To do it, assume a pushup position with your hands holding dumbbells directly below your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Maintaining this body line, bend one elbow to row one weight up next to your rib cage. Return it to the floor, and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Start with 12 to 15 reps and work up to longer sets.
Elevated Pushups: Basic, Single Leg, Spiderman
Time to level up? :)
When I first started doing full pushups, it was awesome, but after awhile I wasn’t progressing/getting better at them. I still had a hard time doing more than 20-25 in a row, and I stayed there for a long time.
Once you mastered a move for the first time, you have a few options to get better at it: do more (high volume, like our pushup challenges), do harder modifications, add resistance/weight or plyometrics and be consistent about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Elevating my pushups was much harder ( I could do dozens and dozens from the floor, but less than 10 elevated), but within a few workouts, I was already feeling stronger. My burpees got better, my plank time improved, and yes, pushups from the floor felt like recovery.
START SLOW: If you’re used to doing a certain number of reps from the floor, know that your reps will be slightly less. That’s okay! Add in short intervals until you get stronger. If you’re still struggling with pushups from the feet, this may be too advanced.
1. Make sure your hands are lined up with your shoulders and take your hands wide. Your eye line should fall in front of your hands (when you look down). You should be able to see a few feet in front of you without straining your neck.
2. Keep your hips lifted (don’t sag) and engage your core and legs (quads). Keep hips facing the floor at all times (especially for single leg or spiderman modifications).
3. Place chair on a secure surface like a mat or against a wall. The first few times, take a peeksie to make sure your feet are in the middle of the chair seat.
4. Push the floor away from you instead of lifting from it.
Beginners: Flip these around to make them easier! Place your hands on the seat of the chair and feet on the ground. The higher the surface, the easier it is. (Easiest: against a wall on an incline).
Give these a try this week in a few of your workouts!
More options here: Working Your Way to Perfect Pushups…
- Start in second position, with your legs opened wide to the sides and your toes turned slightly outward. Placing your hands on your hips, bend your knees, going as low as you can. Make sure your shoulders remain directly over your hips and your back stays in a straight vertical line. Use the mirror to monitor your posture, and do make sure to keep your heels directly below your knees to avoid harming the joint.
- While holding second position, in a pulsing fashion, lower and raise your hips one inch for 10-15 reps.
- Stay at your lowest point, reverse the emphasis of the pulse, and begin to lift your hips up one inch in a very tiny range of motion for 10-15 reps.
- Now, extend arms in front of you (as shown) and hold for 20 counts at your lowest point.
May includes a special calendar for people participating in the Pull-Up Challenge to keep you from overtraining!
The directions are simple: find the current date on the calendar, see what workout(s) it asks for, and pick one from each section listed for that date.
For example, if today it says “Arms” and “General,” I’d find an arm workout and a general workout to do today. (The Endurance Calendar also has “stretch” as a category; I do not have any stretching routines, but simply take about ten minutes to stretch out and relax when stretching is called for, or try a yoga video online.)
If you’d like to write about your experiences during the month or see how others are doing, please use the tag “BoP: May”. By all using this tag, we can see what others are doing during the month and send others encouragement along the way. Let’s all support each other on our journeys! (If you’re not on Tumblr but still use these calendars, feel free to update us on the Back On Pointe Facebook Page or the Back On Pointe Fitocracy Group!)
During the month, remember that you should take as many rest days as you need, modify any workouts that you cannot do, stay hydrated, get more low-intensity cardio, and eat well.
p.s. Any of the calendars can be modified. If you are training for a half-marathon, feel free to count that as your cardio on cardio days. If you’re sore in the arms from helping a friend move, substitute a butt workout instead. It’s all about you!
- Lean Arms Workout v.1
- Lean Arms Workout v.2
- Tone Those Triceps!
- Weight-Free Arms
- Arms Workout
- All About Arms
- Dumbbells, Smart Arms
- Beginner Arms
- Load Your Guns
- Awesome Arms
- Press, Press, Press
- Inner Thigh Toner
- Tame Those Thighs
- Kill Those Legs!
- Your Best Butt
- Thigh Toner
- Dancer’s Legs Workout
- Legs Workout
- 5 Minute Butt Blaster
- Legs For Days
- Shapely Squats
- Beach Babe Booty
- Get Those Glutes
- Love Your Legs
- All-Over Abs
- 1-2-3 Ab Workout
- Quick Challenge
- I Seek Obliques
- Abs Challenge
- Intense Abs
- Waist Trimmer
- Ballet Abs
- Flat Abs Workout
- Lower Ab Attack
- Easy Abs
- Core Work for Beginners
- Waist Well-Wisher
- Jump-Free Workout
- Student Workouts
- Wake Up Warm Up
- Full Body Meltdown
- Absolute Beginner Workout
- Fat Blaster
- Quiet Workout
- Coffee Break Workout
- All-Over Workout
- Whole Body Workout
- Morning Angel Workout
- No Space? No Problem!
