How to Do Push ups if You Can’t Now

Five Parts:Doing Kneeling Push UpsDoing a Kneeling PlankMastering a Full PlankStarting Incline Push upsPerforming Full Push ups

Although seen as an upper body exercise, push-ups are a bodyweight workout for the entire body. You must develop muscles in your back, stomach, chest and arms if you want do them properly. If you have trouble doing push-ups now, you can follow this training schedule using planks and incline push-ups until you can do a set of push-ups.

Part 1
Doing Kneeling Push Ups

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    Get on all fours on your exercise mat. Lift your legs as if you were doing a kneeling plank.
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    Shift your body forward until you are in kneeling plank position.
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    Bend your elbows slowly and lower your chest. Make sure your neck is straight and not bent downward. Your chest should lead the push up, rather than you chin.
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    Lower yourself until you are almost to the ground. If you can’t reach this level, lower yourself as far as you can.
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    Pause for 5 seconds. Push up until your arms are straight. The act of pausing during the push up will help you train to lift more of your body weight.
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    Do 10 kneeling push-ups with pauses in between. For faster results, do a 60-second full plank after you finish your set.
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    Repeat these kneeling push-ups every day for a week. Once you start building up your chest and upper body muscles, you can get faster results by doing push ups every day. [1]

Part 2
Doing a Kneeling Plank

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    Set up an exercise area in your home or at the gym. You should have a long exercise mat with treads to keep you steady.
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    Make adjustments for injured knees and wrists. If you have weak wrists, set two 5 lb. (2.2 kg) weights with flat edges (hex weight) at shoulder distance at the top of your mat. If you have problems with your knees, layer a second exercise mat over the bottom of your mat.
    • You will grasp the weights with your hands so that there is less compression in your wrists.
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    Learn the kneeling plank position. Get on all fours on your exercise mat. Lift and cross your ankles.
    • As you lift your ankles and pull them toward your buttocks, you will put more weight into your arms.
    • Shift your body forward, making the area between your shoulders and butt a straight line.
    • Don’t let your shoulders sink into their sockets. Try to raise your chest and flex your core further to avoid this.
    • Try to make your neck an extension of your plank, looking just slightly above the end of your exercise mat.
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    Adjust your position. If you have very little core strength or upper body strength, your plank will be slightly piked. This means that the area between your butt and shoulders will be higher than your knees.
    • As you grow stronger, you should try to make the area between your knees and your shoulders a straight line. Don’t let your butt drop too low, or you will disengage your core and hurt your lower back.
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    Hold the kneeling plank for 15 to 60 seconds. Repeat twice with a 30 second rest in between. Do this every other day for the first week.
    • If you can already do a single 60-second kneeling plank, move onto the next step in the push up training regimen. [2]

Part 3
Mastering a Full Plank

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    Set up your exercise mat. Put on athletic shoes. They will help support your ankles and give you extra traction.
    • People who are used to yoga may choose to do planks and push-ups with bare feet.
    • If possible, set yourself up parallel to a mirror, so you can see how straight your plank is.
    • Use hand weights to cushion your wrists, as described with the kneeling plank.
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    Get on your hands and knees, as if you were going to do a kneeling plank.
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    Flex your core muscles, focusing on lifting your deep abdominal muscles up and in.
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    Shift your weight into your upper body. Extend 1 leg behind you. Adjust your weight and then extend the other leg.
    • Your legs should be hip width apart.
    • Your arms should be shoulder width apart.
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    Adjust your body until you form a straight line from the top of your head to your ankles. Take a moment to turn your head and look in the mirror, if you have set yourself up in front of 1.
    • Ensure that your wrists are directly under your shoulders.
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    Hold the full plank for at least 15 seconds. Aim to reach a full minute, breathing in and out the entire time. Do the plank every other day, increasing in intervals of 15 seconds each time you do the plank.
    • If counting is difficult, set a kitchen timer or cell phone timer at the top of your mat. Start it just before you get into plank position.
    • Once you can hold a full plank for 60 seconds, you can move on to the knee and incline push up.

Part 4
Starting Incline Push ups

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    Find a low bench at the gym or a low bar on a playground. A bike rack bar will work well.
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    Make sure you have traction on the area behind you. Concrete or a gym floor and athletic shoes with good treads should give you enough support.
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    Lean over and grasp the bar, or place your hands on top of the weight bench. Ensure your arms are shoulder width apart.
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    Pull in and flex your core muscles. Extend 1 leg out behind you. Then, extend the other leg.
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    Get into a straight plank position at an incline.
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    Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest almost touches the bar or bench. Hold for 3 seconds. Raise yourself out of the push up.
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    Do 10 incline push-ups with pauses in between. Do 1 60-second plank following the exercise every day. [3]
    • If your arms or chest are sore, it is ok to skip a day and let them recover during this training plan.

Part 5
Performing Full Push ups

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    Return to your exercise mat. If you can do a 60-second plank and 10 incline push-ups, you can most likely perform a few full push-ups.
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    Get into your full plank position.
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    Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your chest almost reaches the floor. Pause for 1 second and push up. If you can’t lower yourself to the mat, pause at the lowest point for 3 seconds and then extend your arms.
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    Do as many push ups as you can every day. Try to do 2 more push-ups than you did the previous day.

Tips

  • Always breathe in and out steadily as you do planks or push-ups. If you are holding a plank, breathe in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts. If you are doing a push up, inhale as you lower your body and exhale as you lift your body.
  • To work your triceps muscles, point your elbows downward instead of letting them go to the side when you do your push ups.

Warnings

  • Beware that push-ups can cause a spike in blood pressure. Ask your doctor before doing planks or push-ups.

Things You'll Need

  • Athletic shoes
  • Exercise mat
  • Hex hand weights
  • Metal bar or bench

Article Info

Categories: Motivation to Exercise