Out of all the bodyweight exercises one can do, I've realized that push-ups tend to be one of the hardest movements to learn. As a trainer, I work with a lot of clients who have specific goals, and learning how to do a proper push-up is always on the top of their lists. For most, perfecting a push-up is a matter of building strength and learning how to move the weight of their body correctly. Instead of having my clients attempt push-ups until failure with incorrect form (and foster an "I can't" mentality), I start by breaking down each aspect of the push-up.
First, we focus on push and pull exercises like rows, chest presses, bicep curls, and chest flys. Next, I'll have them practice holding a plank for 10-30 seconds, since push-ups require core strength and stability. Once they have a strong foundation, they advance to practicing push-ups with yoga blocks. This is effective because they're able to master the movement pattern without compromising their form.
Here's how to do it:
- Start in a plank position with your arms and legs straight, shoulders above your wrists, and two yoga blocks stacked vertically underneath your chest.
- Take a breath in, and as you exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your chest toward the ground. Stop as soon as your chest touches the yoga blocks. Inhale to straighten the arms. This counts as one rep.
- If this is too difficult, do this exercise with your knees on the floor.
- Complete two sets of 10 reps.
- As you continue to get stronger, remove a yoga block to increase the depth of the push-up. Eventually you'll be able to work your way up to doing a push-up without a yoga block.