Atomize Your Push-Up

Challenge yourself with this push-up variation

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

The humble push-up is a foundational movement of any bodyweight training program. There are countless variations to suit any fitness level, ranging from beginner to advanced. A 2019 study (1) indicates that middle-aged men who can complete 40 or more push-ups in a single set had a significantly reduced chance of dying from a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, compared to men who could perform less than 10 repititions. This makes total sense, as being able to complete 40 push-ups in a row is no small feat, and is a great example of muscular strength and endurance.

Today we’ll focus on one of the more advanced versions, the atomic push-up.

Let’s review some important tips from the video.

  • Maintain a flat back and keep your body parallel to the floor by squeezing your butt, bracing your core, and pulling the elbows toward each other to engage the lats to help with this.
  • Keep your feet flexed by actively pushing your heels toward the wall behind you, but don’t have your feet against the wall
  • Complete all components of the movement at an even pace.
  • Since your feet are suspended, this creates intense instability, so think of creating total body tension to fight the instability and maintain proper form.
  • Remember to breathe, inhale as you lower down, and exhale on the way up. Inhale as the knees come in and exhale as you push the feet back.

This exercise is a staple of my routine anytime I’m doing a bodyweight workout and should be for yours as well if you’re looking for a maximal return on a bodyweight workout. This is also a great way to start a push-up drop set. Simply perform a set of atomic push-ups, remove your feet from the straps and place them on the ground and go right into regular push-ups. If you’re feeling frisky you can even finish with a negative after your regular push-ups. Come back into the top of the push-up position and lower yourself all the way to the floor as slowly as you can. I guarantee your chest, triceps, and shoulders will be burning the whole way down. Will it suck? Yes! That just means you’re doing it right. Embrace the burn and get stronger.


  1. Yang J, Christophi CA, Farioli A, et al. Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341



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