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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Push up progression

Push ups are sometimes described as the 'king of bodyweight exercises'. They will work the muscles in your chest (pectorals), in the back of your arm (triceps), and in your shoulders (anterior deltoids). Different variations and hand placements will affect to what degree these muscles come into play.

To perform a standard push up with good form, place your weight on your hands and feet, with your spine and head in alignement with your legs, and your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (palm flat on the floor). Lower your upper body to the floor, flexing the elbows, then rise back to the start position. Keep your head still, and keep your eyes looking down. Breathe in on the way down, and out on the way up, and pull the abdominal muscles tight throughout the exercise.

Push-ups which are performed with your elbows in (closer to your body) put more emphasis on the triceps. Wide arm push ups with arms at a 90 degrees angle to your body focus on your chest.

Some people like to keep increasing the reps (100 continuous push ups is often seen as a good target), but if you really want to increase your strength, you should instead move through a progression of increasingly difficult exercises.

Start at whichever point of the progression  is relevant to you.
Unless otherwise indicated, you should be aiming to complete 6 sets of 6 repetitions of the given exercise within a workout.
The first set is a warm up set: go back two or three levels in the progression and perform that variation for 6 reps. 
Perform each following set ‘to failure’ (e.g. 6,6,5,5,4).  

In each new workout, you should aim to improve on the number of reps you performed previously by at least 1, e.g.: (6,6,5,5,4) (6,6,6,5,4) 
Once you manage 6 sets of 6 reps, you are ready to move on to the next variation in the progression.

If you find yourself not progressing any longer, take a few rest days, then resume training.



1. Wall push ups - performed against a wall.

2. Incline push ups - performed with your hands on a raised platform.

3. Box push ups - on your knees, with your spine and legs at a 90 degrees angle.

4. Three quarter push ups - on your knees, with your spine and legs in line.








5. Three quarters push ups on the way up, standard push up on the way down.








6. Standard push ups

7. Diamond push ups - thumb touching thumb, and index to index. Your elbows should brush against your sides. These put more of an emphasis on your triceps.

8. Uneven push ups - one hand resting on an instable object such as a basket ball.

9. Decline push ups - feet on a raised platform.









 10. Decline diamond push ups.









 11. Wall one-arm push ups (the wall should be one arm's length away from you). Just stand facing the wall and reach forward, until you can touch it with your fingertips, then rest your hand against the wall by leaning forward, and perform a push up).









12. Incline half one-arm push up. Place one hand under your breastbone, and only go through half the range of motion of a one arm push up.










13. Half one-arm push ups.









 14. Incline one-arm push ups: go through the whole range of motion this time.






15. One-arm push up.

32 comments:

  1. That is such a good progression! I wished I'd found this site when I started doing push ups, it would have saved me a lot of heartache, lol.

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  2. Can you do planche push-ups? (Legs in the air, wight fully balanced on your hands?) If so, could you put up a progression toward those?

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    Replies
    1. The progressions on the site are about to get a major overhaul... Over time, yes, I hope to do one for planche push ups, but I have a bunch of other stuff to post first.

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  3. Is there a way to continue with these progressions even if I take up weightlifting,which requires me to let one muscle group rest for a week?Thanks!

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    1. Simply pick the progressions you want which will allow you to rest the muscle group of your choice... You do not have to follow all the progressions all the time.

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  4. Thanks for this, My instructor has got me to do a press up whilst my feet were on a stability ball alternating between pressups and jacknives on the ball. I am so proud of myself that i was able to do it. I have always done pressups with my knees down as in the box pushups so I will try and progress now

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  5. So do you pick only one excersise? Or do you pick one from every category? I want to use this it seems proper. I'm 20yrs old 236lbs and 5'5. I don't think losing weight will be the prob honestly, I just don't want to lose the weight and look "skinny fat" so for an obese person would this program work? I'm like terrified about loose saggy skin all over my body, I know ill have some because of my size now I just don't want it to be ridiculus and obvious. Is this like a program that builds muscle to burn fat? Because that's what I've heard I should be doing. Srry it was so long

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    1. Yes, you pick only one exercise in each progression. Once you can do the indicaated number of reps, you move on to the next exercise.
      This programme will definitely help you build muscle, but you are right, losing weight quickly can sometimes lead to saggy skin. Making sure you lose the weight gradually will help prevent the problems. Also make sure you keep your skin hydrated. At 20 years old, you're still young enough that your skin will have retained most of its elasticity, so if you stick to these 2 principles, you should be fine.

