How To Breathe When Doing Push Ups, Properly!

How To Breathe When Doing Push Ups, Properly!

Boxers have been doing push-ups for as long as they have been getting into a ring. They are a great way to increase your upper body strength and can also be a great cardio workout. The reason they are done by every boxer is just because of how easy they are to do. You can do them as soon as you can get out of bed in the morning, or simply anywhere where there is enough room for you to lie down!

Not only will push-ups increase your power and strength, but they will also not add any unwanted muscle mass if you are trying to stick to a certain weight. There are push-up techniques that can add muscle mass, but generally if you’re looking to build muscle then it’s probably for the best to head over to the weight room.

How To Actually Do A Push-Up?

Everyone knows what a push-up is, but not many know how to do one correctly. If you asked a room full of novices to do a push-up, then you could have numerous different techniques and attempts on how to do it correctly. Most of those techniques would be fine in some respect, but if you’re serious about building your strength, then you need to do them correctly.

So how to do them correctly? Well here we’ll go through the process that will leave you with stronger and more powerful muscles.

1. Hands

The first step is obviously getting in the right position. You need to have your hands placed down on the ground at a distance that is slightly wider than your shoulders. You can place your hands down in any way that feels comfortable to you. Some people like to do them on their knuckles, it’s just about whatever feels right to you.

2. Feet

Your feet don’t play a big role in how effective your push-up will be, so you also want them to just be in a position that feels the most comfortable. Some may have their feet wider, or some may have their toes together. The main thing to note here is that a wider stance will give you a wider base and therefore will be more stable.

3. Body Shape

At this stage many people might have their hands and feet in the correct position, but might have their head in the wrong place or have their bum sticking up in the air or almost touching the ground. You need to keep your body in a straight line all the way from your head, down through your body and down through to your toes. You need to retain this form all throughout your push-up.

4. Head Position

In order to maintain your form, it’s best that you keep your eyes looking forward, as most people have the habit of looking straight down. Your chin should be the first part of your body that would come into contact with the floor instead of your nose. So keep looking ahead and make sure you maintain that body shape.

5. Lowering yourself

Now you’re at the top of your push-up you’re ready to lower yourself down and start your reps. You should lower yourself down until your elbows are at least a 90 degree angle or your chest touches the floor. This will ensure that you are lowering yourself down enough, but also giving yourself a reference point so that you know that you are achieving the same distance each time.

6. Completing your rep

As you lower your body you want to keep your elbows as close to you as possible and resist the temptation for them to push out from your body, as they tend to do as your body starts to tire. Once you have reached the floor then you want to lift your body back up the upright position as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t matter how many you can do, just make a note how many you have done and try and beat it next time. Having the perfect form will give you that reassurance that you are doing the same push-up each time so that you can keep a perfect track on how you’re increasing your reps as you get stronger.

Quick recap:

  • Hands set apart just wide of our shoulders
  • Feet in a comfortable position
  • Keep your body straight
  • Keep looking forward
  • Lower your elbows to 90 degrees or less and keep them tucked in

Different Types of Push-Up

There are a few variations of the push-up that can be used depending on your level of strength and experience. Here we’ll go through a few of the different types that can be completed.

1. Incline push-up

This is one for beginners who currently don’t have a lot of upper arm strength, or might not have even done a push-up before. This is simply where you do a push-up on something above the ground. The easiest starting point to do this would be against a wall, where you have the resistance of pushing yourself back into an upright position. This means your legs are taking a lot more of the body’s weight than a regular push-up position, so they are easier to do. As you get more comfortable then you could do these from a dining table, coffee table or even your stairs at home. Anything that is strong and stable enough to take your weight. As you get stronger, you can gradually get lower and lower to the ground.

