Skip Nav
Healthy Eating Tips
I Added These 4 Things to My Salad and Now I'm Not Hungry Till Dinner
Before and After
These Are the 4 Kinds of Exercises I Did to Grow My Booty in Just 6 Weeks
Beginner Fitness Tips
Workouts That Give Me Everything Running Promised (but Didn't)

Push-Ups to Tone Your Upper Body

Take the Push-Up Challenge

We all know that doing push-ups is a great way to strengthen and tone your arms and upper back. I love them because they require no equipment, they're fast and effective. They really only take a few minutes to do each day, so you have no excuse for not fitting them in.

So here's a challenge for you. Start incorporating push-ups into your daily routine. Yes, I'm talking about doing them every day. You can do "classic" push-ups with straight legs in the plank position, or if you're just starting out, rest your knees on the floor. Make sure your form is correct and that you're not straining your lower back at all. If you're not sure if you're doing them right, ask a trainer for some tips.

Start with doing one, five, or as many push-ups as you can do today. Do that amount every day for the next week. Then next week, add one push-up to your routine and continue with that number for the week. Keep adding a push-up a week. Do have a goal in your mind, such as 50 push-ups, and gradually work your way up to your goal amount. You'll be amazed at the strength you build.

Fit's Tips: Once you reach your goal, don't quit there. Continue to do your push-ups every day and your arms will feel strong and toned just in time for tank top season. When I am cold, before turning up the heat, I drop to the floor and do some push-ups. They really get the blood flowing and warm me up!


