This is one of the basics that you will see in any fitness class and your standard push up can be very challenging – not only for beginners, but for everyone. See below for some tips on doing push ups and grow stronger!
1. Start lying down
I can not stress this enough. Lie down on the ground like in the picture below. Lie with your forehead on the ground, hands underneath your shoulders with your legs extended, toes curled in.
Now, push your hips into the ground and ‘pack your shoulders’ – (by packing your shoulders I mean pull your shoulders together and down into your back). You should feel as though you are pushing yourself up off the ground using everything between your rib cage and hips. Now extend the crown of your head so your forehead comes up off the ground, as if your spine and neck are connected and extending outward (secret: they are connected).
Make a mental note of how this feels, how this connection through your hips, back and abs, neck and head feels. This connection is how you are supposed to feel as you are doing your push up. Your body is in a basic plank right now. This is a good exercise in and of itself, and is a place to start when building strength in order to do a full push up. In doing this plank, your hands may come off the ground – that’s fine.
2. Find a level that works for you
Level 3 – Standard Push Up – With your hands under your shoulders and toes curled under your feet, with your whole body rising in unison while you maintain the connection of Step 1.
Level 2 – Single Knee Push Up – Keep both legs extended – however – when you push up keep one knee on the ground while with your other leg the toes are touching the ground.
Level 1 – Double Knee Push Up – Keep both legs extended but use your knees as your base for the push up.
*** For those of you who find Level 1 difficult – you can try moving both hands out from your centre line 1 width of your hand on each side. Try doing a push up from here. If that doesn’t work, move another half width of each hand. If still nothing, then try moving your knees in closer to your torso to lessen the load. Make a mental note of how far apart your move your hands away from centre (centre being directly under your shoulders) so you can track your progress and challenge yourself as you improve your push up. This tip can also be used for either Level 2 or 3 to as a bridge to the next level.
*** The key here is to maintain that connection from Step 1. When you find yourself getting tired from the push ups and your technique is failing, stop and go back to doing the plank. Build the strength through your back, core and shoulders – these are the most important areas of the push up.