Women struggle with pushups.
It is a harder exercise for women because of our biology.
However, if you practice correctly you can get better at pushups fast. And be good at them too!
I am going to give you the 7 tips to practice proper pushup form while progressing quickly.
This is a progression you can follow.
When you focus on an exercise, it's very easy to get some repetitive stress from doing the same motion over and over again.
So if you're going to take on my How To Get Better At Pushups Progression... make sure you:
Stretch your chest and arm muscles
Add in rows and pulling exercises
Add in shoulder and wrist mobility exercises
This will help your wrists... shoulders... and chest feel great over the course of your mastering your pushup form and strength.
7 Tips To Get Better At Pushups Fast
1. Use A Stack
A stack is a object and a goal for how low you need to go to improve your pushup depth.
I love to use a 3 inch yoga block.
But you can use anything...
Etc... you get the idea.
A yoga block is so nice because you can turn it to three different heights.
This "stack" is going to help push you to your limits which both with depth of your pushup and endurance too. I'll show you in a minute what I mean.
Pushing yourself is hard.
It's not comfortable... it exposes your weakness... and it makes you feel like you're far from your goal.
There are no secret to putting in the grit it takes to get better at certain exercises.
You'll have to put in the personal grit to work hard at pushups... but I know for a fact you'll improve much faster than you think.
So stay with the process and keep pushing yourself.
Make sure you recover too!
Aside: Key Pushup Form Tips
Elbows 45 Degrees or Less
Your elbows are going to be 45 degress from your shoulder line or less.
This means you will need to bring your hands closer together... placing them directly under your shoulders, if not a little behind.
Lock Your Legs
Keep your legs tight. Squeeze your butt (not crazy hard) and flex your quads.
This is going to help you move your body as one solid piece.
Hollow Your Core
Your back will arch a little... especially as you get tired.
But you need to train your brain on holding your core tight so it's doesn't arch like crazy. This is brain muscle communication and you will get better at it.
These pictures are exaggerated but I want you to see what I'm talking about.
Get on your tippy tippy toes.
This will be hard, but it will prevent you from leaning back on your toes and shooting your hips into the sky.
Twist Your Hands Into the Ground
This is probably one of the biggest tricks to great pushups. Take a look at the picture... you're going to twist your hands into the ground.
It's as if you were pulling the heels of your hands together, trying to wrinkle the ground under you.
This is so important because before you even start your rep... your muscles are engaged and ready to accept your bodyweight.
Try this... you'll be amazed at how much easier it makes your pushups.
You know tips like these is why it's so nice having an online personal trainer who actually talks to you!
2. Ring Pushups
This is optional. If you don't have rings you won't be able to do this... but if you have access to a gym... you should be able to.
Ring pushups are great for learning three HUGE aspects to a great pushup.
Rings put you in an unstable environment... mainly in your upper body... but also through your core.
Unlike doing a pushup on a box or on the ground... you'll immediately feel more muscle interaction going on at the top of the pushups and all the way through.
This will help your brain better communicate with your muscles to help build more endurance and coordination.
Because you're working on stability... you'll naturally be improving your ability to brace.
Ring pushups force you to squeeze the muscles in your arms to stabilize the rings during the pushup.
Your shoulders will get stronger
Your grip will get stronger
Your core will get stronger
When you first do ring pushups, you'll notice your arms shake uncontrollably.
By the end of 30 days... you'll have full control of your body.
It's pretty cool to see this transformation.
Through learning to stabilize and brace, your form will automatically improve.
Just make sure you follow the pushup form tips from above and the ring pushups will accelerate your pushup strength by weeks... even months.
One more thing...
You can't really use your stack here until you start getting down onto the ground.
For ring pushups... your stack is how far back can you get your feet.
To improve you have to maintain full depth of your pushup and slowly start moving your feet further and further back.
3. Knee Pushups
I am not a fan of knee pushups except for one thing... it's great practice at keeping your elbows in during the pushup.
Remember above, I said you want your elbows to be 45 degrees from your shoulder line or closer to your body?
Knee pushups are a great way to practice this.
Read more about knee pushups in the exercise database.
Other than that... stop doing knee pushups and start elevating your body on a box.
4. Box Pushups
Now you're going to start really getting good at pushups.
You don't need a box... you can use anything:
The side of your bathtub
The back of your couch
Anything to elevate your body
You want to get to a point where your pushup is HARD... but doable.
In this picture you can see I am using a lower box.
I want you to try and keep the level of your "box" going down as you get better and better.
If you focus on this you will improve quickly.
The biggest problem I've seen over my decades of training is... women not pushing their bodies.
Most women stay in their comfort zone, never pushing their muscles to adapt.
These women never get stronger... they never improve... and they remain frustrated by their lack of results.
So remember... you have to push yourself if you want to get results.
That's why I want you to choose a box that is HARD... but doable.
Box pushups are amazing compared to knee pushups because... (like ring pushups)...
You can now:
Engage your legs
Squeeze your butt
Hold your core tight
Rotate your hands into the surface
You can mimic a real pushup and this is going to help you get better at pushups fast.
