Master the push-up with our push-up challenge

The push-up is one of the best bodyweight exercises that anyone can do (depending on any injury/limiting factors). So why not kick-start your new year with a push-up challenge? You’ll learn how to master the exercise, while improving your strength and fitness.

The beauty of the push-up is you can modify it to suit your level, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned pro, or you’ve never done one before.

Plus, you can do them almost anywhere, so they’re very easy to weave into your daily routine.

What are push-ups good for?

The main purpose of a push-up is to build strength and muscle in the chest area. But that’s not the only thing it’s good for.

Push-ups also:

  • work the shoulders and triceps
  • strengthen the lower back and abs by ‘dragging in your core’
  • improve your cardiovascular fitness, while helping to reduce body fat
  • help create stronger, denser bones – reducing the chance of osteoporosis.

Development of muscles in this way will also increase your heart rate. This means doing push-ups can have a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular system and help reduce body fat. Push-ups are also beneficial for strengthening bones meaning it can help slow down the possibility of osteoporosis by creating a stronger more dense bone structure.

Everyone will start at a different level but that’s the beauty of the push-up: there are variations and modifications so it doesn’t matter if you’ve never done them before or if you’re a seasoned pro.

How to do a push-up

If you’re a beginner, doing a full push-up for the first time can be a little daunting. As you build up your strength, you could start with incline push-ups or kneeling push-ups.

While many people think you should be in a T shape (elbows in line with your shoulders), this can actually strain your shoulder joint. But no matter what your level, you should focus on getting the technique right. While many people think you should be in a T shape (elbows in line with your shoulders), this can actually strain your shoulder joints.

Instead you should aim for an upside-down V shape by moving your hands back slightly and tucking them closer into your torso.

Tips for the perfect push-up

  1. Start with on all fours, then raise yourself up into a high plank position, palms flat on the floor, hands in the tucked position mentioned above.
  2. Drag your abs in once you’re up in this position and keep your back flat.
  3. Slowly lower yourself to the floor while keeping your torso strong – try not to flex your lower back or hips.
  4. Continue down so that your chest is just above the floor and drive your hands down to raise your body up in a straight line.
  5. Repeat the motion until you can’t keep the same body position, or you can’t push yourself up anymore.

Try a 30 day push-up challenge

Once you’ve mastered your technique, decide what your 30-day goal is. You could:

  • set a number of push-ups to do every day for 30 days
  • set a total to complete over 30 days
  • aim to progress from an incline or kneeling push-up, to a standard push-up, and maybe even to the variations below by day 30.

Over the course of 30 days you should notice your strength increase so don’t stand still, challenge yourself to increase the number of push-ups you do every day.

Try to increase the number of push-ups you do slowly and consistently, focusing on the technique tips.

Aiming for 100 push-ups a day by day 30 is a good goal to have. As you build up to 100 push-ups, don’t worry about completing them in one go. Take a few seconds break every few push-ups if you need to. It’s a mental challenge as much as a physical challenge.

Push-up variations to challenge yourself further

As with every exercise, it’s important to add some variation to keep challenging the muscles. If you feel ready to try some push-up modifications, watch our personal trainers explain how to perform them below.

How to do a wide hand push-up

Engage a little more chest and shoulder into the exercise by going slightly wider with your starting hand position.

The next exercise we've got is a wide grip pushup.

We're going to start with the hands just wider than shoulder width apart. We're going to lift up onto the toes. Back stays nice, flat, long and strong and we're going to lower the body so the chest gets just as close to the floor as possible and push back through the hands and we repeat that keeping the back nice and flat and the hips up.

An option is to drop to the knees and we're just going to repeat that movement so keeping the chest as close to the floor as possible and then really, really engaging that core on the upward phase.

How to do a suspended push-up

Add in the use of the TRX suspension trainer to increase the stability through the shoulders, giving you an added challenge plus the addition of trying to keep the core strong through this motion.

This is the suspended push-up. Begin with your feet hip distance apart, taking hold of the handles of the Suspension Trainer, lowering yourself into the push-up position.

Lower down, keeping your abs braced and your glutes squeezed and drive back up to your start position.

How to do a Spiderman push-up

Give yourself a real challenge and some variation to make the push up more interesting try this Spiderman variation.

We're going to perform a spider-man pushup. So to begin this exercise we're going to start off in our push-up position, so the hands are just underneath the shoulders, the back's nice and flat and the feet are just hip distance. From here we're going to stagger the hands then we're going to lower the torso down to the ground and bring the right knee up to the hip level, making sure the hips don't hit the ground. Just bring that knee right up to the hip level just keeping those abs nice and braced.

Now we're going to do the opposite side but we're going to make this a little bit easier by dropping the knees down to the ground. Bringing that knee right up to the hip still bending the arms. And that's excellent work well done.

Each of these variations has the ability to progress and regress just by changing the leg position. Drop to your knees to lift less of your body or change the angle on the TRX to allow you to complete the desired amount of repetitions quickly and safely.

Key takeaway

The great thing about the push-up is its versatility. Whatever your ability or fitness level, you can incorporate them into your workout to get stronger and fitter.

A 30-day challenge is a great way to make improvements and work towards a goal. Always think about your technique to avoid injuries and get the most out of your push-ups.

Last updated Monday 30 March 2020

First published on Monday 16 December 2019