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The Modified Push-Up Exercise

Essential Exercise

The modified push-up is a good all-around chest developer. It also strengthens and firms the triceps (muscles at the back of the upper arm). Just because it is modified, does not mean it won't work for you!

To most people, the push-up sounds and looks like a pretty easy movement, but there are very few people that can do a push-up with perfect form.

Most people are so used to rounding their backs and pushing with their shoulders, that they just do not know how to use their chest (pectoral muscles) for any pressing movement.

How to perform The Modified Push-Up Exercise:

  1. Place your hands on the floor slightly wider then shoulder width.
  2. Straighten your entire body and keep it like this for the whole movement.
  3. Move your shoulders over your hand so that your arm is positioned straight down into the floor (perpendicular to the floor). This will put most of the force into the chest muscles.
  4. Now you are ready to start the movement. Lower your body by bending your arms as low as you can to the floor. Do not, however, go right down. This will put a lot of strain on the shoulder joint and tendons.
  5. Push your body, while keeping it straight, back to the starting position.

The Modified Push-Up Exercise


  1. Keep your head up during the entire movement to ease the tension in your neck.
  2. Do not flair out your elbows too much. Keep your upper arm at about 45 degrees to your body.
  3. Keep all your abdominal and leg muscles tight in order to keep your body straight and stable.
  4. If your strength is not up to the task, modify this movement by putting your knees down on the floor, or your hands on a bench, coach or any inclined and stable area. By doing this you incline your body and move more of the weight into your legs.
  5. People with shoulder and/or wrist problems should avoid doing this exercise unsupervised and/or with clearance from their physician.

Using the Push-Up to Evaluate Muscular Strength

Purpose: To test the strength and muscular endurance of the flexors of the arm, shoulder girdle, and upper back muscles. If you cannot do this in the standard push-up position, use the modified as noted above.

Have a partner place his or her fist on the floor beneath the center of your chest. As you bend at the elbows, you lower your body as a unit until your chest touches the fist. Keeping your back straight, raise yourself to the up position. Repeat this procedure for one minute. If doing the procedure in the modified position, do as many as you can.


  • Zero push-ups: Very poor.
  • 0 to 2 push-ups: Poor
  • 3 to 8 push-ups: Fair
  • 9 to 15 push-ups: Average
  • 16 to 20 push-ups: Good
  • 21 to 28 push-ups: Excellent
  • 29 to 38-plus: Super

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