Pushups are a compound move that uses your body weight as resistance to strengthen your shoulders, back, chest, arms and core. Once you have mastered proper pushup form, increasing the number of reps per set requires cross training with resistance exercises, and also performing alternative variations of pushups.
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Isolating each muscle group utilized during pushups and targeting them with resistance moves can help improve pushup strength. Perform bench presses to strengthen your chest, rows for your back, shoulder presses for the shoulders and rotating planks for your arms and core. Include a variety of resistance methods, such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, cable pulleys and resistance bands. Aim to fatigue after eight to 12 repetitions in each set. Complete three or four sets of each exercise.
Changing your hand or foot position during pushups can help to maximize muscle development. Slightly widening your hands or feet can work the muscles from an alternative angle. Elevating your feet by placing them on a bench or lifting one foot off of the floor can pose a greater challenge for your core and shoulders. Drop your knees to the floor to squeeze out two to three more reps after fatiguing in the traditional stance.
Include pushups in your training program two to three days per week. Consult with your physician before starting a new training program.