The pushup is one of the simplest, most important exercises you can do – period!
Still, many people can’t do one proper pushup when they embark on their fitness journey, and even more, people do pushups improperly.
If you struggle with your pushup game, this article is for YOU.
I will teach you how to do a pushup properly and also how to become strong enough to do full sets of 20!
Read on to become the pushup champ you always dreamed of with my push up workout for beginners!
The ABC: How to Do Your First CORRECT Pushup
The pushup is a great exercise that trains your shoulders, arms, and chest along with your core muscles.
Unfortunately, they don’t get as much respect as they’re owed, thanks to years of doing bad pushups under the orders of a gym class teacher.
- Flaring elbows,
- sagging stomach,
- improper depth on the lower part of the exercise…
There are plenty of things that go wrong!
Unlike other exercises, mainly those that use free weights, the pushup is virtually risk-free and can provide your body with enough stimulation to grow at an incredible rate!
The position you hold during a pushup is, in essence, a harder variation of the plank. Core strength is vital for your health, so try to focus on every aspect of the exercise to make the most of it.
6 Smart Beginner Tips for Making Your First Push up
The form of the pushup varies according to your limb length and existing injuries, but here are a few points on how you should best perform a pushup:
- Keep your torso and hips aligned; do not sag or stick your butt up. If you have difficulty doing that, you must train your core.
- Your elbows should be in a position of 15 to 30 degrees, close to the torso, slightly wider than your shoulders. This will help train your serratus anterior, a small but essential muscle.
- Keep your legs together.
- Contract your quads, perfecting your posture for as long as you can hold it! Doing so will stabilize your spine.
- Maintain a steady speed, two seconds up, two seconds down.
- When you perform a pushup, you should look like an arrow, not a T. A T position is stressful for your shoulder joint, whereas an arrow position is the strongest position possible for your chest muscles.
If you find that you’re not strong enough to do a proper pushup yet, do not be dismayed:
Strength can be improved in a matter of weeks. No kidding!
Begin by doing pushups on your knees instead of on the balls of your feet, and you’ll gradually be able to do regular pushups in no time…
After you reach the point where you can do 20 pushups on your knees, put a small ball or even a basketball under your chest, assume the “real” pushup position and pump out slow reps until you touch it.
Gradually change the ball to a smaller one until you’re as close to the ground as possible, or swap the basketball outright for normal, full pushups.
For even more cool ways to do push-ups, take a look at this massive list 82 different push up variations!
How to Improve Your Pushup Game
So, now you are doing your first push up:
Give yourself a tap on the shoulder. Well done!
Now, let me show you how to take it to the next level…
How to do More Push Ups: Beginner Push up Progression Exercises
Fundamentally, there are two ways to get better at pushups:
One is to become stronger, and the other is to become lighter; to be specific, less fat.
The second option is straightforward: A caloric deficit, a good exercise plan, and time will bring results.
The first option is a bit more complex but is based on the principle of progressive overload.
A strength-based progression will include using bands, raising one of your legs while doing pushups or wearing a backpack with heavy books while doing pushups.
Do not increase the resistance for more than 3-5 kg at a time, as you may find it too challenging. If you can do 12 pushups with added resistance, you can definitely do more than 12 without it.
An endurance-based progression includes doing a lot of pushups. Simply do 5 sets of as many pushups as possible whenever you’ve programmed a workout.
There’s also the approach of treating strength as a skill, following the words of the great Soviet Special Forces instructor Pavel Tatsouline.
Greasing The Groove: The Soviet Way to Push up Progress
“Greasing the Groove”, as the method is called, focuses on building up your neural pathways instead of just building up your muscles.
Strength is dependent on your nervous system as much as it is dependent on your muscles. In other words, you can become stronger by doing an exercise a lot on top of your usual workouts.
So, here is how it goes:
During your typical day, you will do some push-ups whenever you encounter a predefined “trigger.”
If you can comfortably do a set of 12 pushups, use 30 to 40% of that, so 4 to 5 reps. This will be your working set.
Now pick a trigger for your working set:
It can be anything from passing by the bathroom doorframe or opening the fridge. You choose!
How to Get Stronger by Greasing the Groove https://t.co/1wdQjonMuX pic.twitter.com/qAQtHB7w5g
— Art of Manliness (@artofmanliness) January 22, 2018
On the first day, do 3 sets of your working set amount – one every time you pass the doorframe (if that is your trigger) until your sets are finished. Slowly increase the volume over time: 3 days later, do 4 sets, and so on, but do not push yourself to the limits.
Make it a part of your daily routine and do it with 2 or even 3-hour breaks between sets.
Above all, remember to get a feel for your body’s needs and situation. If you feel that you can’t handle GTG for a day, skip it!
Consistency over long periods is key; a missed session won’t hurt, but 5 might. Greasing the Groove focuses on the technique.
Do proper repetitions with textbook form, and your neurons and muscles will adapt to the perfect movements, minimizing your chances of injury.
The downside to this amazing technique is that it rarely carries over to other exercises unless the movements are very similar.
If you focus solely on greasing the groove with pushups, you won’t see much of a change in the amount of weight you can press over your head, for example.
3 Factors Preventing You From Push up Success
Now that the instructions, technique, and methods have been covered, there’s one last part to perfecting the pushup.
Here are the three limiting factors when it comes to achieving the strength to do 20 pushups:
- A weak core
- Weak pushing muscles
- High body fat percentage
The first two can be overcome by doing more pushups.
The third can be helped by regular exercise, but the primary battle happens in the kitchen…
Keep your diet healthy, and don’t overdo the junk food intake! You can exercise 4 hours a day with no results as long as the food you provide your body with what it needs!
As for the pushups, practice makes perfect. Aim for doing 3 to 4 pushup-focused workouts per week and greasing the groove every other day, provided that your body can handle the extra stress.
Keep going, and results will come!
The Perfect Push-up Workout for Beginners: Progression Program
So, here it the beginner push-up progression program – AKA the secret sauce to push up success:
- Start off with a workout focused on high resistance,
- followed by a day of rest and light GTG,
- followed by a day of an exercise focused on endurance,
- followed by another day of rest and light GTG.
After the fourth day, start the “cycle” all over.
This is the way to go for a program with high requirements and good intensity.
The 7th day, you can take a complete rest. You deserve it!
If you feel like you can’t handle the volume of this program, adjust it according to your needs by removing GTG or a workout. After 2 weeks, take a 3-day rest to allow your body to fully recover and see how much you’ve accomplished since day 1.
If everything was done right, the difference in strength will be great!
If you began this program as a person that can do a set of 12 perfect full pushups, you might achieve the goal of 20 in a month or 6 weeks.
Final Words: From Push Up Beginner to Push Up Champ
Statistically, above 80% of all blog readers quit an article before they reach the end…
As you are reading this right now, congratulations! You have made it to the end!
By reading to the end, you now know everything you need to know to master doing push ups.
I have given you:
- Six smart beginner tips on how to do your first push up,
- Beginner Push up Progression Exercises,
- Instructions on how to “grease the groove”
- The 3 Factors Keeping you from mastering the pushup game,
- and last but not least: A push up workout for beginners!
By following these tactics, you will be doing tons of push ups in no time. You have my word!
If this article made you hungry for more calisthenics fun, you should DEFINITELY check out my massive guide on bodyweight workouts for beginners, – loaded with bodyweight exercises you can start doing immediately!
I’ve got tons of articles like this push up workout for beginners crafted to help you become a fitter you! Check out my at-home strength training archive and BOOKMARK IT!
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