Push-ups are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your whole body and pack on lean muscle. If you’ve been around my site for a bit, you’ll know that I’m a bit obsessed with push-ups.
I fell in love with push-ups as a teenager after I saw what they could do for me. I was able to get my bench press through the roof while building a hulking chest at the same time thanks to push-ups.
I was lifting weights and doing a lot of bench presses during that time as well however, I had a push-up routine that I would do on a near nightly basis that really helped me out.
Looking back, that nightly push-up routine deserves a lot of credit for the strength and muscle that I was able to build as a new bodybuilder.
To this day, I still incorporate push-ups into my routine several days a week. Ideally, I would do them every day, but that’s not always possible.
One question I get asked often is how to do more push-ups? It’s a basic exercise however, if you’ve ever tried them, you know that they are far from simple.
It can be especially difficult for people to get good at them and do a lot of them.
I’ve seen big guys who throw around impressive weights in the gym get humbled when they tried to drop and do a few push-ups.
Just because you can lift a lot does not necessarily mean you can do a lot of push-ups. This can frustrate a lot of people and they give up.
If you are having trouble doing push-ups, I have 5 simple things you can do that will help you increase the number of push-ups you are able to do. These are very basic and simple tips that will lead to big results if you follow them.
# 1- Do them every day
How do you get good at something fast? You do it every single day. Think of anything that you became really good at. I’m sure you did it often, at least in the beginning.
The mind and body respond to repetition. Both want to work efficiently for you and will quickly adapt to any stress you put on them to help you perform better the next time.
Push-ups are no different. I know that there is a ton of talk out there when it comes to overtraining from the fitness community, but it’s largely overblown.
Your body is made to work hard. It actually performs better for you overtime once you get it used to working out and working out hard.
You have to train smart, but you also have to stress your body and train hard. If you want to do more push-ups, doing them every single day is going to help you do that.
Set a time every day when you can spend some time doing push-ups. It does not have to be a huge chunk of time. 20 minutes is more than enough. You just have to make it a habit.
During the time you set aside to do your push-ups, decide before how many you are going to do. I suggest starting out with the goal of doing 100 push-ups broken down into as many sets needed to do so. 10 sets of 10 is a good start.
The important thing is that the sets are hard, but doable. You need to be working when you do them. They should not be too easy. You need to push your body and muscles a bit so that they come back stronger the next day.
Your progress will not be perfectly linear doing them this way, but you will see huge gains overtime. Some days you will feel strong and beat your best day by several reps. Some days you will feel weaker and do less than the day before
Just stick with it and you will see results.
# 2- Grease the groove
I first heard of this concept a few years ago in a book called by Enter The Kettlebell by Pavel Tsatsouline. It’s a simple but brilliant concept that works well.
The basic premise behind the concept of greasing the groove is closely related to the points I made above. The body responds well to frequency.
The more you do a certain movement, the more efficient the neuromuscular motor pattern related to that movement is going to become.
While this is usually used with weights, it can easily apply to push-ups or any exercise for that matter.
Greasing the groove means that you do smalls sets of a certain exercise frequently during the day. For example, 20 push-ups an hour every hour for 10 hours.
It will take you less than a minute to do however, at the end of the day you will have completed 200 push-ups without breaking a sweat.
As opposed to struggling to do 200 push-ups in a short period, you are simply just spreading them out over a larger period of the day.
By doing this, you are working on the skill of doing push-ups without having to deal with the usual fatigue and muscle weakness that comes along with doing them all at once.
This may sound a little silly if you haven’t heard it before, but I can tell you that it works shockingly well. You will be amazed how much quicker you will improve when you do it.
There are no hard and fast rules as far as how many sets or reps to do. It’s something you just have to feel out. The above example of 20 pushups an hour for several hours is a good starting point.
# 3- Use different variations
While I think that the basic push-up is the most effective for strength and size when done correctly, there are many other variations that are beneficial.
Different push-up variations will hit different muscles differently, which can make you stronger overall. Doing things such as going slower or faster while you do your daily push-ups will also be effective.
There are a million types of push-ups you can do. The ones that I recommend aside from the basic push-up, are diamond push-ups, incline push-ups, decline push-ups and wide grip push-ups.
These are all fairly similar to the standard push-up however, they will hit your chest differently and work your triceps differently. Particularly the diamond push-up, as it focuses heavily on the triceps.
I recommend trying a few variations after you’ve established a routine doing the standard push-up and have made some good progress.
Remember, you want to increase the number of push-ups that you do, so you should still be focusing heavily on doing the good old-fashioned push-up.
The variations should be a supplement to your daily routine. Every few days or so, throw a few sets in of a variation or two. You can add the variations at the end as well.
I typically will do a few sets of diamond push-ups after I have done a good number of standard push-ups because I don’t want to exhaust my triceps in the beginning.
It’s usually better to save it for the end depending on your goals.
# 4- Change your rep structure
It’s important that you don’t get too routine if increasing the number of push-ups you can do is your goal. You want to switch it up from time to time.
One of the ways that I like to this is changing up the rep structure of my push-up workouts. Sometimes, I will do sets until failure and other days I will set a certain number of repetitions to do.
You do not always have to do push-ups until exhaustion. You can decide in the beginning that you are going to sets of 10 until you get to 100 or 200.
This does a few things. First, it keeps your body guessing and keeps it off balance. This is important to do because the body adjusts to a routine quickly.
Also, it just keeps it fun. It’s boring to do the same exact workout every day. This shouldn’t be a chore. It should be something that you look forward to.
Make it fun. One of my favorite push-up workouts to do that I got from the Bold & Determined blog, is ten push-ups every minute for an hour.
This is a really fun workout that will get your chest pumped up like no other. The best part is that it is relatively easy however, by the end you will have done 600 push-ups!
I do it while watching a movie or TV. It makes the time fly by and it really doesn’t feel like work. Do that workout every day and watch your push-up gains skyrocket!
# 5-Set a goal
This is an important but often overlooked part of the process. You have to actually decide how many push-ups you want to do.
What is a lot for you? If you can do only 10 at a time now, perhaps it’s 50 at a time. If you can do 50 straight now, perhaps you want to do 100. Maybe it’s a certain number within a set amount of time.
Whatever it is, you have to decide on it in the beginning and write it down. It’s been proven time and time again that people who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them.
You have to know what the end goal is. It will help keep you focused and push through those days when you’d rather die than do another push-up.
Once you set a goal for the number of push-ups you want to do, it will help you track your progress along the way.
Make sure you also write down how many push-ups you could do in the beginning so you can look back and see how much progress you’ve made along the way.
Push your way to progress
Hopefully I’ve opened your mind a bit to some potential ways you can go about blowing the roof off of your personal push-up record.
One thing that I have come to love and appreciate about the push-up is that the journey never ends. There is always someplace else to go.
When you have mastered doing a lot of push-ups, then you can go on to mastering a certain type of push-up and increasing the number of reps you can do with that variation.
I hope that you catch the push-up bug as I have many years ago. The gains that you will get both in strength and size will be worth it.
To your progress,
P.S. Have you had difficulty increasing the number of push-ups you can do? I would love to hear any questions or comments you have below!