Push-ups remain a standard move in fitness classes everywhere for a simple reason: They work. Sure the exercise works your arm muscles, but it’s also great for your core and chest. It’s a full-body toner. You are strengthening your shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, chest, core and glutes.

Engaging all of these muscles at once means you are upping your metabolic rate, burning a significant amount of calories and you’re helping to improve your posture, too.

Simply put the push-up is one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do and there are plenty of ways to make the move beginner friendly or more challenging. Here are a three basic push-up variations and the essential dos and don’ts that will help you master every one.

The Five Most Common Push-Up Form Mistakes:

1. Place Your Hands Correctly.

Common mistakes are having your hands too wide, or turning the hands in or out, which can lead to wrist and shoulder pain. Your palms should be under your shoulders or slightly wider and your wrists and hands should point directly forward. For the standard push-up you want to have your palms flat and flushed against the floor.

2. Engage Your Core.

You need to keep your core tight in order to maintain one solid line from your head to your toes. Be sure to suck your stomach in at all times.

3. Keep Your Hips Lifted.

Letting your hips drop down before your chest lowers in a common issue. Keep your hips lifted throughout the movement and if you notice they tend to “sag” toward the floor, lower to your knees in order to maintain proper form. If you need more support try separating your feet to create a wider, sturdier base. When you feel stable, move your feet closer together.

4. Breath.

Since a push-up challenges your entire body, you’ll need to use your breath to get you through it, so don’t hold it. Lower down slowly on the inhale and exhale as you press back to starting position.

5. Keep Your Neck Neutral.

Many people either look up or drop their heads down and look in between their feet. Neither is correct. Your head is neutral, in line with your spine and with a small tuck of your chin. Pick a spot on the floor just in front of your hands and focus on that.

Three Effective Variations That Work Your Arms, Abs And Chest.

1. A basic push-up:

  • Start in a high plank position with your hands flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your body in one long line, bend your arms and lower yourself as close to the floor as you can.
  • Then push back up to a plank.

2. Using Knees On The Floor:

This is great beginner-friendly variation of the basic plank, it will help you master proper form and work up to building a full range of motion. You’ll follow essentially the same motion as the basic push-up, but with your knees on the floor and feet up in the air behind you. The kneeling pushup is the best way to learn technique, strength and improve to the full pushup.

3. The Triceps:

The standard push-ups mentioned above will fatigue your chest and shoulders fairly quickly, but by narrowing the position of your hands, you can target your triceps instead. Place your hands slightly closer than shoulder-width apart and keep your elbows to your sides. As you lower yourself down and back up, make sure to keep your elbows close to your torso, which allows your triceps to pick up a lot of the slack of the movement.