Push-up’s : A beginner’s guide

adult athlete body exercise

Pushups are a great way to build your chest, shoulders and triceps that can be done anywhere.

I have been doing push-ups in one form or another since I was a young boy. They are so convenient , you can just drop down and do them.

They can be done outside, at home, at work( depending on where you work) and even on those days you just don’t want to go to the gym.

Most males can get their first one without much hassle but women tend to struggle a bit more with the first rep.

This is due to increased lower body weight in comparison to upper body and lower chest, arm and tricep strength to start with.

But that doesn’t matter. This article can help anyone get their first push-up.

Now most people perform the push-up incorrectly, myself included. I did it wrong for many years ,rendering the exercise useless.

Common pitfalls include-letting your butt sag , flaring your elbows out too wide, cutting the range of motion short.

Key is focus on Quality not Quantity.

When I started focusing on the current form as per this video Correct form push-ups the amount of reps I could do dramatically decreased.
Stage 1: Getting your first rep

Essentially a push-up is using a certain percentage of your bodyweight,depending on where you read, this is roughly around 66 %.

So to progress into doing a full push-up , the trick is to reduce the amount of weight going through the main muscles doing the push-up.
Tip 1

  • Wall push-ups- Get arm’s length from a wall. Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the wall ,bend your elbows and lower your head to the wall. Thats 1 rep. Make sure your footing is solid -no injuries okay.
  • Repeat 5-10 times. Once you can do 5 sets of 10 reps ,progress onto tip 2. More about sets and reps here-Gym language for the newbie

Tip 2

  • Incline push-ups. Find a work surface, perhaps a kitchen counter or a desk. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the wall and lower your chest to the desk surface. Thats one rep.
  • Repeat 5-10 times. Once you can do 5 sets of 10 reps, progress onto tip 3.

Tip 3

  • Push-ups with knees on the ground. Find a comfortable surface, get into a push-up position but your knees are on the ground. Put your hands shoulder width apart and go down till your chest touches the floor. That’s 1 rep.
  • Work up-to getting ten reps.
  • Once you can do 5 sets of 10 reps, progress onto tip 4.

Tip 4

  • Band assisted push-ups. Now depending on your set -up you may not be able to do these and you can progress from tip 3 to a standard push-up.
  • These are where you take resistance bands and hook them up-to a structure above. The higher the structure the easier the push-up becomes as the tension increases.
  • Here’s a video to understand( it’s a one arm push-up but principle is the same)- Using bands for pushups
  • Aim for 5 sets of 10 reps with a light resistance band .Once this is accomplished you can try for that first push-up

Now at any point you can progress slower or faster through these stages. Remember take your time and have fun. If you find you still can’t get that first push-up, increase the amount of work through each stage by doing a greater amount of repetitions or sets.

Remember to train the muscles of your back as well ,so the shoulders stay healthy. For push-ups its best to do the opposing movement which is the Australian pull-up. More on how to get your first pull-up here-Pull-ups:Beginners guide.
Stage 2: Getting to your first ten reps

Again, let me re-itterate these are ten perfect form push-ups . Not half reps, with butt sagging. Perfect form. This strategy is if you can do between 3-5 push-ups now.

Heres a week by week strategy that I have used with success in the past.

Week 1

  • Do five sets of 3-5 push-ups on five days of the week.
  • Make sure you are doing some form of Australian pull-up to keep the shoulders balanced.

Week 2

  • You will be training five days this week.
  • Four days of the week you will do eight sets of 3-5 push-ups.
  • On the final day you will do 1 set of max-rep push-ups. Write down how many you get
  • Again do your Australian pullups to keep the shoulders healthy.

Week 3

  • Its going to get hard
  • You will be training 5 days this week
  • The first 3 days you will do 12 sets of 3-5 push-ups
  • On the fourth day , you will do isometric pushup’s- link for visual-isometric pushups
  • The isometric push-ups you would do 5 sets with a hold as long as you can in the middle of the push-up. Be careful! I don’t want you falling onto your face!
  • The fifth day again go for one max set of push-ups.

Week 4

  • Break time
  • You are only training three days this week
  • On day one, you are doing 5 sets of 3-5 reps
  • Day 2- 3 sets of 3-5 reps
  • Day 3- 1 set of 3-5 reps

Week 5

  • Test time
  • The volume from the week was decreased significantly
  • This causes a super compensation effect so your body should get stronger.
  • Put on your favourite music and warm-up
  • Do 1 set of 2 reps, 1 set of 3-5 reps, rest five minutes and go for AN ALL OUT MAX SET.
  • You should be at ten or even above easily.

So there you have it . How to get your first push-up and how to get your first ten.

The steps above can be used over again even if you can do more than ten. Just increase the repetitions you do per set.

Please feel free to try these out and share , it would be greatly appreciated.

Phil

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