How to do a Proper Push-up, part 3.

The last couple weeks, I’ve been writing about how to do a proper pushup starting with instructions on how to do a plank– the great first step, and then how to do a wall push-back and progress that move downward until you reach the floor.

Today- at last – the steps to get from a knee-push up to the dreaded but admired full pushup.

Anyone having trouble with a full push up will decry their lack of upper body strength. We’ve been working on that with the push-backs. On the floor, however, I believe that the real problem is weak core and poor form on doing a push up. The difference in the percentage of your body weight you are pushing between knees push-ups and full body pushups is less than 10%. That means that if you can do 10 knee pushups you are strong enough to do at least one real pushup.

And I believe if you practice planks and wall push-backs, you can be strong enough to do ONE regular push up within a month of starting. It’s all been in laying that foundation.

  • Start on the ground on your hands and knees.  Walk your hands forward until your body makes a straight line from the knees to your head.  Your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Your core is engaged. Fingers are pointing forward. Feet together.  (do not let your heels fall out).
  • Lower your upper body down to the floor in a straight line. Feel the tension in your upper back.
  • Push your body back up to the start position maintaining that straight line. Do not let your hips either sink below that line or pike above it. If it does, your core is not properly engaged.
  • Continue until you can do 10 or more of these.

Moving UP to the regular push up.

Begin as if you will be assuming a plank position, but maintain your weight on your hands instead of your elbows.  (see?  easier already than a plank).

  • Engage your core, and press back through your heels. This last point?  Very important.  It makes sure the whole body is tight and moving as one. Otherwise, you are putting a lot more demand on your upper body to move your hips and legs.
  • Lower your body down in a straight line until your chest is just above the ground. Inhale as you lower down.
  • Hold this position for one count.
  • Exhale and quickly push yourself back up to the starting position.  Instead of thinking about moving your body up- try to press the floor away from your shoulders.

I find doing regular pushups easier than doing too many “knee” pushups.  At the point that you find you can do 1 or 2 regular ones, begin with these – and drop to your knees to complete a set.  Next time, try just one more push up before dropping to your knees.

Do not be surprised if you notice that the third or fourth time you do a set of pushups in a workout that you can suddenly do more than you could in the first set.  Your muscles get all “shocked” and prepared for the movement and your CNS starts programming the “connection” to make it more efficient.  At the end of a workout, you may be banging out 2 or 3 more standard pushups than you were at the beginning.

Now it’s just a matter of repetition.  Within another month, you should be doing a completely set of standard pushups.  Come on.  YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!

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