The standard pushup is one of the most common exercises, reports "Muscle & Fitness" magazine. And while the pushup's movements are simple and require no fancy gym equipment or weights, it helps target a wide range of muscle groups including your triceps, shoulders and chest. To get the most out of this exercise, learn the facts about proper form and movement to help you build muscle while minimizing your risks of injury.
Position your hands palms on the floor, spacing your hands apart by your shoulders' width. However, if you wish to put a bigger emphasis on your chest, place your hands a few inches wider. In contrast, positioning your hands so that they're narrower than your shoulders puts the emphasis on your triceps and back muscles.
Stretch your legs out behind you with your feet together and balance on your toes. However, if you haven't done pushups before, you may find it easier to maintain your balance by spreading your legs and feet apart by a few inches.
Keep your entire body in a straight line. The back of your head should form a line with the rest of your spine, with no arching or sagging of your back or buttocks. Arching, straining or sagging of your torso can put stress and pressure on the wrong points in your body and lead to injuries.
From the starting plank position, with your toes and hands on the ground and your arms straight, tighten your buttocks and abdominal muscles. Slowly lower yourself to the floor by bending your elbows, pausing once your chest is approximately an inch above your exercise mat or the ground. Stop at this point, then push yourself back up into the starting plank position. Remember to breathe evenly during this entire movement.