3 Tips For Getting To Your First Push-Up


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3 Tips For Getting To Your First Push-Up

Doing your first real, flat ground push-up is major milestone for any gym-goer. Unfortunately, I see many people struggle for way longer than necessary to reach their goal. However, I think a few minor programming tweaks can be a huge game changer for those looking to conquer the push-up. I see people struggle for 3 Big Reasons:

1). Poor Regressions Choices: The kneeling push-up, although a popular regression choice greatly limits a clients ability to progress beyond that position. The kneeling position is essentially a dead end with no avenue for increased intensity. By bending the knees you shorten the overall lever, lessening the stabilization challenge at the core; the area where most people struggle in the push-up.

A better regression approach is to use an incline on a bench, squat rack or stair set to maintain traditional push-up posture while still reducing the overall load. The incline push-up allows for quantifiable progressive resistance. By simply lowering the incline angle as you get stronger you can easily increase the difficulty and measure progress. Following incline push ups I love using band assisted push-ups to build confidence on the floor before moving on to regular push-ups.

2). Poor Anti-Extension Strength: The limiting factor in the push-up for most people isn’t upper body strength but anti-extension core strength. This is why people can often push their chest from the ground but are unable to keep their hips from sagging downward. I find that when I consistently program Anti-Extension drills that my clients progress to push-ups much quicker. The anti-extension progression I find translates best is the following: High Plank to Ball Rollout to Wheel Rollout to Bodysaw

3). Training At Low Intensity: The biggest mistake I see with assisted push-up programming is training at too low intensity. It’s very difficult to learn tensioning and get strong when training at 8-12 repetitions. Also, high rep push-ups for beginners usually means form will deteriorate about half way into the set. I would recommend lowering the assistance angle and training at a higher intensity (3-6 reps) with perfect form.

A bit more on increasing intensity.

Think of it this way:

Two people of the exact same size, age strength and training experience are trying to do their first push-up.
Person 1 is doing 3 sets of 10.
Person 2 is doing 5 sets of 5

Who do you think would get stronger faster?

Person 2, the one who is lifting heavier! Keeping the reps low and hard allows the client to learn how to create tension and will get them stronger, faster. Stick with less reps (3-6) and more sets (4-6) and save the high rep push-ups until they get a bit stronger.

Working on your push-ups? Give these tips a try and let us know how it goes!