Push-ups are one of the most effective body-weight exercises you can do. This multitasking movement doesn’t require a gym or fancy equipment and can be modified or progressed in numerous ways. You’ll also strengthen your entire upper body, especially the muscles in your chest, triceps, shoulder and core.
Despite all these benefits, push-ups can be really hard to do, because they require a decent amount of upper body and core strength. This can be frustrating!
Fortunately these tips can help you get better at pushups in no time at all. With the proper training guidelines and a bit of practice, this move will no longer be as difficult.
- Work from the bottom: It’s not hard to descend to the ground in a push-up. Gravity helps! Controlling your entire body and lifting it in unison is the hard part. So why not work on this portion of the exercise more? It helps to engage your core muscles so you can acquire the right “muscle memory” when you’re executing this move. Start by lying down on your belly, contracting your muscles throughout your glutes, thighs and core, and press up into the starting position. If you can’t keep your back flat, modify by doing it from your knees or reducing the range of motion.
- Don’t just do girl push-ups: Sure, it’s a great way to modify a push-up, but if you only spend time doing this move from your knees, you’ll soon realize that your mastery will take longer. Work on building upper body and core strength through push-up variations using a bench or sturdy chair, dumbbell chest presses, dips, plank holds and yoga poses such as Chaturanga.
- Proper wrist placement: Make sure your wrists—more precisely your thumbs—are directly under your armpits during the entire exercise, and your elbows are at a 45 degree angle from the side of your body. This will help you get better at push-ups by placing less stress on the shoulder joint and providing a stronger base from which to press.
- Don’t forget your spine: When you descend, engage your entire core to make sure your back is not dipping and your head is not falling out of alignment. A push-up should look like a plank of wood that is lowering and lifting in unison.
- Quality over quantity: Who cares if you can do 100 push-ups? I sure don’t. It’s far more effective and safer in the long run if you do three perfectly executed pushups vs. 100 sloppy ones.