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3 Tips to Instantly Improve Your Push-Ups

Matt Skeffington

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Feb 14 5 minutes read

When it comes to building a better, leaner, and stronger upper-body, there are few better exercises than the push-up. 

No matter what your fitness goals are -- weight-loss, strength, endurance, to look and feel better, or a combination of these, the push-up should be a big part of your routine. 

They are a fantastic way to:

  • Improve the strength and tone of your triceps, chest and shoulders
  • Increase core stability
  • Improve shoulder health and function
  • Shred fat

They also greatly carryover to other exercises.

Being able to complete multiple, perfect push-ups is only going to help you improve the fitness qualities mentioned above.

Because they involve your entire body and require a lot of strength, they are also going to allow you to improve your strength and efficiency with a variety of other exercises like planks, presses, burpees, and more!

Simply put, the better you get at push-ups, the better you will get at a variety of other exercises and the more advanced your fitness level will become. 

Think of the push-up as one of the key foundational movements when it comes to your fitness.

Here's the thing though...

In order to reap all the great benefits of push-ups, your technique, posture and position must be spot on.

This will not only allow you to display better strength and stamina during your push-ups (leading to better results), but it will also decrease your risk of injury (especially around your wrists, elbows and shoulders).

Although push-ups may be the most popular strength exercise and seem simple, they are one of, if not the most improperly executed strength exercises on the planet. 

Today, we are going to cover 3 simple tips to instantly improve your push-ups.

Enjoy!

1| Get really good from a kneeling position

The biggest mistake we see people make in improving their push-ups is progressing too quickly to the regular push-up position from the floor.

One drill that we LOVE at DSC is the kneeling push-up.

We use them both in our warm-ups to practice our push-ups as well as part of our strength training circuits.

The kneeling position simply makes the push-up easier which allows you to focus on getting your set-up, technique, and building your strength so you will be all set for when we transition to the regular push-up position. 

An alternative to kneeling push-ups if you are unable to go on your knees would be to do modified push-ups from an incline such as a bench or box. 

Here's a video on mastering the kneeling position:

2| Incorporate cluster sets

Your typical set of push-ups requires you to complete somewhere between 8 and 10 reps.

You get into it and reps 1, 2, and 3 look great. Then reps 4, 5, and 6... not so much.

As fatigue sets in, your hips begin to sag, you dive your head forward and do anything and everything possible to complete the set. 

You revert back to old habits and start to put excessive stress on your wrists, shoulders, neck, and low-back.

When it comes to push-ups, we want you to think quality over quantity.

Slowing things down and getting your technique spot on will have a drastic effect on your long-term fitness results.

Enter the cluster push-up.

Instead of doing 10 push-ups in a row where the last 5 reps get sloppy, break them up.

Hit 3-4 reps then rest :20. Complete 3-4 more and rest :20. Then do your final 3-4 reps.

That's 9-12 total reps for your set.

The mini-breaks of :20 gives your arms, chest, shoulders, and core time to recover so when you get back to your next mini-set you're fresh and ready to rock! 

Check out our video on cluster push-ups below!

3| Reach at the top

One of the most common things we coach our members on is slowing down their push-up.

By keeping things slow and under control, you force your body to create tension longer.

Your arms have to work longer and harder.

Your chest, shoulders, upper-back, and abs have to do the same.

Yes, they will be harder then blasting through them, but easier isn't what we're after.

We're after the solution that's going to yield the greatest results.

One fantastic way to help you build more strength (especially through your shoulders, upper-back, and abs) is to complete a long reach and pause at the top of your push-up.

You're going to feel your abs working double time!

This reach will also force some of the most important stabilizing muscles of your shoulders to work double-time as well, making the pause and reach a fantastic shoulder injury-prevention tool as well.

Check out this video on how to pause and reach on your next push-up!

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