How to Get Strength to Do Pushups

Even if you're not athletically inclined, maintaining your upper body strength is imperative. If you can't do a push-up, you may be unable to pull open heavy doors or lift up your luggage. Most importantly, you may be unable to properly break your fall if you lose your balance, says James Ashton-Miller in "The New York Times" article, "The Simple Push-Up." Whether you're recovering from a serious illness or you've never had enough body strength to do a push-up, you can incorporate strengthening techniques into your workout that help you do push-ups in no time.

Strengthen your upper body to help you do a push-up. (Image: Gabriel Moisa/Hemera/Getty Images)

Step 1

Start your workout with a modified push-up if you are unable to do a complete push-up, recommends "Real Simple" in the article "Modified Push-Ups." Place a yoga mat or towel on the floor, then get down on all fours on top of it. Walk your hands forward so you are balancing your weight on your knees and your hands. Lift your feet off the ground and cross your ankles. Your body should make a diagonal line from your knees to your shoulders. Bend your elbows to lower your chest about 3 inches from the ground, then straighten your elbows to raise yourself back up.

Step 2

Do bench presses to imitate the movement of a push-up and increase your upper body strength. Use the bench press machine at the gym every time you work out to strengthen your arms and upper body.

Step 3

Practice push-ups in reverse, recommends Kathleen Trotter in the article "Help: I Can't Even Do One Push-Up" in "The Globe and Mail." Get into a push-up position with your elbows straight. Lower yourself down to the ground for 10 counts, then bend your knees and get onto all fours rather than pushing yourself back up.

Step 4

Stand up and lean your hands against a counter top so your body is at a 45-degree angle. Bend your elbows to lower yourself toward the counter, then straighten your arms to raise your body again. When this exercise becomes easy, do push-ups with your arms on top of a stair or step.

Step 5

Lift weights, says Trotter. Instead of lifting light weights for about 15 reps, lift heavier weights so you can only lift them for about eight reps. This way, you will build your arm strength and improve the number of push-ups you can do.

Things You'll Need

  • Yoga mat

  • Weights


Wear comfortable clothing and shoes while doing push-ups and other exercises.


Consult a doctor before incorporating any new exercises into your workout routine, especially if you have health problems.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.