How To Improve Your Push-Ups

Fitness: Get Fit

By: // March 7, 2014


Learn how to do a proper push-up and improve your form to get better results!

Push-ups are one of the most important exercises you can do, but they’re difficult for many people. So, how many push-ups can you do? Is your answer zero? (C’mon, be honest. You have to know your starting point so you can brag about how many you can do a month from now.) You really can do more push-ups than you think you can do and I’m here to help you. You can get stronger. It just takes practice and a plan.

I know some of you think the idea of being able to do 50 push-ups seems as likely as spotting a UFO, but it’s not as hard as you think. If you are new to push-ups, I will give you a quick progression to build up your strength. (If you are already proficient in your push up regimen check out my past blog on push-up variations.)

Why you should do ‘em: Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises ever invented, they require zero equipment, build strength in all of the right places, have many variations to keep things fresh, and are easy to modify and track progress. You can burn calories working multiple muscle groups and shape your body at the same time. Push-ups make you strong.
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How to do a push up: When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. Each push-up needs to be a full range of motion. If you only go half way down or push your butt up in the air for several reps, you shouldn’t count them. Sounds harsh? Well, cheating never gets you ahead. Here’s how to get set up to do a push-up:

Set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hands facing forward.

Set your feet directly behind you at a comfortable position (together or slightly separated). The further apart your feet are, the more stable you will be until you are able to build your balance up enough to put your feet together.

Make your body into on straight line from the top of your head down through your heels. Your butt should stay in line with your legs and back, never up in the air. Your abs engaged and your shoulders over your wrists. (Basically a full body plank position.) Keep your neck neutral, don’t drop your head or crank it back.

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• With your glutes and abs contracted, slowly lower your body until your chest touches or comes close to the ground. Let your elbows naturally bend slightly back and keep from scrunching your shoulders into your neck. Push yourself back into the starting position. Try to keep your core body steady. Don’t sag through the low back or push your butt way up in the air.

Congratulations, that is a proper push-up! Do as many as you can until you start to feel your form slip. Only count good form and STOP when your form begins to cave. Write down how many you did and aim for 1 or 2 more the next time. Keep track of your improvement from day to day and week to week. Work your way up to 50 in a day. Why? Because it makes you strong and it’s a fun goal to set. You can do 5 sets of 10 with a few seconds of rest in between each set, but good form is a MUST!

OKAY … but if you are saying: I need to start a little slower than that Chris … here is your progression to work up to a full push up:

Start with Wall Push Ups: Set your hands on a wall at a width that’s wider than shoulder-width apart. Walk backwards with your feet away from the wall until your arms are fully extended and you are leaning into the wall. Keeping the rest of your body in a straight line, steadily lower yourself towards the wall until your nose almost touches the wall, and push back up to the starting position. Add a few repetitions each day for a week or two. Once you are up to 50 in a row with good form, move to the elevated push up.

Elevated Push Ups: Place your hands onto a sturdy table, chair or bench. If you start out with something as tall as a kitchen table, keep decreasing the incline every few days moving down to a chair or a step. Following the regular push-up form (full body plank on an inclined surface) do as many in a row as you can with good form. Practice for a week or two adding a few reps each time. Once you can do 30-50 of these, progress to the modified push-up. Group 3_0030

Try a Modified Push Up: Begin with hands on the floor, wrists below your shoulders, glutes and abs engaged, knees on floor. Do a full range of motion with your chest coming down to the floor and then push back up. Again, add a few everyday and once you are up to doing at least 30-50 in a day, you are ready to attempt the full push-up on your toes!

Alright, try these tips and let me know how you are doing with your push-ups a month from now. Remember – YES YOU CAN!

 

READ THIS NEXT: 15 Push-Up Variations You’re Going To Want To Try


Printed from GetHealthyU.com

19 Comments


Dennis Habern on January 11, 2016 at 7:04 PMReply

As a male member of the human specie, I am an amateur bodybuilder. I have been in this business for over 2 years. The gym that I am a member of here in Germany, consists of an even amout of men and women. Often times when I take my 1 minute or 30 second break between sets, I notice women performing the easy machines, and I have never observed them grabbing a handful of Dumbbells or a Barbell. Ladies, I do not believe in the cardio machines. I have never used them. If women desire to lose weight, then they have to train like a man. Women will never become bulky like men unless they maintain a competition goal. Our bodies are too different for women to bulk-up, unless that is their mission. I attempt to give women a few tips on this subject in my gym. I inform them that in order for their training to accomplish their goals, it has to hurt a little. A good website for women and men to be aware of: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/ I also inform them that their selection of meals is more important than actually exercising, because, without strict nutrition, their intense training will not bear them fruit. Everyone whom trains, need to become aware of the these 3 items: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats, which have to be ingested in correct calorie amounts each day. I train 5 times a week, and I am off on Saturdays and Sundays. For women, I inform that if they desire to reach their goals, then they must train at least 3 times per week, more if they refer. I absolutely do not use anything to do with Cardio. From what I have ascertained, Cardio accomplished for more than 15-20 minutes, can ruin one's knees if perpetuated over lengthy period of time, and supposedly, it tends for humans to age. It has something to do with radicals which destroy the cells, eventually. Supposedly, Cardio is only good for day of your training, while training with weights and machines, permits your metabolism to function for at least 2 days. I am not affirmative in Supplements, but from what I have been reading, there are some supplements that are beneficial, but they are normally expensive. I attempted to use WHEY powder, but after 3 months, I did not recognize any change in my physical appearance, therefore, I ceased purchasing it. I am a slow gainer, so patience is the key to my success. I don't believe that women whom just require to tone their bodies, need to become in- volved in Supplements, unless their goal is competition. If I had by way, the United States would maintain a mandatory weight program for all Americans, but the hospitals, the pharmaseutical companies, and the insurance companies, would go out of business. Ha!!


