How To Progress Your Push-Ups

Learn how to progress your push-ups, no matter where you're starting at!
Ian Birnam
October 19, 2021

Push-Ups are one of those movements that many people find challenging, and sometimes don't see much progress. But it doesn't have to be that way!

There's a few general things to keep in mind for your push-ups:

  1. Core Engaged: Squeeze those ribs down and tuck in that stomach, we want a solid plank form with a nice straight back from when we start the push-up to when we finish it
  2. Squeeze Your Shoulder Blades: As you go down, squeeze your shoulder blades to the center of your back, and then pull them apart as you come up. This will engage your shoulders in the movement, and take some of that pressure off of the arms
  3. Bring Your Elbows In: Your elbows should be any where from brushing against your ribs, to 45 degrees out from your body. We don't want them going out at the sides (like you see in movies/tv) cause that puts strain on our elbows that we just don't need.

With these tips in mind, let's learn how to progress your push-ups from your beginning to advanced stages:

Wall Push-Ups

Wall Push-Ups

If you're new to push-ups, always best to start here! Just getting used to moving your body in this way, focusing on keeping the 3 tips above in mind as you do it. Once you can do 10 of these and it doesn't feel like a challenge, move on to the next phase:

Incline Push-Ups

Incline Push-Ups - 30inch
Incline Push-Ups - 24inch

Put your hands on an elevated surface and do your push-ups from there (again keeping the 3 tips in mind). Start with a tall surface (30 inches high is a good start) and then work your way down to progressively lower surfaces. Moving down ~6 inches at a time is what we recommend, and always make sure you're using a stable surface.

You may find yourself at this stage of push-ups for awhile - that's ok! This is by far the longest push-up stage there is, and can take months, or even a year progressing down until you're on the floor. Remember, only decrease the height of the incline once you can do 8-10 push-ups comfortably.



The main event! You've decreased the height until you were at ground-level, and now you're doing push-ups! Make sure you avoid doing the worm here and keep that core engaged and that back nice and straight (no curving or arching). From here there's lots of variations you can do: tricep, wide, clapping, pike, the list goes on and on!

Once you're ready, you can challenge yourself further with the next step:

Deficit Push-Ups

Deficit Push-Ups

Here your hands are raised off the ground, but you still bring your chest all the way down to the ground. By lifting your hands off, your body has a further distance to travel, making the movement more challenging. This one will work the chest more so than a standard push-up. You can also challenge your balance by using something less stable for your hands, like a slam ball (pictured above).

We got one more progression for you:

Decline Push-Ups

Decline Push-Ups

The opposite of incline push-ups, now your feet are on the elevated surface, hands on the ground. This puts more emphasis on your shoulders, and also means your body has to travel a longer distance to the ground. Don't rush these ones!

Want to Work On Your Push-Ups?

Regardless of where you're at, we'll help you get to the next stage in the progression, and get you feeling confident in this movement! Come on in, your first 3 classes are only $1!

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