Train to Improve Your Push-Up Power

I received a great question from a Military.com member about building up strength to do full, strong pushups.

So many women have trouble building up the strength, or just say they hate doing them and give up. It’s very important for women to have stong upper body strength. Just follow these steps:

1) Start standing arm’s length away from a wall and count as many as you can do against it. If you can do more than 20, move on to the next step. If not, practice every other day until you can do 20 against the wall, trying to do one or two more each day. (You need to give yourself a day to recover in between.) Finish by stretching your chest muscles: link your fingers behind you and lift your arms upwards for 15 seconds.

2) Find a table, couch, weight bench, bed or counter. This should be around knee- to waste-level high. Stand back far enough so that you can lean your body diagonally onto the bench, holding yourself up with your arms. Do the pushups at this level, working slowly up to 20 at a time, practicing every other day. Bring your chest down to the bench or whatever you are practicing on, and be sure to focus on keepng a straight line from your ankles to your hips to your shoulders. Hands should be farther than shoulder width apart. Keep the body aligned and don’t hinge at the hips. It’s better to only do one perfect move rather than 10 with poor form. Watch yourself sideways in a mirror or have a friend watch you and tell you if your hips tilt up to the sky or you let the belly sink to the floor instead.

3) Move to a step (either like one from an exercise class or a step at home on a staircase.) Start on your knees with feet together. Again focus on your form being a straight line from your knees to hips to shoulders while bringing your chest and chin to the step  and work your way up to 20.

4) Now you are ready to do them on your feet, still on a step. Ankles, hips and shoulders in line, chest and chin to the step.

5) Congrats! You are ready to try the full pushup. Once you work up to 20, you can start trying to do more.

Quick Push-up Tip: You should always work your upper back muscles — the opposing muscle group — to avoid a muscle imbalance. An imbalance will cause the shoulders to round forward, tight pectoral muscles, overstretched trapezius and rhomboids, and other back conditions, even pain. You can strengthen your back by doing weighted dead rows, weighted reverse flys, or by laying on the floor, arms out to the side away from body at shoulder level — forming a T — and lifting the chest and arms off the floor. You squeeze the shoulder blades towards each other and release down for 20 reps.

Good luck with your workouts this week!

Nikki

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