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Stop Doing Worthless Pushups!

Hello, and welcome to my blog, where I will share my thoughts and feelings on exercise, fitness & athletics, and strength and conditioning. A disclaimer that I am learning and practicing how to communicate my ideas eloquently in this medium, please bear with my growing pains and I hope you enjoy!

Writing this at the time of a global quarantine during the closure of gyms, the push-up has made a comeback surpassing the bench press as the most popular upper body exercise. Instagram had a See 10, Do 10, Tag 10 challenge some time back, if that was its name, and that was the catalyst to this post of mine. Here's my problem with pushups.

In over 10 years around the gym and fitness, I can categorize most individuals into two categories. First, individuals who believe the pushup is too difficult for them to ever complete. Secondly, and more commonly, are people who believe they are too strong for the pushup to give any sort of worthwhile stimulus. For everyone, I think that we need to be intentful of our pushups. Why are we doing them, and are we being thoughtful of how to perform them to maximize their benefits?

1. Pushups Are too Easy!

If this is you,go ahead and complete a maximum set of pushups right now. Maintain these key points of performance (or see the video above for reference).

#1 Fingers spread, flat hand and pressure through the 2nd knuckle.

#2 Stack your elbows wrists and shoulders vertically.

#3 Maintain a straight body line from top of head to ankle or top of head to knee (for knee pushups).

#4 Full range of motion; nose to floor at bottom, elbows locked at top.

#5 Tempo: 2 seconds down, power on the way up

How many reps did you get; was it less than you would expect? We tend to cut out quality and range of motion from the pushup, limiting the stimulus towards adaptation we can attain from it. I guarantee that by keeping full range of motion with great joint stacking, we are maximizing the benefit and GAINS from the movement.

Still too easy? Go ahead and try the archer pushup, single armed pushup, handstand pushup etc. while maintaining these qualities. Find a variation where 4-5 sets of 8-15 brings you to failure at the end, and let the gains begin....

2. Pushups Are Impossible!

Modification and regression, followed by progressive overload. If I've coached 70 year olds to their first set of 10 pushups, and you can do it too! Some very general tips to try:

1. Knee pushup: Make sure you maintain that straight body line, still try to get the chest to floor!

2. Shorten the range: Put a block under the chest so that you shorten the movement to a manageable range. Make the block thinner over time as you get stronger...

3. Eccentrics: ONLY performing the descending part of the pushup, go as slow as you can (5-10 seconds)!

Start with 3 sets of 8-12 every other day, make sure you take the last set to failure with great technique! Make things harder every week in some way, either by adding reps, sets, or going through a longer range of motion. If you're struggling with motivation or still feel hopeless with these, here's my self plug. I can get you there, so go ahead and send me a email at

The Bottom Line

Pushups are great y'all. They're a great exercise that's great whether you want to look good or perform well. Even if those are not your goals, you can bet at some point in time, perhaps a odd party game, or a dare, that you will need to call upon your ability to do some pushups. When that task is placed upon you, be ready to do them beautifully and properly.

If you need a hand with programming or want to assess your technique, reach out! We're all going to be here at home for abit, let's get yourself strong.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay well.


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