How to Improve your Push Ups

Push ups are a tried and true method to develop upper body strength. Here’s a definitive guide on how to get better at push ups. As an Army Veteran, I considered myself an “expert” in how to beat your face. I’ll share some techniques on how you can improve your push ups.

How to Improve Push Ups

  • Hands Elevated Push ups
  • Regular Push ups
  • Feet Elevated push ups

This is part of our at home series. Look at how you can train your legs here.

What’s a good Push Up Goal?

If you follow typical strength/hypertrophy research, 15-20 is good, 25-30 reps is great.

Once you can consistently hit 20 reps (+/- 10) at a given push up type, try to make the exercise more challenging.

Making Push ups easier

For technique purposes, I prefer to elevate the hands versus bending the knees (aka “girl push ups”). This helps you learn better body control.

The goal is always 25 reps at each level. My mom does these on her kitchen counter. I had a Navy female doing them from a 20″ box today.

I like to do them from a bench when I warm up.

How to do Push ups

Not much to say that I haven’t already mentioned, this video is just for reference in case you just crawled out from under a rock and are unsure what a push up looks like.

I prefer full ROM – chest to the ground. I have patients that do military fitness testing and we’ll do the style specific to their test for prep for specificity purposes.

Making push ups harder

After you’ve mastered your 3 sets of 20 with your hands elevated and on flat ground, now you can just elevated your feet.

I prefer the chest touches the ground, so that limits how high you can elevated your feet. In general 18″ is about a max height. Worse case you can just put something under your chest, that’s mostly so you can keep your head neutral.

Sample push up program progession

The first step in getting to a solid set of push ups is to see how many sets it takes you to get to 25. You can do

  • 1 set of 25
  • 5 sets of 5
  • 25 sets of 1

You get the idea, really i’m just trying to illustrate how to there’s more than one way to skin this cat.

Sample Program

You can whatever scheme, the only goal is to INCREASE the # of reps in each set over time. Here’s a quick sample program you can use 2-3x/week

  • Week 1 – 5 sets of 4 reps every 1 minute (20 reps)
  • Week 2 – 6 sets of 4 reps every 1 minute (24 reps)
  • Week 2 – 5 sets of 5 reps every 1 minute (25 reps)
  • Week 3 – 5 sets of 6 reps every 1 minute (30 reps)
  • Test your push ups

Go ahead and do some push ups

Regardless of where you start, theres a push up variation for you. I’ve had people aged 16 to 86 doing some version of a push up. Progress them slowly, and by following this guide, you easily have several months of work to do.