Pushups for Women - The Ultimate Progression
I ask my members every couple months...
What do you want to get better at?
What would make you feel like a total badass?
And the answer is always pushups... even if they're really good at pushups... it's still pushups.
I get it.
Being able to knockout 30 to 50 straight pushups... it's pretty awesome. It feels great.
Pushups are tough for most women. We naturally have less muscle mass available in our upper body.
But that doesn't mean you can't learn to knock them out like crazy.
I'm going to show you the ultimate pushup progression for women... plus how to train correctly so you don't overtrain and take it too far.
Pushups for Women... Going Through The Progression
We need strength.
And we need endurance.
Let's start with...
Start with box pushups.
But you don't need a box. You can use...
- The back of the couch.
- You're countertop.
- You're kitchen table.
- A desk.
- The edge of the bath tub.
- Your stairs are great too.
Anything that can elevate your body.
Start at a level where you can knock out 10 great reps but reps 7... 8... 9... and 10 are really hard... but still doable.
Go to a higher level... experiment... and see if you can knock out 20 straight. See if you can find a level where this is possible.
We're practicing strength and endurance.
Make sure you keep:
- Your body straight...
- Lock your legs...
- Tighten your core...
- And keep your chest between between your hands.
Keep your chest between your hands... this is key.
I'll show you a more detailed training plan at the bottom.
I am not a fan of knee pushups... except for one reason...
They're great for helping you learn to keep your elbows in and back.
If you're not practicing keeping your elbows back... do your pushups off a box or chair.
You want your elbows 45 degrees or less from your shoulder line.
Your chest has to be between if not past your hands. This is key and the most difficult part of pushups to learn.
Here's what NOT to do with knee pushups. I see this a lot when clients are starting out...
We have talked a lot about negatives on this blog.
So let's start using them with our box pushups and knee pushups.
I won't make it sound all rosy... negatives are not only:
- Physically hard...
- But they're slow...
- Kinda boring...
- And make your workouts last longer.
But if you use them... you will get stronger. Period.
Negative reps will greatly increase the speed of your pushup improvement.
Let's shoot for a minimum of a 6 second negative. Try to get it up to 10 if you can.
Pushup Progression With Bonus Equipment
Before I give you a plan... I want to talk about some pieces of equipment that can help.
You might not have all of these... but if you belong to a gym... you'll have tools that can help you speed up the process.
I LOVE using rings for pushups.
Rings allow you you to go as high and low as you want. The full range of motion.
Keep track of how far you step out.
Every couple of weeks... back it up more and more until you're doing full ring pushups.
But there's more!
Rings are also great because they help you keep your elbows close to your body.
You get the feeling of what your floor pushups should feel like.
And guess what?
You can and should do negatives on the rings as well.
If you have access to a bar and a rig... you're in luck.
You can do bar pushups.
Like the rings you can go as high and low as you want. So you have the full range of motion available to you.
Plus the bar is a great option if you have weak wrists .
But don't worry your wrists will get stronger as you progress.
At the bottom of your pushup from the bar... your chest should be past (or over) the bar.
This is a hard variation to do if you don't have a rig and a quality band.
If you have a gym membership... you should have these tools.
Put the band about two feet above the ground... around the rig like this:
- Place the band over your hip bones.
- Do pushups off the ground... let the band help you back up.
- Keep your body straight and engaged the full time.
Don't let the band do all the work... it can help but you want the push to feel hard still.
Hard but doable. This is a key phrase in all fitness training.
Play with different band strengths as well as the distance from the ground.
I've used this technique to help dozens of clients become total pushup badasses. It works!
Kettlebells and/or Dumbbells
Grab two kettlebells or dumbbells... even one of each.
You are going to start doing floor presses.
It's the same pushing motion... and floor presses are great for arm and shoulder strength as well as stability.
Pushup Mix Ins
Real fast... here are some other exercises to mix in that will help with your pushups.
You'll be doing a lot of pushing.
And most of us already have shortened (and tight) pec muscles from sitting all day.
So make sure you're doing some pulling exercises like rows to help counter balance all the pushing.
Most women don't do enough rows as it is... add these in.
Biceps... Triceps... and Shoulders
When you're going down in the pushup... you're technically contracting your bicep.
When you're going up in the pushup... you're contracting your tricep muscles.
So doing bicep curls... even negative curls... is not a bad idea at all.
Learn to do Tiger Cub pushups for your triceps.
Tiger Cubs are essentially a bodyweight tricep extension exercise.
Finally your shoulders are the linch pin.
Your shoulders are full of small muscles that get fatigued fast. So you need to strengthen them.
Go for shoulder - rotator cuff - contraction exercise. Sorry no cool name here.
But the rotator cuff muscles are weak on most men and women... strengthen these and your pushups will improve fast.
The Pushup Training Plan
This isn't going to be a hardcore training plan.
It's more of how to work a progression into your normal workouts so you can incrementally improve.
First things first...
This isn't a 30 day thing.
You need to always be working on pushups.
That said... if you really practice... I think you can get to 20 straight in 3 months or so.
That's just a guess. But it's reasonable.
Commit to quality reps and getting better slowly.
Over the years of training thousands of women... I've seen women rush the process and use poor form...
They never improve.
Take your medicine. Use a box or rings and master each level of your pushups.
Not only will it pay off... it usually speeds up the process too.
Let's start here:
- Start with 40 perfect pushups per day.
- 10 extra pushups negatives... 8 seconds or slower.
- If possible... add in some rows just to keep your body balanced.
Do this for two weeks. Listen to your body. If you're really sore... take a rest day.
Also make sure your stretching and trigger balling your shoulders and peck muscles.
Read this post if you need help with how to use trigger balls .
Take one week off after these two weeks... one week off of this plan... not working out.
- Bump up to 60 perfect pushups per day.
- 20 lower than you did before.
- 20 normal at the level you're using.
- 20 negative pushups... 6 seconds down.
- Keep doing rows for balance.
Break up your pushups throughout the day. You don't have to do them all at once.
Also keep stretching and making sure you're working on opening your shoulders.
When you do your negatives... try to do them as low as you can. But if you get sloppy with your form... raise the level.
Do this for two weeks and take one week of pushup rest after you're done.
Remember to focus on quality.
- Bump up to 100 pushups throughout the day.
- 20 lower than before.
- 40 normal... hopefully a lower level.
- 20 FAST pushups... work on explosiveness and speed.
- 20 negative pushups... 6 seconds down.
Remember to break this up evenly over the day.
Do this for two weeks and then take a week off.
Assess how you're progressing. Ask yourself two questions...
Are you staying near perfect on your form?
Are you trying to go lower... or staying in your comfort zone?
This Is A Long Term Plan
You need to keep working on this to get better.
After step 4... take a month off.
Then go back to step 1 but make your reps harder.
- Go lower.
- On your negatives... add a weight vest.
- Try going down really slow and coming back up really slow.
Make sure you do pushups regularly and you push your comfort zone.
You'll get to the point where you can knock out perfect pushups on the ground...
20... 30... maybe even 50 straight.
If I can do it... you can do it.
When you're ready you can start learning the more advanced pushup variations .
If you have any questions hit me up on social. Use the contact form too.
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