Pain Free Working

How to Do Push-Ups While at Work [Proper Form]

A push-up is a classic bodyweight exercise that is extremely effective as it works the chest muscles, arm muscles, pectoral muscles, hip muscles, and back muscles. Incorporating push-ups into your workday can be a convenient way to stay fit, break the monotony of desk work, and boost your overall health.

This article will guide you through the process, ensuring proper form and offering variations to suit all fitness levels.

Benefits of Push-Ups

Push-ups are a classic bodyweight exercise that offers numerous benefits. Push-ups work multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, providing a full-body workout. Regularly performing push-ups and adding them to your daily life can improve muscular endurance, increase upper body strength, and enhance cardiovascular health. 

Additionally, doing push-ups can boost mental alertness and relieve stress, making them an excellent choice for a quick workday exercise.

How to Do a Push-Up for Beginners

For beginners, starting with the basics is crucial to build strength and ensure good form. Here’s a step-by-step guide on starter push-ups that you can do to prepare your body for the standard push-up.

Wall Push-Up

Stand facing a wall at arm’s length. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height and shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows to bring your chest towards the wall, then push back to the starting position.

Incline Push-Up

This modification makes a push-up less challenging by reducing the amount of weight you’re pushing back up. Use an elevated surface such as a sturdy desk or chair. Place your hands on the edge and position them as wide as your shoulders, and walk your feet back so your body can form a straight line. Lower your chest to the desk or chair, then push back up.

Knee Push-Up

A modified version of the standard push-up, this workout is performed on the knees rather than the toes. On the floor, start on your knees and hands in a high plank position. Then, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Lower your chest to the floor, keeping your body straight from knees to head, and then push back up.

How to Do Push-Up Correctly

The proper push-up form is essential to maximize benefits and prevent injury. You don’t have to be extremely athletic to do this as it can be done by anyone at any point of fitness level.

To do a standard push-up, come into a high plank position by placing your palms flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position. Next, keep your body rigid in one straight line from head to heels. Contract your abs and tighten your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Avoid sagging your hips or arching your back.

Slowly lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. Keep your elbows at about a 45-degree angle from your body. Inhale as you lower your body and exhale as you push back up. Press your shoulder blades back and when pushing back up. Make sure your body moves as one unit. Maintain control in each push-up repetition and avoid any jerky movements. There you have it, the perfect push-up! 

Why Can’t I Do a Push-up?

Struggling with push-ups is common, and it often stems from a lack of strength in the upper body muscles such as the chest, shoulders, triceps, or core muscles. Poor form and insufficient stability can also be contributing factors that can derail your body’s ability to do a push-up. Additionally, flexibility issues, particularly in the wrists or shoulders, might hinder your ability to perform a proper push-up.

If you feel you can’t do a push-up with a solid form on your own, there’s no harm in seeking help. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends consulting a professional trainer to aid you in assessing your current level of fitness and capability to do the exercise.

Common Mistakes Beginners Make When Doing a Push-Up

A push-up is a fundamental exercise, but beginners often make common mistakes that can hinder progress and increase the risk of injury. Here are three frequent errors and how to avoid them:

Poor Body Alignment

Many beginners either let their hips sag towards the floor, stick their buttocks up in the air, or point their chin up, resulting in improper body alignment. To remedy this, make sure to form a straight line from your head to your heels and maintain it throughout the movement. Squeeze your shoulder blades and engage your core as well. 

Incorrect Hand Placement

You may be putting your hands too far forward, too far back, or too wide, resulting in putting too much stress on your shoulders. Always position your hands slightly wider than the width of your shoulders and directly under them. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle when you lower your body.

Inadequate Range of Motion

Beginners often perform shallow push-ups instead, lowering the body only halfway. Always lower your chest until it almost touches the floor and your elbows should bend at least 90 degrees. A full range of motion ensures that you activate the core stabilizers, gaining the full benefit of the exercise.

How Can I Train Myself to Do Push-Ups?

Training to do push-ups involves a combination of strength-building exercises, consistency, and progressive overload. Here are some tips:

Strengthen Core Muscles

Incorporate planks, leg raises, and other core exercises into your workout routine to improve stability.

Build Upper Body Strength

Perform exercises like chest presses, tricep dips, and shoulder presses to develop the muscles involved in push-ups.

Practice Variations of Push-Ups

Start with easier variations such as wall push-ups, incline push-ups, and knee push-ups before progressing to full push-ups. Adjust the tempo or speed of the exercise too as doing so plays a significant role in how your body responds to your training.

Increase Reps Gradually

Advanced exercisers can do more push-ups than beginners or in the mid-level. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to reach their level too. Begin with a small number of repetitions and gradually do as many push-ups as you can as your strength improves.  


Incorporate push-ups or variations into your daily routine, aiming for consistency over volume.

Push-Up Variations

To keep your workout interesting and target different muscle groups, try these variations of the standard push-ups. How many push-ups you can do depends on your fitness level. If you’re a beginner, start off with a small number to make the exercise easier on your body. If you’re already used to doing a push-up, you can go crazy and do as many reps as you want.

Wide-Grip Push-Up

Place your hands wider than shoulder-width to target the chest more.

Diamond Push-Up

Position your hands close together under your chest, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers to emphasize the triceps.

Plyometric Push-Up

Add a clap at the top of the movement to increase power and explosiveness.

Decline Push-Up

This workout puts more emphasis on the upper chest and shoulders as raising your lower body increases the challenge for the upper half. Your feet should be raised up on a box or a bench, legs straight. Make sure your body moves as one unit when you push.

One-Arm Push-Up

Challenge your balance and strength by performing push-ups with one arm behind your back.

Scorpion Push-Up

Get into the standard position to start. Lift one foot and try to touch your heel to your left glute. When you push yourself back up, put your foot back down on the floor. Do a full set focusing on one leg or alternate between legs with each rep. 


Incorporating push-ups into your work routine can be a simple yet effective way to elevate your fitness journey. The functional fitness you develop from performing push-ups can help you in your daily life as the exercise challenges both the upper and lower body. By following proper form and gradually increasing difficulty, you can build strength and reap the many benefits of this versatile workout.

If you experience any discomfort during the exercise, it’s best to stop and seek the advice of a physical therapist. 

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.