Cathy on August 24, 2015 at 5:50 AMReply

i have always performed push-ups with my hands farther than shoulder-width so that when I am in the down position my arms are at a 90 degree angle at the elbow. Is there anything wrong with doing them this way. I feel that keeping them at shoulder-width would be more of a chaturanga. Just curious. Thank you! I love your blog, by the way. I am 51 and recently received my personal trainer certification. I've found we think alike in so many ways.


Lisa on February 5, 2015 at 4:39 AMReply

hi, i'm trying it out for the month of February I actually printed down the calendar so I can keep track day to day . I am not very strong but hopefully will improve. thanks for the motivation


    Chris Freytag on February 15, 2015 at 3:18 PMReply

    Keep it up!


Mike on July 27, 2014 at 2:57 AMReply

Hi Chris, I am really looking for some sort of schedule with a daily routine and improvement. That helps me the best to focus and try to get further every day/week. Last month I did an abb challenge and that helped me a lot, plus I did push ups in between. Normal ones but also very wide ones and very small ones (triceps). Maybe it is a good idea to make a month overview starting with maybe 10 a day and finish with 100! What I find difficult is improving the push ups in my sets, Can you help me with this?


Christina on June 24, 2014 at 12:01 PMReply

Hi Chris! I'm going to add push-ups into my daily routine right now. You encouraged me to keep running/walking regardless of exact intervals a few weeks back and I wanted to proudly say I ran 3.6kms today without stopping :) I walked .6kms before as a warm up and .6 after as a cool down. My total average pace including the walking was 8.3 minutes/km. I know I'm slow but even at a shuffle this is way more than I could do when I started out 5 months ago. If I just keep going at it I'm hoping my speed will improve. I still haven't lost a pound and my clothes don't really fit any better but I feel great! I can find my rhythm running and while I am breathing harder than at rest and my heart rate is elevated, I feel like I can just keep going. I recover within a minute or two of walking. And no more gasping! It's amazing! I just had to share for anyone else starting out. It took me months but I'm seeing health improvements. I'm sure the weight loss will come. What's more important given my family history is that I can feel cardiovascular improvements :) yay! Love your blog and your sensible and steady encouragement and advice. Thank you!


    Chris Freytag on July 4, 2014 at 9:35 AMReply

    Christina - That's amazing! So happy to hear of your health improvements and cardiovascular fitness! You are doing all the right things! Way to Go!!!


    Chris Freytag on June 24, 2014 at 12:13 PMReply

    That's terrific progress and dedication Christina! Thank you for sharing your experience so it can inspire others! You are smart to combine cardio with strength training (like push-ups!) so you can build and retain muscle. Your muscles help your metabolism and you burn more calories at rest! Keep going! I am sure you will continue to see improvements as you stay dedicated to your exercise regimen. Way to go!!!


Bridget on October 11, 2013 at 8:57 AMReply

Thanks for the wrist roll exercise suggestion! I'll add that in and see how it goes! I can do planks, T rotations, and such so far, and I do wear an OTC rigid wrist brace when I work out. It all helps! DH is up to 5 full pushups so far (from zero), and I'm not liking lagging behind! I want to catch up.


Jessica Vergara on October 10, 2013 at 5:42 AMReply

Chris, do I need to do warm-ups before push-ups? I'm completely new to fitness and I'd love some pointers.


    Chris Freytag on October 10, 2013 at 11:13 AMReply

    You don't need to warm up! Start with a modified push up if that helps you! You can do it!


Chris Freytag on October 9, 2013 at 9:25 PMReply

Diane - you are right about resistance training ... but with pushups you can do a few everyday and keep building up ....if you get super sore ... than do take off a day or two ....otherwise ... feel free to try a few daily and keep progressing!!


Diane Longoria on October 9, 2013 at 8:52 AMReply

I love this article and your encouraging words! I also feel that push ups are an AWESOME exercise for everyone and appreciate the modifications you explained. I'm just wondering, because I didn't see that you addressed how often one should be doing this to see improvement. With resistance training, we wait a day or more between workouts for the same muscle group, so are you recommending the same with a goal of doing the push ups two or three times a week? Thanks so much for all you do, you are an inspiration!


Chris Freytag on October 8, 2013 at 8:23 PMReply

Hey Bridget, I would suggest what you are doing - holding onto weights... .but if that is even difficult - maybe you should start with wrist rolls - hold 3 lb weights and lift and lower from your wrists... work up to holding an elevated plank and then a plank on the floor... don't do the push up - just hold the plank - for like 30 seconds at a time several times a day.... as your wrists strengthen, add in a push up or two ... if you r left wrist is really weak, wear a wrist guard from the drug store for a while to protect till it's stronger!!



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