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Guide posted by Coachgold Adrian K in Ten push ups

Press up progression plan.

I have seen enough questions asked on Tribesports about press-ups, how to get better etc, that I have finally decided enough is enough and it is time for a guide to help you all out.

Firstly let me outline what consititutes as a proper press up. If you arent doing all of these things, the press up wouldnt count in the army and therefore your technique is not up to scratch.

  1. Hands just wider than shoulder width on the floor, at shoulder level. 
  2. Feet no further than 12 inches apart.
  3. Lower yourself down to the ground with arms at roughly a 45 degree angle or close to your sides, not out at your sides forming a "T shape" with your body.
  4. You need to go low enough that your entire torso moves below your elbows at the bottom.
  5. Pause, then go back up again to the top position.
  6. That is one rep.

Now if you it properly, you can see how press ups for repititions are actually quite a challenging exercise, despite people claiming they are easy whilst pumping out half reps. For the untrained individual (especially for those carrying around extra weight), it is unlikely that you will be able to reach 10 press ups with proper form, or maybe even one press up for that matter, so don't be surprised or disheartened when you learn that you can't do them.

So how do you get to the point where you can do your first press up? Well, here is a training plan for you.

Training plan #1 - for those with access to weights

Train in the bench press to develop enough strength in your chest and triceps until you can do press ups.

Learn the movement: 1. Lie flat on your back, feet on the floor, weights starting by the nipples and arms at 45 degrees, 2. Press the weights upwards focusing on the contraction in your chest and tricep muscles. 3. lower the weight back slowly back to the starting position.

Pick dumbells or a barbell that you can handle comfortably for 5 reps, over 4 sets without failing in any of the sets

  • Aim for 4 sets of 5 repititions to start with, all with the same weight. 
  • Keep training and adding reps until you are able to hit 8 reps on every set with the same weight.
  • When you can get to 8 reps in all 4 sets, start aiming for 10 reps in every set.
  • When you can hit ten, increase the weight and start again with 5 reps, 4 sets on the new weight and repeat the program.
  • Take 24 hours rest at least in between training sessions.
  • Every now and then test your stregnth by attempting a press up.

Training plan #1 - for those who want to train with bodyweight alone

For this training plan we will use 4 exercises with varying difficulty levels to get you strong enough to do press ups.

1. Press ups from knees, back bent.

2. Press ups from knees, back straight/planked

3. Chair dips, knees bent.

4. Chair dips, knees straight.

You will train up to 3 times a week to strengthen your muscles, taking at least 24 hours rest between sessions.

  1. Start off with push ups from the knees, with your back bent, these can feel quite easy as your legs take most of your bodyweight, so you will need to do them slow and controlled, and really try to focus on getting your chest and triceps engaged. Similarly supplement these with chair dips on bent legs.
  2. Look to do 3 sets, in the first set do as many as you can. Then take 60 seconds rest, then repeat for 2 more sets. Rest for 4 minutes or so and then do the same for chair dips.
  3. When you can do 30 in a row of each exercise, in every set, progress onto straigh leg press ups from the knees and straight leg chair dips. Follow the same routine as in point 2.
  4. When you can do 30 in a row of each each exercise over every set, you can start on proper press ups.

Responses (6)

This is a great guide Adrian! I can attest that when I was new to push ups, I trained using a plan that is almost identical to the one where you use your bodyweight alone and it worked! I can now do about 20-30 push ups in one set. Hard work always pays off and I love when you can use a more difficult exercise (such as push ups) to be your shorter term goal! It keeps you focused! 

Nadege C responded Comment

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Thanks for posting this Adrian! I appreciate the advice and training guide. I am going to start using this! 

Cheryl B responded Comment

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I love the fact that this guide was created in response to questions from fellow Tribesporters!  This is one of the reasons that I really enjoy this website!

Jen F responded Comment

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This is awesome - thanks Adrian! No time like the present...off I go! 

Jennifer P responded Comment

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thats great thanks ! gonna have a go :) 

any tips for explosive burny shoulder pain  whilst doing them :?  

Melanie W responded Comment

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“ Great info Adrian! "

Jeconiah M responded Comment

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