Ask Alfonso: How Do I Perform Better Pushups?
I was just reading your article Top 10: Ways To Gauge Your Fitness. I found it very interesting, however, I am absolutely terrible at pushups.
I am always wondering what’s the best way to build up strength to complete a gorgeous pushup with perfect form? Are there certain weighted exercises I could perform? Is it better to work from a modified position with increased range of motion or work from my toes with decreased range of motion?
Clearly, I’m confused.
Your insight would be appreciated.
Perplexed by Pushups / Jennifer
Thanks so much for this question. I get asked it a lot, in fact just this morning! In general, women have a more difficult time with pushups than any other exercise. Here’s why –
The fact is that biologically most women are genetically built to be more muscular in their lower body and as a consequence, pushups are tough. Men on the other hand are generally thin legged with narrower hips and better upper body strength. This is just evolution at play here as men needed to hunt and perform more laborious tasks that required upper body strength while women bore children and were more nurturing. Now to be clear, I’m NOT saying that women don’t work hard are or weak – they’re just built differently!
What’s interesting to me is that in my years as a trainer I’ve come across some women who just bang out pushups no problem, while others really struggle. But you can always improve and I’m sure you can get yourself to perform many ‘gorgeous’ pushups with the right plan. The key is understanding what you need to do and following the right course. That’s where I come in!
So here’s what you need to do – get stronger! I know, you knew that right? The best way for you to get down to the floor and perform traditional pushups is by starting up higher. In other words, try pushups from a bench or adjust a bar on a Smith Machine or power rack to an elevated height. Choose a height that allows you to get between 6–10 reps with perfect form. And when I say 6–10, I mean that at 6 or 10 you’re done and can’t get another rep. I’d start this first thing in your workout before you get tired from other exercises. After 3 work sets, I’d then suggest you try some pressing exercises like dumbbell or barbell bench presses. Again I’d shoot for the same rep range, using perfect form and perform 3 sets. After you’ve performed this workout 3 or 4 times, lower the bar down about 2–3 inches and go through the same routine for the next few workouts. Then lower the bar again and again till you reach the floor.
In essence what you’re trying to do is called “planned progression”. Over the course of 2 months you’ll be challenging your body more and more each time you lower the bar. By performing the presses afterwards, you’ll be tapping into additional muscle fibers and using a range of motion that’s similar to a pushup. The only time I like to use pushups while on my knees (which is how I see a lot of women performing them) is AFTER you’ve performed a few on your feet. The problem with training always on your knees is that the transition in weight from knees to feet is too great, and many times the easier version doesn’t help much with getting to the traditional style. That’s why many times you’ll see people who use knee pushups constantly and never make the transition.
Now another HUGE facet to pushup performance is body positioning. Check out my How To Perform A Pushup video to see what I mean. You need to have a really tight plank, so your abs and core are engaged, your legs are tight, glutes are locked and on the way down to the floor you take a big breath that you blow out as you push up. Additionally, you need to make sure your hands are in the best possible position to give you the best leverage. Don’t worry, I go through all of this in the video.
I think it’s great that you’ll have a goal now and something to work towards. I’d keep your routine the same and just add in what I’ve suggested twice per week before your regular workouts. I know if you follow the plan you’ll be wrirting me back in 2 months to tell me you’re now a pushup pro!
One more thing – be sure that for every set of pushing exercises you do that you also work your postural muscles. So perform a few set of rear shoulder flyes, T-Squares or resistance band Y,T,W’s. We want to be sure we keep your posture in check!
Good luck – and if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Alfonso on March 21, 2012 at 10:28 am, and is filed under ASK ALFONSO. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
about 6 months ago - 3 comments
Hi Alfonso, How do you build up to doing pushups on the toes from the knees? It kind of feels impossible for me but I don’t want to give up. Is there any particular technique that can aid in this transition? Also, what is the muscle recruitment for a pushup? Does it require more use…
about 8 months ago - 3 comments
Hey there – it’s Top 10 time again! We figured it was time to bring back one of our most popular strands here at Angry Trainer Fitness and to kick us off we have a very special top 10. Yep, today I’m sharing my favorite Angry Trainer Fitness Workouts that are on my YouTube…
about 9 months ago - 4 comments
I’ve been watching a fair amount of TV lately. As you may know I’m getting ready to hit the amateur bodybuilding stage once again in just over 3 weeks and while performing one of my many cardio sessions, I caught the infomercial for a new fitness gadget called the Push Up Pump on the airwaves.…