Push-ups are a great strengthening move that work the muscles in our chest, biceps and core.
Today I’m going to show you exactly how to progress your strength with this move so you can do them safely and effectively.
With proper form and practice, you will increase your muscle strength without injury or pain, and build yourself progressively up in your abilities by using these variations.
Since push ups are a front body “push” movement, it’s important to balance your training with back body “pulling” movements to help stabilize the rotator cuff and build balance in the body.
I’ll share some great tips for this in today’s video, as well as some stretches to help you keep your chest nice and open (great for long days at your desk as well!).
Let’s get started!
Looking for some form tips and support for training your body for maximum results and minimum setbacks?
Check out my free Foundations of Functional Fitness series. Take a different 15-minute class each day for 2 weeks in this helpful tutorial series that will take you through upgrading your form on moves like squats, lunges, pushing and pulling moves, and so much more! Designed to be done alongside any workout program you’re already doing.
Push-Up Progression Sequence
It is important to maintain correct form during each push-up progression. Place your hands flat against the surface directly under your shoulders and extend your legs out behind you. Perform a push-up by lowering yourself to meet the surface, back flat, core engaged, and eyes focused about 6 inches in front of you. Push back up. Keep your core engaged the whole time and your neck in neutral alignment.
- Standing Wall or Door Push-Up
- Single Leg Standing Wall Push-Up
- High Seat/High Bar Stool Push-Up
- Single Leg High Bar Stool Push-Up
- Kneeling Elevated Push-Up
- Extended Leg Kneeling Elevated Push-Up
- Full Plank Elevated Push-Up
- Floor Kneeling Push-Ups
- Extended Leg Kneeling Floor Push-Ups
- Full Plank Floor Push-Ups
- Extended Leg Full Plank Push-Ups
- Decline Push-Up
- Extended Leg Decline Push-Ups
Different variations of push-ups:
- Wide Arm Push-Up
- Single Arm Push-Up
- Pike Push-UP
Practice your push-ups, but don’t overdo it! Strengthening your chest muscles is important to building a balanced physique but we also want to train our opposing muscles as well – the muscles that do the opposite to pushing, which is pulling.
Pushing movements activate the front body, or medial rotation muscles. These muscles also get worked with many of the movements we do on a day to day basis. Since we see in front of ourselves and do so many activities with our hands (driving, holding our phones, working at a computer), it’s natural that we work these muscles frequently.
Overuse of these muscles without proper training for their antagonists (muscles that do the opposite motions) can lead to pain in our upper back, wrists, and neck and set us up for injury.
In order to prevent these common issues, it’s useful to do movements and exercises that work those pulling muscles and lateral rotators, and the muscles in your posterior chain. Strengthening your back and shoulders will help pull your shoulders back into correct alignment and counter-balance your day to day activity.
Stretching is also a great way to bring balance to your body. Overly tight and weak chest muscles can lead to back pain and neck pain so it’s important to not only strengthen your chest muscles, but also stretch them.
I hope you found this information helpful – if you have any questions, be sure to ask!
Leave me a comment below to let me know how this push-up progression went for you today – I love hearing from you!
Great job on today’s workout! Now let’s get you a workout PLAN so you can keep progressing and get support along the way!
Rock Your Life has access to dozens of home workout challenges, a huge class library with hundreds of workouts of all types so you can choose from a huge variety of one-off workouts if you’re not following a plan, and has a private women’s fitness support community to make sure you always have the resources you need!