Pushups are an excellent upper body exercise and core strengtheners but can be challenging to master. To increase strength, increase the intensity of each pushup movement.
One method for doing this is progressive overload. Begin by identifying your baseline pushup count, which allows your form to remain intact without faltering, then gradually increase it as needed.
- Keep Your Back Straight
Performing pushups using proper form is one of the key ways to ensure they’re practical, as it reduces the chance that arching your back or dropping your hips occurs during a pushup and strengthens both core muscles and shoulders. Engaging abdominal muscles and squeezing glutes to ensure a straight back without arching will keep them from sagging or arching during pushups; additionally, looking ahead a few feet will protect your neck from strain injuries.
While many struggle to perform full pushups, it’s essential not to give up. Minor modifications to the movement can increase your rep count and build strength over time.
One way to make pushups more challenging is to place your hands closer together than shoulder-width apart, increasing intensity while targeting different muscles. You could also try triangle pushups – where needles are placed close enough that their shapes form triangles – or dodo double triangle pushups, where hands are close together in a triangle formation.
Perform pushups on an elevated surface like a bench or chair to increase their difficulty and maintain good form without arching your back. However, if this is consistently occurring, it could indicate weakness in your core, and it would likely be beneficial to work on strengthening it before returning to traditional pushups.
- Strengthen Your Core
Pushups may seem like another chest exercise, but they also target and strengthen core muscles. Your core keeps your hips from hiking up and sinking during a pushup; its muscles include the rectus abdominus (“six-pack”), transverse abdominous, and oblique deep abdominal muscles. With solid core strength, it would be easier to maintain proper form when performing pushups, leading to reduced power as you lower yourself into them and then push yourself back up again.
One way to strengthen your core is with weighted pushups. This can be accomplished by balancing objects on your back during a standard pushup (weight plates positioned near your upper/mid back work well), chains, bands, or any other object that safely balances on it; the key thing here is making sure that whatever weight is chosen will challenge without forcing you out of a solid push-up position.
Weighted pushups can help you eliminate mistakes that sabotage your performance, such as allowing your back to sag or flaring out elbows to create more of an arrow shape with arms and torso, which will waste energy and can strain certain shoulder joints. Another mistake can be arching like a cat, which puts undue strain on the back. A weighted pushup can help eliminate these errors and advance towards more advanced push-up variations.
- Keep Your Knees on the Ground
When pushups become too easy, it may be tempting to switch to on-your-knee variations; however, this could make them more challenging. According to Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel C.S.C.S and co-author of “Getting Started in Strength Training,” using your knees isn’t recommended as it shifts your center of gravity too significantly and makes keeping up your chest harder – also bad news if you suffer from high blood pressure as it puts your head angled below your heart!
Instead, try elevating your hands. Smith suggests using a bench or box for this purpose, placing risers beneath a step to adjust its height, or choosing a box with various sides (most feature 30-inch, 24-inch, and 20-inch sides) and starting your pushups on one before switching to another until you feel ready.
Use a hard mat or soft yoga block and place your hands so they are closer to your torso than further apart to distribute the weight of your body evenly and not put too much strain on one arm, which could result in wrist pain.
- Slow Down
Pushups can add variety and build upper body strength in your bodyweight routine. But, if they become routine and too easy for you, it’s time to regress your movement and challenge yourself – doing this will prevent muscle imbalances and maintain strength gains over time.
One standard error people make when performing pushups is performing them too quickly, which puts unnecessary strain on the shoulders and can increase the risk of shoulder impingement. To avoid this, take your time during each rep and focus on controlling both descent and pushup with elbows close in rather than flaring outward.
If you’re still having difficulty, adding handstand pushup progression may help. This unilateral movement will strengthen both sides of your body while providing a tremendous test for core and upper body strength. But this pushup version requires more balance; therefore, beginners should avoid it.
To add another level of difficulty to your exercise, try doing pushups until muscle failure. Each week after that, double that number. This approach provides more structure than simply increasing the number of pushups each workout and will create more steady rates of progress over time.
In conclusion, making pushups easier involves incorporating strategic modifications and progressive adjustments to build strength and improve form. Individuals can gradually enhance their upper body and core strength while minimizing strain by starting with modified variations, such as incline or knee pushups. Consistent practice, proper technique, and a focus on strengthening supporting muscle groups can contribute to increased pushup proficiency over time.
Utilizing fitness tools, like resistance bands or stability balls, can further assist in reducing the difficulty of pushups while maintaining effectiveness. It is essential to listen to one’s body, progress comfortably, and gradually increase the challenge as strength improves.
Remember that the journey to mastering pushups, like any fitness endeavor, requires patience and dedication. Incorporating a well-rounded exercise routine with various strength-training exercises, cardiovascular activities, and flexibility training can contribute to overall fitness and make pushups more achievable. As with any exercise program, consulting with a healthcare professional or fitness expert is advisable, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or concerns.