Tip: The Toughest Push-Up You'll Ever Do

A legend created it, so why don't more people do it? Because they're hard! See for yourself.


This tough push-up variation was invented by an old-school titan of the fitness industry, Jack LaLanne, who once set a world record doing 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes at age 42. If you're up for a challenge and a fun test of core strength, try taking on the LaLanne push-up.

Here's what the exercise looks like. If you're not able to do it yet, check out the modifications below that'll help you get there.

  1. Start on your stomach in a superman position with your feet dorsiflexed (toes toward shins) and arms extended.
  2. Tighten your core by bracing and posteriorly rotating (tucking) your pelvis.
  3. Press down and away with your fingertips (or palms) so that your entire body raises up simultaneously.
  4. Maintain a tight core as you lower yourself down and touch your nose to the floor.

The Benefits

This exercise is incredible for developing your core and will help all your other lifts. All big compound lifts require you to brace through your core and maintain tightness throughout the movement. If you can't properly brace and stay tight while doing an exercise, your spine is at risk.

The LaLanne push-up works as a very difficult anti-extension exercise and can be used as an assessment tool to show you where you may have "energy leaks" to work on.

Very few people can do this push-up on their first try. If you can't press yourself up from your fingertips or palms, start doing the following exercises to strengthen your core, lats, shoulders, and fingers to build your way up to the full LaLanne push-up.

Modified LaLanne Push-Up

Use your palms and elbows for the press. This will shorten your body's lever and allow you to practice this exercise through a full range of motion.

Extended Plank

The extended plank teaches you how to brace your core from a fully extended position.

Begin by "inch-worming" your way into a plank position. From there, continue taking your arms out as far as possible while trying to maintain a neutral spine. Hold the extended plank position for about 15 seconds before hand-walking back to a forward folded position.

Double Kettlebell Lat Pullover

The LaLanne push-up requires strong lats and stable shoulders. The double kettlebell lat pullover is a great way to challenge the stability of your shoulders and train your lats to do the shoulder extension necessary to achieve liftoff from the floor.

Begin by lying on the floor with a kettlebell in each hand. Brace your core as you lower the kettlebells over your head. Once the kettlebells near (or touch) the floor, keep your elbow straight and extend your arm so that the kettlebells raise back to the starting position.

Fingertip Push-Up

If you want to do the full LaLanne push-up, try pressing from your fingertips. This increases the range of motion, making it slightly more difficult. Fingertip push-ups will strengthen your fingers to be able to hold your bodyweight.

TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.