How To Get Better At Push-Ups (+ Video)

Exercise Form, Fitness, Strength Workouts, Training Advice, Upper Body Workouts

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // October 16, 2022

Push-ups are one of the most important exercises you can do, but they’re difficult for many people. This is why we are discussing how to get better at push-ups in this article.

So, how many push-ups can you do? Is your answer zero? That’s okay! You have to know your starting point so you can brag about how many you can do a month from now.

You can do more push-ups than you think, 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 push-up variations to amp up your game.

How To Do More Push-Ups

The key to being able to do more push-ups is starting slow and continuing to practice. I’ll say it again, the key to getting better at push-ups is practice!

Our 28-Day Push-Up Challenge for Beginners is a great place to start. Each day you will slowly increase your reps and following the calendar will keep you accountable for practicing your push-ups.

Practice Push-Up Modifications

If you’re not ready to start with a standard push-up (that’s okay!), you can start with these push-up modifications. All of these modifications will allow you to begin where you are at and once you master one, then try the next one.

1. Wall Push Ups

  1. Set your hands on a wall at a width that’s wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Walk backward with your feet away from the wall until your arms are fully extended and you are leaning into the wall.
  3. 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.

2. Incline Push Ups

Chris Freytag demonstrating Incline Push-Up on a black and gray step

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

3. Modified Push-Up

Chris Freytag doing a modified push-up on knees

  1. Begin with hands on the floor, wrists below your shoulders, glutes and abs engaged, knees on floor.
  2. Do a full range of motion with your chest coming down to the floor and then push back up.

Again, add a few every day 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!

Ready for the real deal? Make sure to practice proper push-up form.

How To Do A Push-Up

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When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. Each push-up needs to be a full range of motion.

Chris Freytag demonstrating proper push up form

  1. Set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hands facing forward.
  2. 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.
  3. Straighten your body 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.
  4. Lower your body with your glutes and abs contracted 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!

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

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