- Basic Dumbbell Workout
- Full Body Workout
- One-Song Workouts
- 50 Up, 50 Down
- Morning Workouts
- Leveled Workouts
- Count Up, Count Down
- Strength and Cardio
- Water Bottle Workout
- Workout Challenge for the Absolute Beginner
- Extreme Bodyweight Workout
- Throw Pillow Workout
- Dumbbell Destroyer
- Powerhouse Workout
- Weather Workout
- Quick Workout
- Digital Clock Workout
- Leveled Cardio
- One-Room Cardio
- All-Cardio Challenge
- Cardio Circuit
- Killer Kardio
- Beginner Cardio
- Kick-It Cardio!
- Basic Cardio
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Downward Dog Splits
Plant your hands at the front of your mat, ﬁngers wide, middle ﬁngers and wrists facing
Step back toward the back of your mat until heels are slightly off the ground and you
feel balanced in a V shape.
Keep hips squaring down and lift your right leg high.
Draw in your navel and ﬂex through your heels.
Take 5 breaths here or more, then step your right foot forward inside your right thumb.
Star JumpsStand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.Your arms should be slightly bent at your sides. Bend your knees to get into a squat position.Extend your legs and arms fully out to your sides at the same time in midair to form a star shape with your body. Bring your arms and legs into a tuck as you begin to descend from the jump.Land softly on the ground with your knees bent.
If regular push-ups are still too tough for you, don’t just drop to your knees!
Do pushups with hands elevated instead for the following benefits:
- The higher your hands are, the easier the push-ups. You can do more reps!
- You stay in the full push-up position instead of using your knees: This helps…
...getting your muscles accustomed to the movement of a full push-up
…strengthening your core, just like in a plank
…prevent knee injuries which can be caused by knee push-ups
Give these modifications a go! Work up from the hardest (Level 1) to the easiest (Level 4) and see which ones you can do! Once you’ve found a level where you can comfortably do 10 repetitions, you can use this in your daily workout to replace the knee push-ups.
Wanna boost your upper body strength and improve your push ups? Turn the above modifications into a great Maxout Pyramid Workout!
- Do as many regular push-ups on the ground as you possibly can
- Take a 1 minute break
- Move to Modification Level 1 and once again do as many reps as you can.
- Take another 1 minute break
- Now move to Level 2, max out to failure again, take a break, do level 3, and then proceed to level 4 after another break.
If your arms aren’t dead by now, you can take a 2 minute break and work your way down again in reverse order (from Level 4 to Level 1 and regular push ups).
Share your experiences and scores - or better yet, shoot a video of you doing the workout!
The Back On Pointe Pull-Up Challenge is almost here!
Want to strive towards doing a pull-up or chin-up? Here’s the challenge for you!
- The two calendars above are to be followed as closely as possible during May and June.
- Each workout category (One, Two, and Three) has 6 available workouts in it for you to choose from.
- Each Friday, try to do a pull-up/chin-up. Write down how many you can do or how much assistance you needed to do one. This will help you track your progress.
- If you’d like to be in a small group, which will meet up on Fitocracy (or other sites as you choose) or would like to be a small group leader (you must be able to do pull-ups to be a group leader), please send me a message with your Tumblr and Fitocracy usernames and I will assign you to groups.
- To keep other challengers updated with your progress, either use the tag BoP: Pull Up Challenge on Tumblr or talk to us in the Back On Pointe Fitocracy group.
- Workout One v.1
- Workout One v.2
- Workout One v.3
- Workout One v.4
- Workout One v.5
- Workout One v.6
- Workout Two v.1
- Workout Two v.2
- Workout Two v.3
- Workout Two v.4
- Workout Two v.5
- Workout Two v.6
- Workout Three v.1
- Workout Three v.2
- Workout Three v.3
- Workout Three v.4
- Workout Three v.5
- Workout Three v.6
- Chair Dips
- Bench Dips
- Bird Dogs
- Weighted Bird Dogs
- Dumbbell Rows
- Two-Arm Dumbbell Rows
- Dumbbell Shoulder Presses
- Dumbbell Chest Presses
Dumbbell Reverse Flyes
- Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
- Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
- Dumbbell Front Raises
- Bicep Curls
- Lat Pulldowns
- Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns
- Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns
- Inverted Rows
- Negative Pull-Ups
I can already hear the groans, but I’m telling you once and for all: the best exercise for anyone to learn & do is the push-up.
Regularly adding pushups to your workout won’t just strengthen your chest. It’s a total body exercise that will also shape your shoulders, triceps, legs, glutes and your entire core. Working all those muscles at once torches tons of calories and get your heart rate up.
The one thing I hear over and over from women is that they can’t do pushups. But the reason they can’t, is that they don’t or are afraid too. I get it: sucking at something sucks. But NO ONE starts out being amazing. You get better with practice & time. It took me years before I could do even just one pushup. And months before I could do 10 in a row. It took time and practice, and getting ‘cool’ with sucking at them. It’s okay if you can’t bust out pushups like a marine; you start where you are.