2. Decline push-up

These are naturally more advanced as they are the complete opposite of incline push-ups. Instead of having your arms on a raised surface, this is where you have your legs raised up so therefore more or your bodyweight is being taken on your arms, so therefore they are harder to do. This can be done from any stable surface, but there is obviously more of a safety issue involved as you don’t want your legs to be too high. Having your feet pressed up against a wall might give your arms an incredible workout, but I’m not sure I’d want to be in that position when my arms start to get tired!

3. Clap push-up

Now, it’s best not to try this unless you are regularly doing push-ups and have built up a great level of strength. This simply involves doing a push-up in a normal way, but when your chest touches the ground, you push yourself as hard as you can off the floor and clap your hands before placing them back in the correct position. If you’ve never tried this before and think it might be easy, it isn’t. It requires a lot of upper chest power and will tire you out quickly. As a starting point, it is probably advisable to push yourself up off the ground and avoid doing the clap at the start.

4. One-handed push-up

Well you’ve mastered the two-handed push-up, surely you’ll be able to do half the amount of reps you can do with two hands by using one? You’d be wrong, and for most people, this attempt will stop before it can even begin. The technique is simple and just involves all the usual steps, but instead placing your hand directly under your chest. It’s very difficult, but can be a great way to build strength and muscle if you’ve already become a push-up expert.

5. Different hand positions

To keep track of your progress you’ll want to complete most of your push-ups in the standard position, changing the position of your hands can work different muscles in different ways. For example, if you bring your hands together and make a diamond shape with your thumb and index finger, you’ll find that this gives a much greater workout to your triceps. You can mess around with this to a certain extent if you’re getting bored of your usual push-up routine.

Breathing Techniques For Both Boxing & Push-Ups

Breathing is just breathing, right? Well in some sports you might be able to get away without thinking about how you breathe, and just let your body work its magic. Some sports though where the aerobic needs are so high, require much more thought, and boxing certainly ranks under that category.

Breathing in the right way in the ring should be practiced long before you get to the ropes. One of those ways would be by employing the correct breathing techniques when you are completing your push-up routine.

First of all breathing techniques will be pointless if you haven’t got the fitness to deliver enough oxygen to your body. Doing the right amount of cardio before your fight is vital, otherwise you will run out of energy incredibly quickly. Push-ups can be a form of cardio, but you’ll need a lot more with the main ways being running, cycling and boxing training. The likes of sprinting, spinning classes and boxing training like not only improve cardio, but as they are high intensity, they will also help with your breathing practice.

The natural starting point for your breathing should be to breathe through your nose and out through either your nose or mouth. This will give you a greater rhythm to your breathing and will allow you to control it more efficiently as your body requires more oxygen. You need to try and avoid the temptation to breathe through a wide open mouth, as most boxers do when they become tired. While this may be acceptable in other forms of sport, other forms don’t have a high chance of breaking your jaw if you have your mouth open.

When throwing punches in boxing, it’s best to exhale as you throw a punch, and keep exhaling if you are throwing a combination. This helps keep control of the body’s breathing rhythm and will ensure that you’re taking your breaths at the right time. Usually it’s advisable to breathe out through your nose, but if you make a “ch” sound (or similar) while throwing a punch then you will understand how you can make short exhalations without opening your mouth wide open. With push-ups it’s best to breathe out as you’re exploding back up to your upright position and practice breathing out as you are throwing your arms away from your body. The same applies when you are punched, it’s best to exhale, especially if you’re getting punched in the body.

While all that sounds fairly simple, actually doing it in a ring is another matter. Practicing your breathing while doing all forms of exercise, including push-ups, will help you to become a better boxer.

Quick recap:

  • Breathe in through the nose
  • Breathe out during punches and when taking punches
  • Make a “ch” sound (or similar) if you need help with exhaling during a punch
  • Avoid the temptation to breathe in through your mouth
  • Practice so that you make it natural

Check out the video below.. this is a great tutorial on how to do a ‘proper’ push-up.. over 10 million views so definitely worth a watch!