5. Band Pushups
This is going to a hard to do for most people... but I have to mention it because it pairs so well with ring and box pushups.
You need a large exercise band. You can get one or a set from Rogue Fitness and probably Amazon. Go support Rogue though.
You also need a rig or something that can hold your band like this...
Rigs are the best because you can easily move the band up and down by small increments and find the best spot for you.
Why is this such a great way to get good at pushups?
Find your correct band level.
Place the band across your hips
Do fully pushups from the ground
Let the band help you
The band will help lift your hips which tends to be a tough thing for women to do as they learn pushups.
The "heavier" the band the easier your pushup will be. So make sure you choose a band that is HARD... but still makes your pushups doable.
One more key you HAVE to remember...
Keep your core engaged and squeeze your butt hard during this pushup variation.
It's easy to let your core go soft and let the band do all of the hard work.
Remember... you won't get stronger with your pushups if you don't push your muscle close to their breaking point.
Ramp up the intensity... keep your body tight.
Here are some pictures of moving the band down to make the pushup harder.
You want to keep moving it down over time. Push yourself!
6. Negative Pushups
We've talked about negative pushups on this blog numerous times.
They are one of the most effective ways to get stronger at nearly any exercise.
If you're goint get really good at pushups... you need to make little mini-training sessions at the end or the beginning of your workouts.
I'll talk more about this in a minute... but it's during these little sessions that you'll do negatives or the band pushups.
Negative reps during the pushup are when you go down really slow towards the ground. This is called the eccentric phase the pushup.
Dozens of studies have shown the eccentric phase will cause the muscle the most strain and this stimulates strength gains... big time!
Here's what you should do:
Get your stack out so you know how low you have to go.
Start with just 3 seconds and go down to your stack and count a slow 3 seconds.
Do 5 sets of 6 reps.
Or better go until your arms and chest muscles are exhausted.
Experiment tyring to go slower, or as slow as you can.
It wont take long to get to this point and the benefits are going to be huge if you stay consistent with doing these negatives.
7. Real Pushups With Your Stack
You will get to the point where you can do a pretty good pushup from the ground... down to your stack... even if your stack is relatively high.
Practice all of the same key tips you've read to this point:
Shoulders over your hands if not a little past them.
Twist your hands into the ground.
Keep your core engaged.
Squeeze your butt and legs
Move your body as one solid piece as best you can.
Do as many good reps as you can.
When you start to really struggle or your form falls apart... stop doing pushups from the ground and move up to a box or your rings.
Over the decades of training... I seen women not willing to go to a box for pushups.
They think it makes them look weak.
They stay on the ground and suffer through pushups with bad form. Each rep reinforces bad form. This is going to make getting the right muscles stronger... much harder.
And you'll end up taking a lot longer to get good at pushups.
Plus you'll eventually have to reset your form altogether because you'll plateau quickly... and you'll have to start from square one all over a again.
When your form falls apart on the ground... move up to a box. You will improve so much FASTER!
Two more ideas about getting good at pushups I want you to think about.
Get Strong With Endurance
Endurance typically means doing high reps.
So get your stack out and set it on a high level.
Now try to get as many great reps as you can.
You're not only working your muscle endurance... endurance being the ability of your muscles to keep "repping" out and not get as tired.
But as you near the end when things get really hard... you're also working on strength.
Science has shown again and again that as long as you're getting your muscles close to exhaustion you will stimulate an adaptation response.
That means getting stronger.
Get Strong With Pure Strength
Let's do the opposite.
Get your stack and put it on a low level that is really going to challenge you.
Now do 3 to 5 perfect reps down to this level. Do this for about 5 to 6 sets.
Now you're working more pure strength.
It's easier in a sense to do because you won't have to fight muscles that burn like crazy... plus it's usually faster to complete.
Use both of these methods when training your pushups. One is not necessarily better than the other.
To Get Really Good at Pushups - Make Training Sessions
Okay... now you know how to get great at pushups. Not just good.
But the key is to practice with mini-training sessions.
Here's how I would do this.
Take 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of your workout... or at the end... play with it and find out what works better for you.
This is when you will do deliberate pushup practice to improve.
Here's what a little mini-session might look like.
10 knee pushups to practice elbows in
3 x 8 perfect ring or box pushups
5 x 6 negative pushups as slow down as you can go... try to time it
That is a good mini-session right there.
If you want help and personalized coaching to help with your pushups and any other exercise... go learn about FWW LIVE, our LIVE online fitness program .
Go Get Great at Pushups!
You have the knowledge and the programming to start with beginner pushups and get all the way down to floor pushups .
The key to do little practice sessions at least 3 to 4 times per week.
Doing small sessions will out perform doing long sessions all the time.
You'll recover faster...
You'll improve faster...
You'll get encouraged...
You'll believe in yourself becuase you'll see the success.
Once you start believing in yourself... things get a lot easier.
Make sure you go check out some of my other pushup posts... I have a lot of them.
Go follow me on my social accounts and let me know how you're doing. Share some picture and tag me!