This post is designed to give you a basis on how to work up to perfect pushups and how to keep improving them no matter what your level.
Note: I don’t call them “girly” push-ups. I really, really wish everyone would stop calling them that as well. It makes it okay for women to stay there without challenging themselves and makes men who can’t do a basic push-up hesitant to try the modified version. For once and for all: they are modified push-ups. NOT “girly” pushups.
FORM FOR ALL PUSHUPS:
Hands should be shoulder width or wider than shoulder width apart. Your eye line should fall in front of your fingertips and you should be able to see a few feet in front of you without straining your neck.
Engage your upper back, shoulders, and arms to PUSH your body weight off the floor, then slowly lower it back down. Think about pushing the floor away from you instead of lifting from it, as though you were on your back lifting an object off you. Pause, then push back to the starting position. Keep your core braced the entire time.
You don’t need to do them fast: in fact slower requires more strength and control than power. Go your own pace: speed comes later on.
If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has been broken. When this happens, consider that your last repetition and end the set.
The following is a list of different kinds of pushups that you can try, in order from easiest to hardest. If you have issues with your joints, you may find some versions easier than others.
Challenge - Complete 2-3 sets of 12-15 pushups.
1. Find the form of push-up that you can complete 12-15 reps of, starting with the wall pushup and progressing down the list. If you cannot complete 12-15 wall pushups, that’s your goal before you move on. Complete as many as you can until form is broken, until you hit 12-15.
2. Try to add in 1-3 reps of the next hardest version at the beginning of each set. You can start with just one rep of the harder version if you need to. Each workout, try to add in 1-2 more reps of the more challenging version until you’re able to complete a full set.
For example; you might start with 3 modified push-ups, followed by 12 wall push-ups. Then add 1-2 modified push-ups per workout until you’re doing the whole set in that position. Once there, try adding 1-2 basic pushups followed by modified until you’re doing all basic etc… Work your way up in difficulty.
Remember: even the fittest of females may not be able to do a push-up. If you’re upper body strength is VERY weak, start by pushing off against a wall and that’s PERFECTLY FINE.
1. EASIEST: WALL PUSH-UPS
Stand facing a wall and extend your arms in front of you. Lean forward slightly and place your palms against the surface. Bend your elbows until your nose nearly touches the wall. Push back out to start. That’s one rep. Do two to three sets of 15.
Mastered it? Try pushing off the wall with a little force (explosive push-ups). Start in the push-up position, elbows bent & push off about 12 inches from the wall. Catch yourself before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position.
2. MODIFIED PUSHUP
A. Keep all the form of the basic pushup, but bend your knees at a 90 degree angle. Keep your feet together or crossed.
B. Make sure to keep your abs tight and your back straight.
Tip: Once you master 12-15 of these, come up on to your feet in between pushups (basic pushup position). Lower back on to your knees for the pushup part to complete the modified pushup.
3. BASIC PUSH-UPS
A. Get into plank position, with your hands under but slightly outside of your shoulders.
B. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
Tip: Use dumbbells like the ones shown if it hurts to put your hands on the floor.
4. INCLINE PUSHUP
Tip: This is great off a counter, bench or staircase too. The lower your surface, the harder the move will be.
5. STACKED FEET PUSHUP
Tip: You can also try to draw your knee in to your elbow, while lifting the leg off the floor, like a spiderman push-up.
6. DECLINE PUSHUP
Tip: No bench? Use your stairs or couch. Any elevated (and secure) surface will do.
Crazy Tip: Try putting your feet on a wall behind you. You can climb the wall as high as you like to (and yes, I’ve seen push-up handstands done this way).
7. FEET ON STABILITY BALL PUSHUP
Tip: This is a good alternative to the modified push-up, but it does require a bit more core strength to keep your balance. If your core is strong, but you need to strengthen your upper body, this is a move that you can transition to from the modified push-up. The closer the stability ball is to your chest, the easier the move will be. (and vice versa! Keep your toes on the ball for a harder workout).
8. STABILITY BALL PUSHUP (HARDEST)
Tip: Tighten your core on this one! You’ll need it for balance! Spread your fingers on the ball and squeeze the ball itself as you pushup.
Standing Reverse Fly
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping a slight bend in the knees. With straight arms, hold the exercise band in front of you with your hands slightly lower than your shoulders. Keep your elbows slightly soft to avoid hyperextending the joint.
- On an exhale, pull abs to spine to stabilize your torso as you open your arms out to the sides, focusing on the shoulder blades sliding together. Inhale as you slowly return your arms back to starting position.
- It’s easy to arch your spine and push your ribcage forward when opening your arms, so really focus on the abs keeping the spine stable. Do imagine yourself growing taller as you open your arms to reinforce good posture.
- Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.