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Push ups - progress question

alyssagb1alyssagb1 Member Posts: 346 Member Member Posts: 346 Member
Hi everyone!

I’ve been slowly building up my strength for full push ups. Initially I was doing 40 (4 sets, 10 ea) on knees then tried doing 1 regular push up, I couldn’t make it, at least not the correct way. I found I was doing them incorrectly by pointing my elbows too far out, so I started ensuring my elbows pointed almost directly behind me on whenever I went down. When I started this, I found I couldn’t make it past 20 total, or two reps of 10. Over 2 weeks I built back up to 40, I’ll likely go 50 next week.

Anyhow, to test my strength I tried a full push up yesterday (after about 3 weeks building back up to 40 on knees). I could do 2....

So my question is, is this merely a patience thing while I build strength? Or should I maybe combine my regular knee push up routine with a few regular push-ups as well. I’m just not sure why I still can’t do regular pushups, while trying to build strength with knee push ups. I appear to be building strength for sure, just not enough for a relatively reasonable amount of push ups.

Replies

  • jaymijonesjaymijones Member Posts: 171 Member Member Posts: 171 Member
    Try putting a yoga block under your knees to increase the incline a bit. I found that to be slightly harder than regular knee pushups, but not quite as hard as full pushups. It seems to be a good in between point. I do 3 full pushups because that’s all I can currently do, and then switch to using the block. Hoping to bump up to 4 soon.
  • ShortgirlrunningShortgirlrunning Member Posts: 686 Member Member Posts: 686 Member
    I agree with skipping knee push ups. I started with wall push ups and now have moved on to using the edge of my couch (because I workout at home).
  • springlering62springlering62 Member Posts: 999 Member Member Posts: 999 Member
    What really helped me was being told to push back through my heels, and being reminded that it’s basically a plank going up and down.

    I have shoulder issues. I couldn’t get my elbows back if my life depended on it because it causes so much pain, so I’ve given up the fight, and do it my way. It’s not pretty, but it is mine own.

    Yoga style rolling forward on toe tips also helps me quite a bit, and is my preferred style.

    One interesting thing someone said just this week was, to feel like you are pulling yourself towards the ground when you go down. I never thought of it that way, but since I have, it helps as well. Something about the visual of pulling down versus lowering down just clicked for me.
    edited May 22
  • KHMcGKHMcG Member Posts: 508 Member Member Posts: 508 Member
    Do the two regular then finish the set on your knees. After each Monday try to add one more regular.
  • christinewardchristineward Member Posts: 1 Member Member Posts: 1 Member
    Try doing reverse push ups — lower yourself from plank, then repeat to build up strength.
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 16,433 Member Member Posts: 16,433 Member
    Would disagree that elbows out is "incorrect" and only elbows back hinge style is correct.
    Just different variations on same exercise. I far prefer an elbows out stance as it works my chest more and feels far more natural and comfortable for me.

    BTW - I also think knee push ups aren't the best way to progress as you lose the core engagement which is a big benefit of push ups. Raise your hands up instead to a pont where you can do a reasonable number of reps, stairs give good progression.
    edited May 22
  • JimDewJimDew Member Posts: 862 Member Member Posts: 862 Member
    Stairs are a good way to slowly work down to horizontal regular push ups.

    Start 3-4 stairs up from the bottom. Each step you drop down gets you closer to regular.

    Good luck!
  • MichelleMcKeeRNMichelleMcKeeRN Member, Premium Posts: 147 Member Member, Premium Posts: 147 Member
    Perhaps try some planks, back exercises and arm exercises too.
  • briscogunbriscogun Member Posts: 819 Member Member Posts: 819 Member
    KHMcG wrote: »
    Do the two regular then finish the set on your knees. After each Monday try to add one more regular.

    Agreed, start with the hardest version you can do and THEN move on to variations.
    Try doing reverse push ups — lower yourself from plank, then repeat to build up strength.

    This is a GREAT way to build up strength as well. Do your 2 regular and then do negatives (sloooooowly lower yourself down to the floor over like a 5 second count), This is a yoga style move that is a great way to build upper body strength.

