Building strength in your upper body is a gradual process that can take months or years, but the efforts pay off in better muscle tone, improved posture and the ability to complete everyday tasks with more ease.
The traditional push-up is one of the best exercises you can do to get stronger arms, shoulders, chest, back and abs, but many people struggle to complete even one regular push-up. The trick is to start standing at a wall and build the strength to you need to eventually get horizontal.
1. Use Proper Form
Set yourself up for success. Stand an arm's distance from a sturdy wall free from obstacles, such as pictures and switches. Please your palms flat on the wall about shoulder-distance apart and at shoulder height.
Start out with your feet under your hips. Bend your elbows, and bring your chest toward the wall. Keep your elbows pointing down, rather than flared out. Press back out to the starting position.
2. Activate Your Core Muscles
The key to a perfect push-up is keeping your core muscles — your abs, obliques and lower back — contracted. This prevents your hips from sagging, which will become especially important in a horizontal push up, protecting your lower back from injury.
Doing this makes it easier to maintain ideal push up posture — plank position, with your shoulders, hips and heels in alignment.
Read more: Push-Ups vs. Knee Push-Ups
3. Control Your Breathing
As you increase your reps and your muscles become fatigued, controlled breathing will help bring oxygen to your muscles and increase your stamina. The proper way to breathe when doing a wall or regular push-up is to inhale as you bend your elbows and exhale as you straighten them.
4. Increase the Challenge
Once you can do three sets of 15 wall push-ups with your feet aligned under your shoulders, it's time to up the ante. Making a wall push-up harder is as easy as walking your feet farther away from the wall.
The farther your feet are from the wall, the more horizontal your body is. Stop when you are no longer able to keep your heels on the floor.
5. Do Them Regularly
To build strength, you have to exert force on your muscles regularly. That's what causes them to adapt and grow stronger. Do three or four sets of 15 wall push-ups at least twice a week, but not on consecutive days.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of Push-Ups?