The push-up is one of the bread-and-butter workouts that we all know, and we either hate them or love them. Sure, they seem simple enough on paper – lower your body to the ground and push it back up again – but it’s not always that easy for everybody. Luckily there are a few exercises and techniques that our personal trainers regularly advise, that will help you get better at doing push-ups and doing them correctly. First up, the basics:
How To Do A Push-up
Before you can even improve your push-ups, the first step is knowing how to do a strict form push-up correctly:
- Keep your feet together and make sure that your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width
- Your head and hips should be in alignment with your spine throughout the movement. Your body should form a nice straight line from your heels all the way to the crown of your head. Lock your body into position by clenching your glutes and bracing your core.
- Keep your elbows tucked close to your body when lowering yourself down. Try to form a 45-degree angle to your torso when viewed from above.
- Your chest should be a few inches from the floor in your lowest position
- Don’t twist your shoulders or torso on the way up; keep the weight of your upper body evenly distributed between your hands
With the above in mind, practice makes perfect. Once you’re confident you have the basics of proper form mastered, you can figure out what your push-up level is. Keeping to proper form, see what your maximum amount of reps is. This will be the foundation on which you can improve your technique and max reps.
If you struggle do any push ups at all, try try incline push-ups and push-up static holds
If you can’t do any push-ups, try with your hands elevated (about 12 inches at least), by using a bench, table or box. These are incline push-ups and are fantastic for beginners. Start by performing 3 sets with a minute rest between each set. Once you’re able to do 3 sets of 10 reps at your starting height, try lowering the height and repeating the workout.
If you can do 3 to 6 push-ups, try negative reps and low-rep sets
On your workout days, try to do some push-ups stopping a couple of reps shy of your maximum (even if this means just doing one push-up). Try doing this up to a dozen times throughout your workout or just during the day at random intervals.
On those same days, practice with some negative reps. Using perfect form, take 10 or 20 seconds to slowly lower yourself from the starting position to the floor. Return to the top position and repeat for a total of three slow but effective reps.
If you can do 7 to 10 push-ups, try low-to-mid reps
It’s at this stage that it’s most likely just the ‘sticking point’ at the bottom of the push-up movement that’s holding you back. To remedy this, try 3 sets of regular push-ups, stopping a couple of reps before your max. Then add a full set of low-to-mid reps; which consist of going from the lowest position to the midpoint (chest halfway between the floor and the top of the position), once again stopping a few reps before your maximum.
Don’t stop there!
No matter where you start on your road to push-up mastery, there’s always ways you can change up your workout and perfect your technique. Start small if you have to, but with dedication and practice, you’ll be surprised how much a simple push-up routine can increase your strength.