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  6. These progressions look awesome. I'm going to start trying out the routine tomorrow. Any idea when we can expect the site overhaul you've been mentioning?

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    1. Also, how would we go about alternating in the uneven/one-arm pushups? Is it during the set or would it end up being 6 sets in total for both arms?

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    2. Site overhaul is coming up next week (I am on holidays then). Alternate the push ups during the set.

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  7. This may sounds like a stupid question, but should I do these all in one workout? Or am I supposed to do one, and move onto the next when I can do 6 sets of 6 reps? This seems like a great workout, but I'm just confused how it works. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Do one, then move on to the next in the next workout when you can do 6 sets of 6.

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  8. How long should i take on the way down during the pushup exercise (for pullups you say 3 seconds so i assume it applies for pushups too)?

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  9. I'm having problem doing the one armed wall pushup. I don't feel it, what should/can I do?

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  10. I'm having a lot of trouble moving on from the standard push ups to the diamond push ups- I can manage one or two of them and that's it. What should I do?

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    Replies
    1. Go for a few more reps with push ups. Maybe sets of 8... up to 10. Carry on with your dips and handstand push ups progressions as well... these will help develop your triceps.

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    2. I've been progressing toward diamond pushups by moving my hands closer together at each workout. 12-inch "diamonds" last week, then 9-inch, working on 6-inch diamonds now.

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  11. Hey great page. I recently quite my gym and barbell training after injuries and sickness. My plan is to build a pullup bar a parallel bars in the garden asap!

    Just one query. I find all the pushup variations very easy, even the 1 arm wall pushups is achievable. But as soon as i get to the 'Incline half one-arm push up' i can get a sketchy negative and nothing more. Any advise to help the transition to 1 arm?

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    Replies
    1. Find a flight of stairs. Start on the highest stair you can manage, and work your way down from there, until you can do one arm floor push ups.

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  12. Hey, I really like your exercise program! I am currently doing uneven push-ups and have a question concerning every one-limb exercise: do you rest after each set of one-limbed exercises, or after each pair of one-limbed exercises (ie: left limb, rest, right limb, rest, ...; or: left limb, right limb, rest, ...)?

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    Replies
    1. 6xleft limb, 6xright limb, rest... repeat and rinse 6 times.

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    2. just moved on to the uneven tonight. i got to second set and could do 6 on 1 arm but only 4 on the other. would it not make more sense to alternate arms between reps?

      also- which arm is meant to take more strain?

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  13. just moved on to the uneven tonight. i got to second set and could do 6 on 1 arm but only 4 on the other. would it not make more sense to alternate arms between reps?

    also- which arm is meant to take more strain?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, just saw this message. Don't alternate arms: simply start with your weaker arm, and don't do more than 4 reps with the stronger arm so far... Eventually, your weakest arm will catch up.
      The arm which rests on the floor should take the most strain. If it isn't, you should shift your weight accordingly.

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  14. Is there any way to bridge the gap between one armed wall push ups and one arm incline half push ups? i can to 6x10 on the wall but two sets on the incline are near impossible. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. As above, the best way to bridge the gap is to find a higher surface, like waist height, such as stairs, a high table or kitchen worktop. Stairs are good because they give you an incremental literal 'step' to go down as you get stronger and work towards the floor. Basically find something higher than the surface you are struggling with and work your way down.

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  15. Hey el diablo.

    What is the best way to progress to a clap push up. when your hands go in the air and you clap.
    Thanks

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  16. how long should I rest between sets?

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