5 Secrets to Doing More Pushups
When I started training Paul, he was struggling with 5 pushups. He wasn't overweight, but he just didn't have the upper body strength and endurance to crank out more pushups. But in weeks, following these five simple steps, he was able to pound out almost two dozen pushups in a row.
Step 1: The Harsh Truth
While Paul wasn't overweight, he still needed to lose body fat, and when we helped him drop 7 pounds in 3 weeks, his pushup performance skyrocketed. The harsh truth about pushups is the more body fat you have, the more deadweight that you are trying to push around. So, make sure you are doing your interval training, doing your supersets, and incorporating a healthy diet to bring your body fat down and get rid of the deadweight.(1) If you do these things, then you'll find that you are able to do more pushups.
Step 2: Control Your Muscles
Most men and women aren't able to control the muscles that need to do the work in the pushup. Pushups require your chest, shoulders, and triceps (muscles at the back of your upper arms) to contract and provide force to raise your body to the top position. However, most people don't realize that those same muscles must control the lowering phase of the pushup.
So every pushup you do, focus on thinking about your chest, triceps and shoulders controlling your descent and then contracting to produce the force as you rise up. Plus, in every pushup, you must brace your abs (as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach). This will give your torso stability and create a powerful straight line from ankles to shoulders. This will work your abs and protect your back.
Step 3: Practice on the Bunny Slope
When you are doing pushups, there are a couple ways that you can add strength and endurance. First, you can do an incline pushup. This exercise will allow you to take some of the weight off when doing the pushup, which will in turn add more endurance. So to perform and incline pushup, rest your hands on a bench, and then mimic a pushup. With this exercise, you are not going all the way down to the ground and so it will be a little bit easier in helping you build endurance.
If you lack the set-up to do incline pushups, the next best thing is to do kneeling pushups. Just make sure you keep your body in a straight line and brace your abs at all times.
Step 4: Build Strength By Lowering Your Body
The next step is build "eccentric" strength. That refers to the strength in the lowering phase of the pushup. Think back to the muscle control we talked about earlier. What I want you to do is take 5 seconds to lower yourself to the bottom position in each repetition of the pushup. This will build strength and muscle control faster than if you just let your body flop to the ground.
You won't be able to do as many, but you'll get more muscle control and build more strength. I recommend that you do these exercises earlier in the week because this might cause muscle soreness. The first time you do these, do only one set of as many slow lowering pushups as possible on a Monday, then incorporate Step 5 later in the week in a second pushup workout.
This slow lowering phase also teaches you perfect form and reminds you to brace your abs and work your stomach muscles in each repetition. Soon you'll be able to do as many 5-second pushups as you could do normal pushups, and that will double the amount of pushups you can do at regular speed.
Step 5: Hold It!
If you are still struggling with doing less than 5 pushups in a row, your next steps are to do 3-5 second holds at both the middle and bottom range of the push-up. This will build strength in your weakest points along the pushup path.
In this workout, do one set of pushups where you lower yourself to bottom of the pushup position and hold for 3 seconds and then push back up, doing as many repetitions as you can. Follow that with a lower body exercise and 1 minute of rest and then do a second set where you lower your body to the middle of the pushup position and hold it for 5 seconds, and then push back up to the top position. Repeat for 5 repetitions.
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