Still Can’t Do Push Ups? Here’s Why

Push ups are an awesome, functional exercise for building upper body strength, core stability and balance.

They can feel very tough in the early stages while getting your technique right, often leading to poor form or you giving up before getting any better.

If you’re still struggling despite working so hard, here are some solutions for improving performance.

Problem 1: Lack of strength

Not having adequate strength across the board can lead to a disappointing effort.

Many people assume that only upper body strength is needed for these, but the truth is you need to build a good foundation with your legs and core, too.

Include a variety of exercises into your routine to work on your strength and stability, such as:

  • Squats
  • Planks
  • Chest press
  • Rows
  • Tricep press

Performing both dynamic and static (moving and holding) exercises with these muscle groups can massively increase your push up performance.

Also read: Top 10 Strength Training Myths Busted

Problem 2: Incorrect hand placement

Get into position either on your knees or toes, hands flat on the floor and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Place your shoulders directly over your hands and straighten your arms.

Aim to put the pressure of the weight on the outside of your hands; have your fingers positioned so that your middle finger sits straight up and then grip the floor.

Problem 3: Poor form

Extend your legs straight out behind you, engage your core and butt with your feet together.

Keep your head and neck in line with your body, so that you’re looking down towards the floor. Avoid looking up or towards your feet.

Lower your body down, bending your elbows out and pointed slightly back, until your body is nearly touching the floor. Your spine should be neutral.

Push up away from the floor, straightening your arms, until you have returned to the starting position without locking out your elbows.

Problem 4: Trouble performing a good rep

Slow down your reps and control each one!

Work on variations of the push up while you build up your strength and perfect your technique.

Progressions through the movement can look like:

  • Wall push ups
  • Knee push ups
  • Elevated Push ups
  • Negative push ups  (focus on the lowering)
  • Full push ups
  • Advanced variations

Problem 5: Blow-out

It’s all about quality versus quantity. Take your time to get one immaculate push up (yes, one!) before you attempt multiple push ups.

By concentrating on each rep being full range and controlled, you will build up much quicker than if you cheat with shady- looking ones!

And finally, remember that practice makes perfect!

Louise McDonald, Cert III & Cert IV Fitness
Louise has been a Trainer and Wellness Coach for almost 20 years and is one of our experienced Support Crew members in Fitness, as our Lean and Strong Captain! Louise has worked passionately with all levels of fitness over the years across both Australia and the UK, where she has specialised in competition training with athletes for the last decade. She has worked closely with top level competitors and even our own 12WBT peeps to bring home a National Trophy! She lives, breathes, eats and sleeps weight training and is super passionate about teaching others how to reach their full potential.

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