3 Ways to Improve Your Push Ups
Love them or hate them, push-ups are a consistent part of any gym routine. Therefore improving your push ups is a constant part of your gym routine.
Push ups are a great way to;
- improve your shoulders and upper body strength,
- strengthen your core,
- a foundation exercise that you can add many variations too once you have nailed the basics!
One reason to work on improving your push-ups is that included in fitness testing and are a great way of measuring your strength and progress as you get older. If you are looking for a different way to motivate yourself, measuring your push ups is great
For 40-49 year old women:
- 10-14 is Average
- More than 28 is athletic
- Less than 2 is unconditioned
The push-up consists of two moves,
- lowering your body to the ground you need flexibility in your chest muscles and
- pushing back up which uses/builds on your upper body strength.
For 3 ways to improve your push ups I am assuming that you currently exercise. You are healthy with no injuries but that you spend a lot of time sitting with all the posture issues that can come from that!
Improve Push Ups 1: Posture
If you know your upper body posture is not great then you will struggle to be in alignment while performing your push ups. This will make it ten times harder when there is muscle tension but not where you want it to be! The muscles that you want to strengthen will not be able to do their job.
Chest stretches before you perform your push-ups can help dramatically, particularly if you have spent all day typing at your desk.
Your chest muscle (pectorals) are fan shaped rather than linear so play around with variations to find one that suits you best.
This stretch is the arms of a yoga pose called Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana). It can be done standing or sitting.
If your fingers wont clasp together then use your gym towel, yoga strap or a band in-between each hand to help you get in a good posture. This means you can comfortably open through your collar bones.
Hold for 30 secs and swap sides
Improve Push Ups 2: Adaptions
I’m assuming that you are currently not reaching your target number of reps of push ups. Keeping in mind that once you do reach that figure, you will change it so that it’s a challenge again! So it’s not a bad thing, just where you are today!
Knowing your options for adapting so you get the most out of your adapted push ups in order to help you reach your goal.
1. Knees to the floor is a popular option as it reduces your weight and the amount you are lifting. However, if you have tight hip flexors you will struggle to be in good alignment and will have tension in your hips in order to keep your pelvis in neutral
2. Incline Push Up’s. This is when you raise your hands off the floor using a step, weight bench or other piece of stable kit. The higher your arms are the easier the push ups become.
Inclined Push up’s (2) are my preferred option, but have a play around with it and see which one suits you best!
Improve Push Ups 3: Breathing
An underrated tool in your workout is your breathing pattern. Pilates is great for teaching how you breath affects your exercise making a movement easier or harder. As a general rule of thumb exhale on the hardest part of the exercise.
For push ups, most of us we will find lowering to the floor easy and pushing back up hard. Which makes our breathing pattern:
- Inhale : lower down
- Exhale: push up
- Inhale to prepare
- Exhale to lower
- Inhale to prepare
- Exhale to push up
Try both options and see which option works best for you!
Push ups are a foundational exercise and can be improved by:
- working on flexibility in chest by regular chest stretches
- knowing what push up adaptions work best for you
- use you breath to help you
Push ups are part of fitness testing and a great way of measuring your progress!