Push ups are HARD!
They may look like a fairly simple exercise, but they actually require considerable upper body and core strength to execute them correctly. Most of the clients I train start out as beginners, and some have never done push-ups before at all. So if you’re not a push-up pro not to worry! You can always improve, I promise!
Push-ups are a good indicator of a person’s overall upper body strength. During my fitness assessments I always include push-ups to get a baseline measurement, and keeping track of progress as my client’s get stronger!
So here is my step-by-step guide to mastering push-ups once and for all, AND a handy guide so you can see how your push-ups measure up!
- Incline Push-Ups
Keep your core engaged and your body in a nice straight line. No saggy hips or butt in the air! At home, a bathroom or kitchen counter is usually a good starting height for most people. Just make sure whatever you choose to push against isn’t going to move!
As you bend your arms and lower yourself down, make sure your chest is meeting the bar (or counter, or whatever), not your face!
Once you can do a set of 15 reps at this height, find something a little lower to increase the difficulty….
My form hasn’t changed, I’ve just changed the angle of the movement to up the ante. At home, if you have stairs you can use those to gradually work down on your incline.
2. Modified Knee Push-Ups
Once you can complete a good-quality set of 15 reps of incline push-ups at about hip height are you ready to move on to push-ups on the floor. Same form still applies, keep that core engaged!
Once you can complete a good set of 15 reps of these bad boys (getting your chest all the way to the ground on each rep) You’re ready for the real deal!
3. Full-Out Big-Girl From-Your-Toes Push Ups!
Now, don’t come this far just to cop out. Make sure your elbows are bending to at LEAST 90 degrees with each rep. No baby push-ups! If you can’t manage that deep of a bend, or if your shoulders are in pain, go back to step two and keep working on getting lower
4. See how your push-ups measure up!
Test yourself to see how many push-ups you can do in one set with proper form. In order for a push-up to count your elbows must reach at least 90 degrees and your body must stay in a perfectly straight line. No saggy hips or butt sticking up in the air!
Here are the standards according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Some sources limit the test to 1-minute, but if you’re a beginner just see how many you can do!
If your numbers are less than the averages, never fear! Anyone can improve their push-up numbers with a little practice and consistency. If you really want to master this move, include push-ups in your workouts 2-3 times per week, and you’ll be moving up the ranks in no time!
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Check out my other articles for more fitness challenges you can do at home!