Breathing Correctly During Push-Ups

Now, there is a contradiction here. You can either breathe in a way that would benefit your boxing or breathe in a way that is the best for normal push-ups. For normal push-ups it his best to breathe in and out through your mouth as that is the way that your body can take in more air, which is easier and can help with the rhythm of your push-up. That is obviously different to boxing as no-one is trying to punch your jaw when you’re doing a push-up, hopefully.

The mouth vs nose debate is still rumbling on, and as you get tired your body naturally breathes through the mouth as it is easier, and takes in the more air. A lot of the time, that air is more than your lungs can actually process so it can’t even use all the oxygen that you take in. Making large exhalations through your mouth can also trick your body into thinking that it is losing carbon dioxide too rapidly, which can make your body panic in order to preserve oxygen, which can reduce your energy.

Clearly you won’t be breathing hard enough during push-ups to worry about your body shutting down like this. If you want to do push-ups the easy way, exhale on the way down, and inhale on your way back up through an open mouth. If push-ups are all that you want to do, then this would be fine. For me, however, breathing in boxing is a talent to be learned and I’d say that it’s best to take any chance you get to practice.

If this is was you want to achieve, then I’d personally breathe in through your nose on your way down. In boxing, you’d want to take in large inhales through the nose whenever you’re not taking or delivering punches. When you have reached the floor in your push-up, exhale either through your nose or you can practice making the “ch” sound as you come back up.
So there’s the answer, there’s either the right way or the way that would help you while you’re in the ring. Boxing is hard enough thinking about your feet, setting up a punch and trying to avoid them. In the heat of the moment you want to make everything as natural as possible. The only way to make something as natural as possible is to practice is as much as possible.

Push-Up Workouts

There is no right or wrong when it comes to doing push-ups, but sometimes it can be beneficial to set yourself goals or targets, so that you are kept motivated.

Beat your record

Most people just get down on the floor, do as many as they can and then finish up. As long as you know how many you’ve done, you can challenge yourself to beat your record next time and have that reward of bettering yourself.

Decreased interval

Doing a push-up can take as long or as short as you want it to. Setting a time can motivate you to do as many as you can in a specified time. You can do as many push-ups you can in a minute, have a rest, as many as you can for half a minute, rest, and then do as many as you can in 15 seconds. You can adjust this depending on your level, reducing the times, adding more times or having varying lengths of rest. Having a decreased interval will keep you motivated, knowing the time is reducing.


Set training allows you have a specified routine. A good way to do this at the start is to find out how many push-ups you can complete in one sitting, half that number and then complete five repetitions of that number. As you continue to do this, you will be able to increase your number will still completing the push-ups in a timely fashion.

Why Push-Ups Are Awesome For Boxers

1. Builds strength

It goes without saying that upper body strength is important in boxing. There are some key considerations however, as you don’t want to build up too much muscle as this can slow you down and place you in a weight class that you shouldn’t be at. Using your own body resistance as a weight is perfect for adding that strength whilst also doing great cardio.

2. Builds speed

As you get more advanced and comfortable with push-ups, you’ll be able to do more reps in a shorter amount of time. Exploding off the floor and back into an upright position will help build that powerful speed needed for a knockout punch. It makes you more athletic in the ring as your body gets used to that explosive movement.

3. Can practice breathing

There are different methods of breathing, but the techniques required in the ring can be taught and practiced outside of it. Push-ups are an exercise that all boxers should be doing anyway, but adding in those breathing techniques can make them even more useful.

Start Doing Push-Ups!

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammed Ali

If it was good enough for ‘the greatest’, then it should be good enough for all of us. Push-ups are a fantastic way to improve yourself in many aspects of boxing, without having to actually get into a ring.

Make sure that you have the correct form and try different techniques if you feel the need to. Once you’re comfortable with doing the correct push-up, focus on your breathing and set yourself goals. Push yourself to achieve more and the rewards will come.