3 Simple Steps to the Perfect Pushup

Master the classic fitness move and say hello to a better butt, stronger shoulders and champion core.

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Think you can't do regular pushups? This guide will take you from "No way" to "Hooray!" in a few weeks.

If you've been wanting to make the move from modified pushups (the ones with your knees on the floor) to straight-leg pushups, doing more of the modified kind won't necessarily get you there.

Instead, use this three-step progression to engage and build all the muscles you'll need. The trick: Start on an elevated surface and work down to the ground over the next few weeks, says New York City trainer Nick Mastropasqua, CPT, who showed Dr. Oz The Good Life reader Larissa B. how to do each move. Let's get started!

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Step One: Wall Pushups

How to do it: Start facing a wall, with your feet about a foot away. Place your hands on the wall, slightly below the top of your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from your ankles to your ears (abs tight!), and bend your elbows so you lower your body toward the wall. Push back away from the wall, extend fully and repeat.

How many: When you can complete 10 pushups in a row without losing your form or having to stop and rest in between, move to step two. Try to do these every other day, and you'll progress faster.

Step Two: Elevated Pushups

How to do it: Start with your feet on the floor and hands on an elevated surface that won't move anywhere, like the kitchen counter or a step on a staircase. Keep your hands just below your shoulders. Hold your body in a straight line and bend your elbows so you lower your body toward the surface. Expert tip: Your elbows shouldn't be straight out to the sides when bent; let them point toward your toes a little bit.

How many: When you can do 10 pushups in a row without losing your form or having to stop and rest in between, move to step three.

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Step Three: Pushups!

How to do it: Congratulations, you're here! Start facing the floor, arms extended, abs tight, weight on your hands and on the balls of your feet. Just like you did in the past two steps, keep your body in a straight line from ankles to ears and lower your body until your chest is an inch or two above the floor. Push your torso away from the ground until your arms extend fully and repeat. Note: Curvier bodies won't always look ironing-board straight. It's the straight line between your ankles and ears that really matters.

How many: Work up to 10 of these; stop when you can't complete another repetition without your form breaking down. Then work up to 20. The sky's the limit!

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