    Using stairs is another great idea! Much better than using your knees (as long as you have stairs available to you!).

  • alyssagb1alyssagb1 Member Posts: 346 Member Member Posts: 346 Member
    Thank you all so much for the advice!! It’s greatly appreciated :)
  • Diatonic12Diatonic12 Member Posts: 4,878 Member Member Posts: 4,878 Member
    @JimDew I've been using the stairs. Thanks for the great idea. It works.
  • richardgavelrichardgavel Member Posts: 855 Member Member Posts: 855 Member
    Odd question. What muscles are you using during the push up? Some beginner push up people see it as a shoulder/tricep driven exercise, but you need to focus on activating your chest muscles.
  • Duck_PuddleDuck_Puddle Member, Premium Posts: 2,957 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,957 Member
    Are you able to do a full, solid, regular, proper plank for a minute or so?

    I could do a zillion knee pushups, I could do a lot on stairs, I could bench 135, but couldn’t really do full push-ups until I could do proper planks for at least a minute.
  • LuciiculLuciicul Member Posts: 379 Member Member Posts: 379 Member
    I have had similar challenge with proper form push ups. It's still a work in progress for me, but what I've learned so far:
    • Strengthen your core with other exercises like plank and bird dog
    • Start with a lesser angle; against a wall, table, bench, or staircase where upper body is higher than lower body
    • Tuck your pelvis, into a position that helps you keep your core straight and strong rather than sagging/collapsing in the middle
    • Knee pushups remove the 'core' element, just working arms and chest rather than whole body. Can do these until the cows come home and still not be able to do a proper form push up.
    • Play around with your stance to try to understand where the 'weak' point is, and what you can do in the rest of the body to fortify it. What position are your feet in, your pelvis, your arms, neck, how are you breathing?
    • Other practices might be making it harder - yoga positions like up-dog & cobra require a curved stomach/back, and is what my body is more used to, so when I try a proper push up it wants to curve in this way (arms & chest push up, but pelvis stays close to the ground). Have to retrain the body into new shapes and ways of being.
  • SnifterPugSnifterPug Member Posts: 320 Member Member Posts: 320 Member
    I find knee push ups only make you good at knee push ups. In fact, I hate the things. Incline push ups are better.

    I am still working towards a proper full push up, but here are the things that are helping me get towards that goal (nearly there now):

    Very slow eccentrics (i.e. lowering only)
    Eccentrics down to the sticking point where you know you won't be able to get back up again and then holding at that point.
    Decline eccentrics (toes up on a step).
    Getting into downward dog and then bending elbows and pushing back up.
    Slinging a resistance band over a pull up bar and putting it round my hips for assistance. This last one I have just discovered but I am loving it. I am a great believer in doing any movement fully (if possible) and often this means deloading, which is a challenge for push ups. But now I have found a way!

    In all cases I vary my hand position a bit to hit different areas of musculature, but I won't ever flare elbows out at 90 degrees. 45 is the most I would go and mostly I stay narrower than that. I am told it is much kinder on the shoulders, especially if you touch chest to the floor every time.
  • JimDewJimDew Member Posts: 862 Member Member Posts: 862 Member
    Diatonic12 wrote: »
    @JimDew I've been using the stairs. Thanks for the great idea. It works.

    You’re welcome! Saw it on YouTube as a means of progression for one handed pushups

    Glad it works for you

  • alyssagb1alyssagb1 Member Posts: 346 Member Member Posts: 346 Member
    Odd question. What muscles are you using during the push up? Some beginner push up people see it as a shoulder/tricep driven exercise, but you need to focus on activating your chest muscles.

    Shoulders/triceps, back biceps are what I’ve been focusing on. I’ve tried keeping my abdominals tight as well. I’ll focus more on my chest as well, thank you!

  • ClimbingWolfClimbingWolf Member Posts: 261 Member Member Posts: 261 Member
    One "trick" I got from somewhere, think youtube vid, to effectively engaging your chest more is to open up your chest as broad as possible before going down in push-up stance. And while pushing, don't think of actually pushing yourself of the ground but think more of 'trying to bring your arms together as in squeezing your chest'.
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