Regardless of whether you can do just one push-up or a 100 push ups, this article's got you covered.
We’ve gone over how to perform the push-up properly, so now we need to talk about how to incorporate the push-up exercise into your training program. First let me start by saying this, if you cannot do over 10 legitimate push-ups you have no reason to lie down on a bench and try pressing, let alone variations of push-ups. Do me a favor and check your ego at the door and learn how to do this right before you bench press. The situations we will go over are as follows: 1) you can’t perform the push-up, 2) you can but can’t get more than ten, and 3) you can get more than ten and are looking for different ways to perform them. Before we get into this, you might want to go back and check the article about how to perform this exercise if you haven’t yet.
1. You can’t do a push up
Ok, don’t beat yourself up. We’re going to get there. I want you to find an object that will elevate your hands so you can hold the proper position, and you are going to work your way to the floor. Your goal before moving to a lower elevation is to be able to do 3 sets of 10 perfect push-ups, and when I say perfect I mean perfect reps. No dropping, or piking of the hips, going all the way down all the way up. Continue this until you find yourself on the floor. Great things to use are the aerobics steps that you may be able to find at your gym. You can take the risers that they have and increase the height of the box and just work your way down one set of risers at a time. I’ll show you how to use those and if you don’t have them, there are other options in the video. You may be asking, “Can I just do them from my knees?” The answer is no. Believe it or not, people have a very hard time keeping the proper position when on their knees. Let’s get you positioned right and start working towards the ground.
2. You can do push-ups but can’t do more than 10
Listen I know you want to move over there and start throwing around big weights but be patient, you’ll get there soon. First thing you need to find out is how many you can do. Let’s say the most you’ve ever done is 8. Now what I want you to do is take 3 weeks before you retest. Each week you’re going to do push-ups 2 times a week, using one of the following programs:
Try to perform this as fast as possible, without sacrificing technique and body positioning. If you can go with less than a 1:00 break that’s what we’re hoping for, but if you start to feel like you need a bigger break, use it and get it right. After the 3 weeks of training, come back on week 4 and see if you can hit 10. I’d bet that if you’re over 5 at the start you’re at 10 now. If you don’t hit 10, just recalculate what your reps are and give it a go again.
3. You're looking for ways to change up your push-up routine
Now for the big gunners out there who can hit multiple reps and are looking for something new to do with these. Now we can get into the hundreds of different variations of the push-up, but I’m a simple guy with my programming. When looking at this exercise there are really 2 ways to change it: volume and intensity. To work at a higher volume, which is an avenue I use most often with the push up, we use “The Race to 100”, and “The Mountain”.
The one thing I’ve found works best is what we call “The Race to 100 Push-Ups.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. You and your training partner are going to race in a “you-go-I-go” fashion to see who can get to 100 push-ups in the fewest sets. “The Mountain” is a “you-go-I-go” method of adding 1 rep per set up to 10 and back down to 1. So you will do 1 push up, then you’re partner does 1, you’ll do 2 then your partner does 2, all the way up to 10 and then back down to 1.
Another way is to use it as a finisher with a 5:00 drill. With this you’ll need a clock you can see. When you start the time do 10 push-ups. After the 10 hold the push-up position until the clock gets to the next minute, and then do 10 more push-ups all the way up to 5:00 for 60 total push-ups. Don’t worry about doing any extra pushing on these days. If it’s a bench press day and you’re using this for some auxiliary work that’s fine, but you’ll see really quickly any other pressing isn’t going to be needed. These push-up drills are all you’ll need here.
Now for intensity, I’m a huge fan of adding resistance to the push-up. We use chains, bands, plates and have even challenged our athletes to perform push-ups with someone on their back. Check out this video for some ways, but I’ll tell you my favorite is the chain drop set that you will see on the video. We also change how we do the push up by elevating the feet, using gymnastic rings, TRX, medicine balls, stability balls, and doing clap push-ups. I do recommend more volume based work with push-ups, but if you’re looking for a change then try some of these.
So now you know the how’s and why’s, and how to put the push-up in your program. So do me a favor and take whatever excuses you’ve been coming up with and flush them down the toilet. Get good at this great upper body and core strength exercise.
And 1R, to ensure your joints remain healthy while perfecting your push-up form, we at OneResult recommend the following supplements: