Though push-ups primarily strengthen muscles in your upper body, they are a compound exercise that utilizes total-body strength. They require no equipment and can be performed almost anywhere. The universality of push-ups makes them a widely used part of many physical fitness tests and programs. Whether you want to improve your push-up performance for a fitness test, overall strength or gym bragging rights, by being mindful of your form and approach, you should be able to execute more impressive and productive push-ups in just a few weeks.
Use Proper Form
Whether you are a beginner doing modified push-ups on your knees or a veteran strength trainer capable of one-arm push-ups, you must use proper form to reap the benefits of performing and improving your push-ups. Ask a personal trainer or training partner to watch your form as you do a set of push-ups. Make sure your body is moving as a unified unit and you are using the intended and appropriate muscles to initiate your movement. Bend your elbows to lower your chest close to the ground and use your upper-body strength to straighten your arms. Keep your neck in line with your spine and your hands about shoulder-width apart.
Increase Your Resistance
Increasing your resistance will help you improve your push-ups. If you typically do push-ups on your knees, try a set on your toes. If you typically perform push-ups on your toes, elevate your feet by placing your toes on a step or platform. Increased resistance overloads your muscles allowing your muscle fibers to grow bigger and stronger. Proper resistance causes your muscles to fatigue after only 12 to 15 repetitions.
To improve your push-ups, practice push-ups three to five times each week. Do three sets of muscle-fatiguing push-ups when you get up in the morning or three sets before you go to bed each night. Choose three particular days to consistently practice your push-ups and, as you improve, increase your frequency to stay challenged.
Vary Your Workout
While you want to consistently practice push-ups, you also want to vary your workouts. Doing push-ups exclusively can lead to muscular imbalance. To avoid this, incorporate additional strength-building exercises like bench presses and triceps dips into your training routine. Because strong push-ups depend on triceps and chest strength, it is important to train these muscle groups in isolation as well as train them during push-up practice.
Your muscles require rest to recover and grow stronger. Rest for a full day between days of intense push-up practice. During these days, do cardiovascular exercise or strength training that primarily targets the lower body. By resting between days of consistently practicing push-ups with proper form, increased resistance and strength-building additions, you should be doing better push-ups faster than you can say, "Drop and give me 20."