is it that when I work out for at least 3days straight ,the wake the next morning to workout . Go to sleep wake up I don’t have that same muscle pain as I did before ???


Johnny N February 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

Because your body rested?


Jayesh January 3, 2015 at 5:45 pm

It feels like (I am not sure about it ) in down position I (my chest) end up being in periphery instead of being in middle of my palms. Is it just something in mind or am I doing it wrong ? Read something about left right muscle imbalance few days back. Wanna know if I am doing it right


Johnny N February 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

Maybe your hands are too close together?


alex February 27, 2015 at 5:52 am

Hi! Should i do pushups befor or after boxing workout?


Johnny N February 27, 2015 at 11:10 am

I would choose after but I guess you could do whatever you want.


alex February 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm



matt April 21, 2015 at 12:38 am

great article. Thanks for posting, even though i think tricep pushups are way harder than wide. lol


Johnny N June 9, 2015 at 10:36 am

It’s totally possible especially if your body is built in a certain way.


alex June 9, 2015 at 7:18 am

Hi jonny! I have a goal to work my self up too 1200 pushups a day! I am no beginer as i do push ups everyday. I realy like the Sound of the 20, 20 style allways going wider and the narrow again. How should i do the intervals, When should i Rest? And for how long should i Rest for?? Please help 🙂 need a good Routine


Johnny N June 9, 2015 at 10:35 am

The suggestions are in the article.


alex June 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

But it doesnt explain about Resting time. After doing 20 how long should I Rest for befor doing the next 20?


Mayukh Sen July 25, 2015 at 7:29 am

I have a plan, you will have to slowly increase your push ups/day depending upon your current max PR, lets say your current max is X, now the workout you will do each day is this, you will do this 3-4 times a day, and what you will do is, you will divide your current max by 2, and hit that number of reps a set resting 30 seconds between each set and do 10 sets, so each workout you will end up doing 5X, you will do that workout 3 times a day, and each day, yes you wont be able to keep up after a while, but thats the point, you will have to keep pushing through failure, no matter how many push ups you can do, even if you can do 100+, if you maintain this formula, you will grow, not just sarcoplasm but actual muscle and strength, thats what some prisoners I know with 49+ inch pecs and 17+ inch arms ripped say, same with pull ups, if you do not have access to a gym, this is the formula you will have to apply to build muscle, remember, if you face muscle failure, then you have successfully stimulated those muscles.

the problem is, when you surpass 100+ reps, workouts take too long, so after being able to 100+ reps a set, I would recommend doing this with 1arm1leg push ups. The fewer reps you can do the better or the workouts will take ages. Peace.


Gavin August 18, 2015 at 8:40 am

Sorry for my ignorance, Johnny. What alternate exercise can I do so that I can improve triceps push ups. I stay in Singapore and recently the ippt (fitness) in army implement push-ups instead. Previously it is pull-ups and I could easily did 20+. I had nightmares over push-ups and need some expert advise. The main reason that hinder from doing push-ups is I am too skinny and lack upper body strength. I am around 1.67m and weights 52kg. Could you kindly advise what can I do expertise the process of doing push-ups? Currently I can only do 10 consecutive triceps push ups. Thanks!


Johnny N August 19, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Keep your hands closer together. Or do some benchpress with your hands at a narrower grip.


Thomas August 28, 2015 at 11:58 am

Love your video and guide. Ended up here out of desire to improve the effectiveness of my pushups.

Now I’m wondering, I’ve been using pushup bars for the past few months because I prefer the feeling of my wrist being straight rather than the 90 degree angle when flat on the floor.

Do you think it makes a difference? Is it something I should phase myself out of?


Johnny N August 31, 2015 at 10:56 am

I don’t think they’re bad. Do what you like and feels good.


Ray September 12, 2015 at 8:12 am

Really nice article about push ups! I’ve been doing similar routine, where you need to acomplish certain number of push-ups for a day. Intervals and not counting – sounds fun and interesting, i like it! I have a question though – would you recommend to do it everyday?


Will December 7, 2015 at 6:46 am

Hey Johnny, great page, loads of cool tips. Didn’t knw that changing the postions of your elbows affects the muscles you work. I do push ups quite regularly but I can’t seem to do more than 25 at a push (no pun intended). all this talk of thousands seems mental, will working in intervals lead to me being able to do more in a set?


harish December 13, 2015 at 7:33 pm

My problem is that my left chest is bigger than right what should I do?I m doing pushups daily with proper form but I don’t know how my chest is unbalanced. Tell me what should I do?


Nick B. December 22, 2015 at 11:09 am

Hey Johnny love the info on this page I was wondering if I was going to start doing the 1500 push ups for mass and punching power could i do this every day? Or should I do the 1500 on one day do a different push up workout or variation on the next day then another 1500 workout the day after that, because I know many fighters do calisthenics every day, what sound like the best option?


EV March 15, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Sorry 50 push ups in 30 sec. 😉


Johnny Reitmann March 19, 2016 at 1:19 pm

I’m a personal trainer as well as boxer and many of my clients are mystified when I have them doing sets of bodyweight squats, push ups and chins. I tell them that unless they can master their bodyweight they have no business lifting weights. Some of the strongest guys I’ve met never lift weights at all.
If you can bench 300Lbs but cant do a single pull up you’re weak


Kurt Buck August 5, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Hey Johnny. Im looking to do calisthenics for conditioning for boxing, however im a heavyweight and i weigh around 275. Hope to cut down to 230. But at my weight would it be detrimental to do a lot of calisthenics every day? Would it cause me to overtrain?


Kimani Mwath December 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Hey Johnny,
Could you comment on handstand push ups, which are popular with crossfitters? do they work the same muscles?


Johnny N December 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Handstand push-ups do have some overlaps in muscle groups being worked but I would say are extreme for the average individual.


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