The push-up is one of the most awesome exercises for your upper body and your physique in general. Many women struggle with them, and even if they can eventually build up to doing a few on their toes, the form is messy at best.
This is one of those exercises that the ladies tend to shy away from because well, we want to be good at everything, and if we’re not good at it or someone might be watching as we fall on our face, we’re better off just skipping it.
I have many clients who come into my gym who can’t do a quality push-up. Their butts are in the air, their elbows fly out to their sides in the “chicken wing” fashion and they just can’t seem to get very low. It’s frustrating; I get it.
In just a matter of weeks, I can tweak the form, build up their strength and have these very same ladies performing multiple repetitions of push-ups from their toes and eventually even adding weight to the exercise for added difficulty.
How do you get good at push-ups? I mean really, really good? Here we go.
1. Keep the tension. Most women perform the push-up without enough tension. The biggest mistake I see is that they let their bodies relax as they lower to the floor, making it much more difficult to power up and keep the elbows in tight. How do we remedy this? Think about keeping the same amount of tension on the way down as you do on the way up. Squeeze every muscle in your body as you lower and as you rise up out of the push-up.
2. Squeeze the shoulder blades. The upper back is a key component in the push-up movement. Once you get the tension technique, this part becomes much easier. As you come up from the floor, squeeze your shoulder blades together aggressively and this will give you more strength and help keep the elbows in.
3. Mix up the repetitions. There are many different opinions on how to build up push-ups. Some people say hit a certain number of kneeling push-ups before you go to the toes and others rely on starting from the toes and increasing the range of motion as the client gets stronger. I have my ladies mix it up. If we are doing sets of 10, I’ll have them perform 5 on the toes and then drop and hit 5 from the knees. This increases their core stability and overall strength when they train from the toes, and then being able to get low and deep from the knees will improve their confidence. Just make sure when you drop to the knees you’re keeping those pesky elbows in.
4. Train with frequency. If you want to get good at push-ups, you must do push-ups. Train in some push-up variety 3 days each week. Make sure you’re never going to failure on the exercise, as you want to stay strong and keep your confidence up. Build your repetitions by 1-3 every week.
5. Strength train. In order to get better at push-ups, you have to be strong. Don’t throw these into some silly little circuit of ab crunches and treadmill jogging. Make sure you’re in a solid and progressive strength-training program including squats, lunges, kettlebell work, pressing movements and pulling movements. Train your core with plank variations and anti-rotation exercises. Push-ups require overall strength so hit those weights, ladies.
The push-up is one of the best movements for training the upper body and core. Training in this fashion will develop lean muscle and help you to not only rock at push-ups but have a rockin’ body in general.