10 Exercises to Prepare Kids for a Proper PUSH-UP!

Strength training for adults and kids is paramount to any workout program.  Whether your goals are to improve your posture, balance, core strength, or simply strengthen your upper body, the one exercise that will help is the push-up.

Proper push-up form can be difficult.  Several muscles in the chest, arms, shoulders, triceps, back, and neck all have to work in concert to perform this exercise with the proper form.

Push-up muscles

As a physical education teacher, I’ve observed the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly when it comes to push-ups.

The Just Plain Ugly (PE teachers know what I’m talking about)

  • Micro Push-ups – rapid fire head movement with very limited, if any, flex in the arms throughout the movement
  • Dipsy Doodles – arms remain extended, chest up, lower body thrusts up and down
  • Halfsies – nice straight body but arms only flex a fraction throughout the movement  (can be a good lead-up to a proper push-up)
  • Floppy Fish – legs and waist flat on the ground, push up, then completely flop to the ground

Each class usually will have a couple of students who are push-up masters.  They’re often the students who are gymnasts, take a martial art form, or they’re just extremely active and possibly practice push-ups at home.

However, many students simply haven’t developed the necessary muscle strength to fulfill a proper push-up, and this is fine.  Especially since there are hundreds of simple exercises that can assist kids and adults in developing their strength, and allow them to eventually perform a perfect push-up.

10 Exercises to Build the Strength for a Perfect Push-up

Count-it-Down Negatives

Shoulder and Knee Touches

Incline Push-ups – begin with a wall and work your way down to a chair or step as you become stronger.


Army Crawl

Walking Plank

Alternating Knee Push-ups

Crab Walk

Plank Twister

Flexed Arm Plank

“We must learn to walk before we can run.”

Let’s get rid of the bad and ugly push-ups and go for the perfect form one step at a time.

Share some of your ideas on how students can increase the strength in their upper bodies to complete a perfect push-up!

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24 Comments on “10 Exercises to Prepare Kids for a Proper PUSH-UP!

  1. Push-ups are one of the many exercises I struggle with. I know they are a great strength building exercise and they’re great b/c you don’t need any additional equipment, I just have a hard time with them. Great post! Thanks for your dedication to keeping our kids strong and fit!


    • Thanks for sharing Thomas! Give them a try and let me know what you think!


  2. Absolutely wonderful. Older students who have not mastered a proper push-up should be videoed so that they are comparing their form to students their age. Keep up the good work.


    • Video is a powerful tool. We use Coaches Eye on our Ipad. Thanks for your comment.


  3. Have already implemented some of these ideas during fitness days. Will implement others starting next week and finish our fitness days strong!


  4. Excellent videos ! Thank you for sharing! Great way to implement during our fitness unit.


  5. Pingback: The PE Playbook – May 2016 Edition – drowningintheshallow

  6. Thanks for sharing. Will work great in my year 7 & 8 gym class as well as conditioning work in all subjects. 😄👍


  7. Pingback: 10 Exercises to Prepare Kids for a Proper PUSH-UP! | MrChi PE and Health

  8. Good article. I’ll take a look at the videos later. The push-up: easily the most prescribed exercise we give to students and athletes yet I’ve never seen that same coach or physed teacher teach it. Good on you for showing regressions and progressions. I know @mobilitywod and @youthfitnessguy teach it to their children and athletes.

    Dave – @APQenclasse


    • Thanks David. I remember my early years of teaching when I expected my students to do flawless push-ups without even teaching them form or allowing them to build strength first. Wisdom comes with experience, although looking back, where was my common sense? Thanks for the comment


  9. Thank you. I was shocked my son couldn’t do push ups correctly but I needed a way to help him build up the strength to do push ups correctly. You have me that info. Thank you


  10. Both of my kids (8 and 11) lack upper body strength and neither can do pushups. These are great ideas of what they can do at home. Is there any schedule/plan that you would recommend?


    • With bodyweight exercises, they can do them every day. However, this would most likely be overboard. With my kids, we would do 3-4 times per week. It REALLY helps if you’re consistent.


  11. Pingback: 7 Great Exercises With Your Kids - Heart and Soul Blog

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