The Push-Up Technique That Will Give You Better Muscle Tone and a Stronger Core


Yesterday I had the best session with a client who’s had back pain since 1987. He’s avoided push-up exercises for as long as he can remember for fear of hurting his back.

It’s not that he can’t do a push-up; he totally can. His back just pays the price when he does.

We’ve been working together for a couple of months, and he’s ready to move into my Tuesday/Thursday morning class, so I knew it was time to cover push-up alignment.

After going over the form points, he slowly and methodically did three push-ups with spectacular form as his body trembled from the challenge.

His response afterward?

“I couldn’t do very many of those.” 

His expression was one I’ve come to recognize when someone feels muscles they’ve never known they had.

Then he said, “I could do 100 like this.” He did a pushup with shoulders shrugged into his ears, chin lifted, shoulder blades squeezed together, and elbows out to the side.

“But I can barely do one like you just showed me, and I’ve never felt my core like that in my life.”

(Side note: core activation is a hidden benefit of rib and pelvis alignment—no ab crunches necessary!)

In today’s video, you’ll learn this aligned approach to a push-up that had my client trembling in such a great way.

I’m not gonna lie; it’s super challenging, and it might take a few attempts to get the hang of it, but it is SO worth it when you do it right!

When you maintain your push-up form, you will:

  • build strength & bone density in your back to help keep your spine upright as you age,
  • create more balance in your deep shoulder muscles and help prevent rotator cuff injuries,
  • and work your core like never before!


Adding muscle tone to the arms, particularly the triceps, is another fantastic side effect.

I’d love to hear how it feels for you. After you try it, be sure to let me know in the comments below the video.

Forever aligning,


P.S. If getting on the floor is a challenge, check out this standing variation of the exercise instead:

P.P.S. Learning about alignment helped save my neck and shoulders after years of chronic pain.

Now I love helping you enhance your alignment, so you feel stronger and more flexible—and I’ve gotten really good at it!

If you’d love to learn more about alignment so you can feel more freedom and ease in your body, check out the Pilates Tonic Online (PTO) membership.

PTO is a self-paced membership that costs $55 a month.

Every month, PTO members receive the following:

  • Two live Zoom classes + the class recording (so you never have to worry about missing a class)
  • Two new movement videos 
  • The Membership Journey: a roadmap for alignment success so you get more out of every other exercise you do
  • Unlimited access to the PTO video library
  • Weekly emails





Hi, I'm Sydney and I'm a Restorative Movement Specialist here at Pilates Tonic. My goal is to empower you with tools to connect and live in your body in new and better ways. I'm a passionate advocate for wellness through optimally aligned movement and I look forward to designing a customized alignment and movement program just for you! If you want to find out more, just give me a call at 423.702.5233, or email me at See you in the studio!

4 Responses

  1. Wow! Those ribs are key, aren’t they? Everything kinda makes more sense when you deconstruct this movement for us.
    Your head seems to drop below your spine…………is this a necessary outcome of those shoulders protracting?
    Thanks for taking your time to help us really think about our movement👏🏻

    1. Such a great question, Shelley! When the ribs are aligned, it takes the rib thrust out of the exercise and unmasks the curve of the thoracic spine, so the head will look like it’s dropped lower. It looks different than what most are used to!

      The post linked below goes into more detail about what’s happening with the spine when the ribs are aligned vs. thrust:

      Hope this helps, and thanks so much for your feedback and question!

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