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Bodyweight Exercise: Strict Push Up

Bodyweight Exercise: Strict Push Up

Written by
September 23, 2014
Updated May 17, 2016


The Strict Push Up is one of the most basic bodyweight exercises and is still a primary test for upper body strength and conditioning. While the Push Up fully engaging your shoulders and lats in a pushing movement, the exercise also engages your core, requiring you to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement by holding a plank position.

Exercise Steps

Step 1: Start with your hands on the ground, shoulder width apart. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders should be stacked in a vertical line from the ground. Keep your middle fingers pointed straight ahead of you with your fingers spread. Place your feet straight behind you and keep them together. Get into a plank position with your spine neutral, including your neck (don’t look forward).

Step 2: Bend your elbows at a 45 degree angle out from your body, lowering yourself steadily towards the ground.

Step 3: Once your sternum is 3-4 inches from the ground, pause briefly before raising your body back up to the starting position. Each rep requires that you lock out your arms prior to proceeding with the next repetition. Your body should never flex or break at any point during the Push Up.

Tips & Safety: If you have wrist issues, point for index finger forward rather than your middle finger; this should relieve some strain.

John Wolf is Onnit's Chief Fitness Officer, and an expert in unconventional training methods such as kettlebell, steel club, and suspension training. With 15-plus years of experience in the fitness industry, he has worked with rehab clients and athletes of all levels. He moves like Spider Man and can deadlift more than 500 pounds any day of the week.
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