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The Perfect Push-up for Anyone

October 22, 2012 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Modified push-ups on a park bench, kitchen counter, desk, stairs, or wall are a great way to increase your strength and continually improve your physical fitness throughout the day.

The nuts and bolts of the perfect modified push-up:

  1. Select a surface based on your ability*. Assume the push-up position by placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart on your support structure of choice (e.g. front/back of park bench, wall, counter or desk).
  2. Take a big step backwards (as far as your legs allow you to comfortably) and ground yourself using your toes and first half of your foot. Feet should be shoulder width apart.
  3. Bend your elbows, slowly moving your body towards the support surface. Aim to get your chest within about three inches from the support. As you move down inhale through your nose.
  4. Straighten your arms to return to the starting position and exhale through your mouth on effort.

* Intensity increases the lower to the ground you get (e.g. easiest to hardest: wall, high counter,  back of bench, front of bench, floor).


  • Keep your body straight by picturing a line from your ankles, to knees, to hips, to shoulders.
  • Focus on tightening your abdominal, lower back and thigh muscles throughout the movement to get the best bang for your buck.

I hope this helps you integrate activity into your days. FYI, if you do 20 per day, even in sets of five, that works out to 600/month and your body will thank you for that. Just imagine if you did 40 or 60 per day!

IMPORTANT: Start slowly and gradually progress 5-10% a week. If you’re new to exercise and would like more assistance with this, call the Physical Activity Line for FREE guidance.

Keep positive, Keep Smiling and KEEP MOVING!

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