Join The Conversation
Kizzy14814267 Kizzy14814267 4 years
I recently got back to daily pushups. Years ago I was in the Army N.G. so we did pushups everyday except Sunday in basic, but I got away from it. About three weeks ago, I decided to go back to it. I like working out, but working full time, going to school for a Ph.D and being married with two kids consumed a lot of time. I set a goal of 100 pushups a day and quickly progressed to 200 a day. My new, immediate goal, is 1000 a week for a couple of weeks before I progress to 1200 a week (5 days). If you are starting out, don't be discouraged, my body quickly adapted to daily work and now 200 a day doesn't leave me sore the next day. Time to bump it up to 250 a day.
supertommy supertommy 9 years
push-ups are probably the greatest single exercise for your upper body second only to the pull-up. I read someone's comment about the body adapting to push-ups quickly and that is true, good thing there are so many variations! to quickly make things harder you can increase the distance from your hands to the floor so that you increase your range of motion or elevate your feet so make it more difficult. Lifting one foot off the floor will make it harder as well--removing any point of contact from the floor will force you to use other muscles for balance. there's this 100 push-ups in 100 seconds challenge that some of you might be interested in. I would love to see a lady accomplish this feat because I'm sure a lot of bench pressing "manly" men can't do it. the challenge:
vxgirlxv vxgirlxv 9 years
Totally starting today! Not sure how good I'm gonna do though....I have absolutely NO upper body strength! Cant hurt to try..right!?!
lisaleeh lisaleeh 9 years
Count me in! I'm going to get my 9 year old son to do this with me every day.
veronicaraye veronicaraye 9 years
I wanna try
magita magita 9 years
nslods, if you place your hands in different positions it works the muscles differently...if you bring your hands in close under your shoulder, it focuses more on your triceps. if you do wide-arm pushups, it works more of your chest muscles. A good way to do pushups (I think) is to alternate sets of wide-arm, regular, and close-hand (where your hands are almost together) pushups. That way you get the benefit of working out lots of muscle groups in your upper body. Plus when you start to get fatigued, if you reposition your arms you can often crank out a few more because it gives other muscles a chance to do more work.
nslods nslods 9 years
I'm definitely up for the challenge, but one of my biggest unanswered questions is where do you put your hands for a push-up? I've heard of putting them directly under your shoulders, and then other times I've heard of people doing 'wide' push-ups. What's the best one to do?
PrincessTracy PrincessTracy 9 years
That's actually a really good idea to add one a week!! It's a good way to at least have a minimum goal in mind and not be discouraged and quit because you're trying to overdo it...(myself being the example) I'm gonna try this!!! I have NNNNOOOOO muscle...
kxm24 kxm24 9 years
I didn't think I could do any "real" pushups with good form, but I tried it earlier today and did five. For now i'm gonna set my goal at 30.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I'm going to start doing pushups every day now. I do them sometimes when I remember, but I should seriously do them more often because they tone your upper body like nothing else can. I can definitely do a "real" pushup, but the modified knee pushups are a bit easier if you're a beginner. I sometimes do "extreme" pushups where you lift up on one side of your body after coming up off the ground...those are really tough and work your core.
hllrbackgirl hllrbackgirl 9 years
I could do pushups at one time..then I quit. I'm definitely up for the challenge because I've realized my upper body is very weak.
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
Your body gets used to pushups really quickly, it's facinating. I used to be able to do 20 after only one week, in which I started with only being able to do ONE! It was quick. Just make sure to not rest your weight on your wrists... really use your fingers to stabalize'll also give you MORE power.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Prevention Magazine has a New Year's Push-Up Challenge - I think it is really good for those that really need to get their core and arm strength started from scratch... It also reminded me to do more planks overall for my core!
JustSomeChick JustSomeChick 9 years
Love this idea! I will start this today!
juju4 juju4 9 years
I wish I could do real push-ups! I have wrist issues, and can't put my hands in a 90 degree angle on the floor. Instead, I have to use my stairs and wrap my hands around the front of the lowest step in a c-shape. (Like I am riding a motorcycle, except my grip doesn't close). It's the closest I can get, but I can tell it doesn't work all my muscles the way a real one would. Are there any machines or free weight exercises that anyone knows of that would mimic the motion of a push-up without putting my hands on the ground?
leahlarocco leahlarocco 9 years
I hate pushups. Dear God, anything but those. I'm starting small with your 10 minutes a day suggestion. baby steps. baby steps.
nancita nancita 9 years
Great idea. Now I feel inspired to try to do 50 pushups!
kxm24 kxm24 9 years
I definitely need to do push-ups. My arms are my weak spot, I do other arm exercises but not push-ups cause I can't do them very well. I'm in for the challenge.
ER1008 ER1008 9 years
push ups are probably my number one most disliked exercise...but i've tried to incorporate them into my workouts because my arms do need more toning, so i will try this.
chibarosa chibarosa 9 years
On November 5th I made up my mind that I would start doing push ups. When I started I could barely do one on my knees :( With a lot of persistence and some weight training to help me build those muscles, I can now do two sets of 20 real push ups (my husband calls them "big girl" push ups). My next goal is pull-ups! I've never been able to do one but by golly I will!
rumpel2 rumpel2 9 years
great suggestion to add one every week!!
hmmmmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmmmm 9 years
I have a question though: what about the day (or two or even three) that weight lifting instructors advise waiting between working out a muscle group? I've often wondered this because mostly I do lighter weights for toning instead of trying to build massive muscles. Maybe there's a difference between a guy who is pumping hundreds of pounds and a girl who is lifting 10-20lbs??? Does that make it okay to have shorter periods in between working out the same muscle groups or should you still wait? However for me, push ups are not really lighter weight exercises:o(
sunshyne sunshyne 9 years
my arms got so much more toned within the 2 weeks after i changed to "real" pushups. and when i'm in a boring meeting and about to fall asleep, i excuse myself and go do some pushups in my office. wakes me right up :)
tabloidprincess tabloidprincess 9 years
I do push ups daily. :)
David Kirsch Workout Tips
How to Lose Weight Fast For Summer
How to Buy the Right Sports Bra For Big Busts
Jennifer Lopez Working Out With David Kirsch Video
From Our Partners
Latest Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds