Tricks for Doing More Pushups

Young man performing press-ups
Pushups (Image: Adam Gault/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

From high school gymnasiums to military boot camps, pushups have become a standard measure of fitness. One of the best ways to increase the number of pushups you can do is to regularly practice performing pushups, but there are a few other tips and tricks to increase your count. Learning and practicing proper technique while building up the supporting muscles will improve your strength to help you do more pushups.

Improve Body Positioning

Proper body positioning improves your stability during the exercise, allowing you to perform more pushups than with poor stability. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders with your fingers spread wide and pointing slightly inward. Placing your hands in front of or behind your shoulders will weaken your performance. Keep your head, back and legs aligned, and contract your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise. As you push your torso up, push through the outside edge and heel of your palms for greater force, and imagine pushing the floor away from you.

Move Quickly

When performing a set of pushups, move quickly. Gravity is affecting your muscles throughout the exercise, so the longer you take, the more strain you're putting on your body per repetition, explains Stew Smith, military trainer and former Navy SEAL. Always go as fast as you can without sacrificing proper form. Having a friend or trainer time you regularly will not only help you keep track of your pacing, but will alleviate any anxiety you may feel about being timed during a fitness test.

Strengthen Supporting Muscles

Your pushup is only as strong as the weakest muscle, so strength training the muscles involved in the exercise independently will help you do more pushups. Try chest presses or dumbbell flies to work your pectoral muscles, military presses or lateral raises to work your shoulders, and triceps dips or pulldowns to target your triceps muscles. Always give your arms a full day to rest between workouts, including pushup workouts.

Practice Pushup Variations

In addition to strength training the pushup muscles with other exercises, try variations on the pushup that place greater emphasis on certain muscle groups. To strengthen the chest muscles, place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, making sure to keep them aligned with your shoulders. To focus on the triceps, bring your hands in closer together and keep your elbows tucked in to your body as you exercise. Triceps pushups put less stress on your shoulders as well.

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