Push-ups are one of the simplest, least expensive, and yet most effective exercises to build a strong upper body and midsection, provided you do them correctly. By perfecting your technique, you can actually target different muscle groups, including not only your chest muscles but also your abs. The push up program’s purpose is to increase the maximum number of push ups you can do in a single set.
Proper Push-Up Form
- Slow down your movement, and use a three-second contraction. Try to really feel the muscle groups you’re targeting.
- Do a full range of motion. Lower your body all the way down, allowing your sternum to gently touch the floor, and push all the way up. Your arms should be straight, without locking your elbows.
- Pay attention to the alignment of your elbows. The ideal angle from your sides is about 45 degrees. This allows you to effectively work your chest muscles and prevent injuries from overextension.
- Keep your body stiff and straight as a plank, including your head. Pay careful attention and make sure you don’t drop your head forward; it needs to be in line with your back.
- Breathe in on the way down; breathe out on the way up, through your nose, not your mouth.
How to Get More Out of Your Push-Up
Press your palms firmly into the floor
Make sure your palms are flat on the floor, and focus on pushing from your wrists, not your fingers. Also externally rotate your arms so your elbow and shoulder joints are in a natural and comfortable position allowing for full range of motion.
Squeeze your lats
This will help stabilize your upper body. By pressing your palms firmly into the floor you can start to activate them. Then, in addition, think of squeezing your armpits as tightly as possible, like you are holding something in between them.
Draw your shoulder blades down and back
This will engage your back muscles, ease strain on your neck, and target the correct muscles you’re trying to tone, i.e. your core, arms, and shoulders.
Keep your neck and spine aligned
Avoid tilting your head too far up or down, as this increases the pressure on your spine. Instead of tucking your chin completely or looking straight out in front, gaze about six inches or so in front of your fingertips and keep your eyes focused there as you push up.
Engage your core
While your abdominal muscles are relatively small in comparison to other skeletal muscles, the core section of your body, as a whole, is quite large. The core region of your body consists of your entire trunk; everything from your pectoralis (chest muscles), back, and obliques, all the way down to your glutes. Activating your entire core relieves stress on your lower back and stabilizes your hips, which helps you maintain your body in a firm, straight line as you raise and lower your body.
Remember to breathe correctly
Your breath is part of proper form, and helps power your movement. So remember to inhale as you lower your body to the ground, and exhale as you raise up.
For best results you are going to do 3 different push up exercises and you will work out only 3 times a week.
Start with a regular push up
The goal is to do 3 sets of 12-15 reps. If it’s hard for you, then you can start by doing lower number of push ups. (8,9,10 for example). Go all the way to the ground and then explode all the way back up. Rest only 30 seconds between sets.
2nd exercise is the close hand push up
The goal here is to do 3 sets of 10 reps. Just like in the first exercise your rest periods between sets should be 30 seconds. Again, all the way to the ground and all the way up with explosive movement.
3rd exercise is elevated push ups
This exercise will be harder than the previous two, so the goal is to do 3 sets of 8 reps. You may also need more than 30 seconds of rest between sets so use 45 to 60 seconds of rest on this exercise. Go all the way to the ground and then explode all the way back up.
Remember, warm up well before starting the workout and stretch after the workout. Try to add 1-2 repetitions every workout, or 3-6 repetitions every week. In about 10-15 weeks of regular workouts you should be able to do 100 push ups in a single set.