Push-ups can be very challenging if you are not already in good shape. The simple push-up requires no equipment, yet challenges your chest, arms, shoulders, and core muscles.
For all different reasons, many people can not do even one push-up in the beginning. The most common reason for this is excess body weight. It’s much harder to move around 250 pounds when compared to 150 pounds! However, upper body weakness, pain, or inflexibility are other reasons why that first push-up may seem impossible to you right now.
Fear not! Almost anyone can get their first few push-ups by following the progression shown in the video below. You will start off very easy, and slowly increase the difficulty of the exercises over several weeks, eventually being able to do the full push-up!
All it takes is the will to change, a good plan, and the discipline to stick to that plan! Here is the plan…you have to do the rest!
Here is my suggested plan to get that first push-up:
- Prioritize push-ups for an entire month.
- Do the push-up progressions first in your workout sessions, when you are fresh and feel the strongest.
- Make sure to stretch and warm-up the shoulder, chest, and arm muscles before each session. I show a bunch of warmup moves in the free Q15 program.
- Start with whatever progression you can do with good form. Never sacrifice good form to get more reps, or to do something that your body is not ready for!
- Work on push-ups at least twice per week, but preferably three times per week. Aim to do 5 working sets of the most difficult exercise in the progression that you can handle.
- Once you can do sets of 8 reps, it’s time to work your way up the ladder to the next-most difficult exercise in the progression. Start by doing 1-2 reps of the next exercise and work on that until you can do 8-10 reps, then repeat the cycle with the next exercise.
For example, if you can currently do sets of 8 push-ups on your kitchen counter, try starting your next exercise session with doing 1-2 reps of push-ups on a lower surface like a chair. After those 1-2 reps, go back to the counter and complete another 6-7 reps to make a total of 8 reps. Repeat this for all 5 sets. The week after, try to get 3-4 reps of chair push-ups, finishing each set with counter push-ups. Repeat this cycle until you can do 5 sets of 8 push-ups on the chair. Then work your way through the next progression the same way.
Within a month or so, most people can get their first solid push-up under their belt. Consistency and slow progression will get you there if you do the work!