The Playbook For The Modern Man

Fitness Coach Reveals The Push Up Mistake You’re Probably Making

Think you’re a push-up pro? Think again.

Driving your first car. Buying your first Rolex Submariner. Cooking your first steak. There are several milestones in every man’s life where he lives up to the lofty ideals left for him by Adonis, Al Pacino and Steve McQueen. But even as society loosens its thinking on what a man must be, there is still a certain pride one takes in mastering something his grandfather also struggled to accomplish – should you choose to do so.

On that note: we have some bad news. You’ve been doing push-ups wrong your whole life. And if you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been doing them, like, really wrong. Not to worry though: help is here, and it comes in the form of fitness coach Peter O Reilly.

Peter recently took to Instagram to correct the mistake you didn’t know you were making, writing, “Correct breathing when working out requires you to exhale during the highest exertion. When doing push-ups, you inhale as you lower your body and exhale as you push back up.”


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“Proper push-up technique requires you to maintain good posture and a straight body. Tighten your core muscles, quads and glutes to stabilize your body and maintain the correct position,” Peter says. Next, “Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width [and] lower your body by bending your elbows.”


“At the bottom of the push-up, your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, return to the starting position.”

As for the mistake you are probably making; “Do not hold your breath when doing push-ups, especially when you are at the end of a set and your muscles are tiring,” Peter says. “Correct breathing during push-ups helps prevent fatigue by making sure your muscles have plenty of oxygen.”


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He then cites the American Lung Association, saying, “When doing a push-up, breathe in as you lower your body and exhale during the most difficult part of the exercise, when you push your body back to the starting position.”


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  • MountainK1ng

    Who holds their breath doing push-ups? Why wouldn’t you breath in on the easy part and exhale during the work phase just like on any other exercise? What a stupid click-bait headline.

  • Dylan H

    Like I get your trying to make this a cheesy ass manly article, but this is pure garbage my dudes.

  • El pope

    Exhaling during max exertion is a canard that needs to die.

  • Richard the push up man

    I’m 64 years old and I’ve been inhaling on the way down and exhaling on the way up holding your breath is asking for a hernia

  • Richard the push up man

    Oh I’ve been doing pushups since I was 15

  • Richard the push up man

    Sorry I didn’t go to college what the heck is a canard

  • El pope

    “Fallacy” might be a better word.

  • Synitar Thrax

    Nonsense. You can play with your breathing all you want but if you’re pushing it hard you will end up breathing far faster than you could ever push yourself up and down. Better to concentrate on doing the actual movement correctly instead of trying to force your breathing into something that can’t be maintained.

  • David Robinson

    I’ve been a trainer for over 20 years, from regular people to division one and pro athletes, and it’s actually more normal than you’d think. When focusing on the mind/muscle connection and trying to get the most out of reach rep, people often forget to breathe.

  • David Robinson

    Breathing is one of the most important aspects of physical fitness, and learning to breath properly is the difference in being a runner up, to a Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps.

    Sprinters and Swimmers work on taking a breath at the optimal time (maybe every three or four paces). Watch how a Kenyan breathes in the Boston Marathon as opposed to a novice runner. You’d be surprised. Why do you think altitude is so important?

  • jwymanm

    For squat or benching (or anything where the load is placed on/above you) yes it needs to stop being said but it does seem to help with more explosive movements. A pushup probably doesn’t benefit that much no matter how you breathe unless you’re some kind of freak that can do 2000 of them. I just use pushups to get an extra pump post bench anyway and at that point I’m already fatigued.

  • Justin Pearl

    Don’t want to mention the dangers of going too far down, past 90 degrees, and impinging your shoulder joint? Permanent injury and all that? No? Just checking.

  • James


  • James

    Stay tuned…

  • christopherhill

    I breathe out on the way down and out on the way up. Then I hold my breath for at least 4 days while I run as fast as I can.

  • Mjh1234

    LOL… that’s the great thing about being able to ask Google for those of us who run across a word that we don’t understand (i.e. all of us).


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