The Pushups Workout
Push ups have always been a symbol of upper body strength and fitness. Properly done push ups will build your chest, shoulders, upper arms and upper back and get you in great shape. The push up program’s purpose is to increase the maximum number of push ups you can do in a single set.
Push-ups are one of the simplest, least expensive, and yet most effective exercises to build a strong upper body and midsection, provided you do them correctly. By perfecting your technique, you can actually target different muscle groups, including not only your chest muscles but also your abs.
Another boon: there are so many ways to vary the intensity and level of difficulty of a push-up – it’s an exercise you can keep in your repertoire more or less indefinitely without hitting a plateau. I personally do 25 pushups twice a day.
Time recently shared six ways to get the most out of your push-ups, which I’ll summarize below. I’ll also include a wide variety of tips and tricks, from beginners’ to advanced, to help you optimize and grow with this exercise.
But first, let’s review the proper form for a basic push-up. If you get this wrong, little else will matter.
Proper Push-Up Form
Going too fast and using only partial range of motion are two common mistakes people make when doing push-ups. In the video above, fitness trainer Darin Steen reveals how to correct these mistakes and demonstrates proper form.
He also demonstrates a number of the modifications I’ll review below that can take this exercise to the next level. But first, here’s a summary of the basics of proper form:
- Slow down your movement, and use a three-second contraction. Try to really feel the muscle groups you’re targeting.
- Do a full range of motion. Lower your body all the way down, allowing your sternum to gently touch the floor, and push all the way up. Your arms should be straight, without locking your elbows.
- Pay attention to the alignment of your elbows. The ideal angle from your sides is about 45 degrees. This allows you to effectively work your chest muscles and prevent injuries from overextension.
- Keep your body stiff and straight as a plank, including your head. Pay careful attention and make sure you don’t drop your head forward; it needs to be in line with your back.
- Breathe in on the way down; breathe out on the way up, through your nose, not your mouth.
For best results you are going to do 3 different push up exercises and you will work out only 3 times a week.
Start with a regular push up. The goal is to do 3 sets of 12-15 reps. If it’s hard for you, then you can start by doing lower number of push ups. (8,9,10 for example). Go all the way to the ground and then explode all the way back up. Rest only 30 seconds between sets.
The next exercise is the close hand push up. The goal here is to do 3 sets of 10 reps. Just like in the first exercise your rest periods between sets should be 30 seconds. Again, all the way to the ground and all the way up with explosive movement.
The third exercise is incline push ups with your feet elevated on a chair. This exercise will be harder than the previous two, so the goal is to do 3 sets of 8 reps. You may also need more than 30 seconds of rest between sets so use 45 to 60 seconds of rest on this exercise. Go all the way to the ground and then explode all the way back up.
Remember, warm up well before starting the workout and stretch after the workout. Try to add 1-2 repetitions every workout, or 3-6 repetitions every week. In about 10-15 weeks of regular workouts you should be able to do 100 push ups in a single set.