Push ups are an amazing full body exercise, and the bonus with them is that you don't need any equipment so you can do them anywhere! The problem is that they're really friggin' hard! And doesn't it seem like no matter how much you try, they're constantly a struggle? I know, I hear you! But in a weird way, that's also why I like them so much! LOL. You'll never get bored, they'll always give you an effective workout, and they can motivate you to get stronger!
So why are push ups so hard anyway? Well for starters, let me clarify that I'm mainly talking about women here. Men seem to have this super annoying and uncanny way of busting out 20 perfect push ups even if the last time they did them was 20 years ago in high school gym class!!
Whereas women are like:
First off, push ups actually require more than just strong arms. We need to connect with our ENTIRE body to execute a good push up. Many of the muscles required to lower ourselves down and push ourselves back up are really under-utilized and weak! We also forget (or don't know how) to ask those muscles to participate.
Instead of thinking about your arms doing all the work and controlling the entire exercise, we have to ask our back muscles, our butt, our abs, and even our legs to help out. If we can give the arms less work and distribute the effort to other muscles, suddenly that push up might feel a bit easier! Notice I said "a bit", because let's face it, they're still hard! Yes, incorporating the entire body is extremely useful, but we also need to strengthen each of those muscle groups AND we need to practice, practice, practice!
Here's a list of important things to consider when looking to improve your push up:
Repetition/Consistency - in order to get stronger at ANY exercise, we absolutely must DO IT frequently, for a certain number of reps, and repeat on a regular basis. Basic strength training rules tell us that our body gets better at the things we do consistently. So if you're only struggling through a set of push ups every couple weeks, that won't help you get any better at them! You need to find a variation that you can do for at least 6 reps with good form, and repeat those reps for around 2-4 sets.
Start Slowly - Most of us aren't strong enough to do 6 -10 push ups on our toes for multiple sets, so we end up doing a few poorly executed ones. Maybe our first round we do 10 on our knees, the second round we can only do 6, and by the third round we've basically thrown in the towel and are lying on the floor! Another basic strength rule is that we need to slowly increase the intensity and prepare the body properly for the exercise. We can do this by making push ups easier, and then as we get stronger at them, we progress to harder versions. This is why I love an elevated push up. You can easily use things around your house such as countertops, sides of couches, coffee tables, stairs, chairs, etc to elevate your hands on.
Learn Technique - How DO you do a proper push up anyway.?? Do a quick Google search and you'll see all sorts of atrocious looking push ups! You'll also see elbows wide, elbows in, hands wide, hands together, toes, knees, clapping, dive bombing, etc etc etc. I want to give you the one type that I teach all my clients and that I believe is a good place to start. I'm not going to argue that there is one right or wrong way, I think variety is always good, but in an effort to keep things simple, we'll look at one specific example. In lieu of copious amounts of writing, check out my 'Push Up Party' Youtube video below! This video was taken awhile back for my membership site and is the perfect example of how to regress and progress the push up.
The last thing I want to add is that I love to use the cue "PULL yourself into the push up". In fact I just created an IG post about it recently, so make sure to check that out too!
OK, I hope that gives you some motivation and insight into how you can improve your push up today! Since most of us are working out at home a bit more than we used to, push ups will most likely be an important part of your home workout routine!
Take care and happy pushing!
BONUS: Grab my complimentary video and PDF guide of exercises that will help you improve your push up. Like I said, we need to strengthen the individual muscles that are involved in the push up. Once they're stronger, you'll be able to ask them to join in the party much more easily!
(P.S. If you're on my email list now, you probably got it already!)