It’s hard thinking about something I love more than the community we’ve created with Good // Sweat over the years. The best thing to come out of it is our private Facebook group you get access to with either Good//Sweat 1.0 or Good//Sweat 2.0 — the support is incredible! Not to mention the progress photos and videos that get posted there are INSANE and give me inspo every day to continue working towards my own goals. But my favorite transformations to see are PUSH-UPS! Push-ups are such a foundational movement, and being confident in your push-up skills leads to so many other amazing strength building exercises. I know so many of you are already pros, but I thought it might be helpful for all of us to talk about form and just getting your pushups to be GOOD!
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN:
1. Build your core. Both strength and stability are vital to a good pushup, and your core is responsible for both. The stronger your core is, the easier it will be to hold yourself in a plank position both as you lower down and push back up. And not only is core strength important for pushups, but for life! A strong core will keep your posture in line and your form right in so many other exercises. That’s why we focus on core throughout all my fitness guides and programs.
For a core challenge, work on increasing the amount of time you can hold a high plank. Once a week, challenge yourself to 5 minutes of plank and break it up — maybe you start by holding plank for 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off for 5 minutes. Over time your holding time can increase and rest time decrease. Make it your goal to hold it for a minute straight before taking a rest!
2. Chest, arms, and shoulders also play a big role in your pushup game, so take some time to strength train each muscle group every week. Over time you can increase your weight or your reps to see a difference in your strength levels – some basic moves for you to try would be chest press, bicep curls, overhead press, plank walkouts, and rows! Another form tip is to point your elbows back diagonally at 45 degrees instead of straight out to either side of you. Your hands are at chest level, fingers pointed forward, and when you press your body off the floor you want to push your shoulders down and away from your ears.
3. Modify! The only way to perfect is through practice, so even if you’re not ready for a full-on pushup, there are so many ways to make it more accessible for every fitness level. I’d recommend starting out with just a few reps and increasing gradually over time. You don’t want to burn anything out when you’re working on perfecting your form! Start simple. Try incline pushups against a wall or against a bench or chair. Keep your back straight, palms near chest level, and push up just as would in a standard push-up. Next progression is dropping your knees to the floor in a standard or incline push-up position. This will help you focus on your form and upper body strength without your entire body weight to push up at once. Moving on to lay-down push-ups. If you do my programs, you know I love these for building push-up strength! Start on your tummy, hands at chest level, knees glued to the mat. Push up, lifting your chest and hips at the same time (keeping your back straight) and extend your arms all the way. On the way back down, go slow and controlled until your tummy reaches your mat once again. Repeat, then move on to lifting your knees up off the ground like a standard lay-down push-up. There is no shame in modifying so do it as much as you need to feel confident in your push-up game before you progress!
4. This might sound weird but recording yourself or watching in a mirror is one of the best tools you can have in the gym. It’s amazing to have pictures and videos for the sake of watching yourself progress, but also to analyze form. If you take a video of yourself doing a pushup (or any exercise for that matter) you’ll be able to determine — are my elbows pointing back? Is my body moving in one straight line? It helps so much, trust me!
5. Repetition, lots of practice, and confidence. DO NOT skim over this step because believing in yourself is sooo important when it comes to accomplishing your goals. Make your goal (in this case: a solid pushup) your priority. Lots of practice, lots of reps, lots of trial and error to find that sweet spot of a challenge mixed with motivation to nail whatever you’re after. If you believe you can do it YOU WILL! I promise, and so do all the girls in the Facebook page who are showing off their pushups and now even their pistol squats! It took me a few years to really feel confident in nailing push-ups consecutively. It’s all about practice over time.
I hope these pointers were helpful and leave you feeling inspired to bust out some pushups whether you feel like a beginner or you’re ready to start adding extra resistance with your Rec Sweat power band 🙂 catch my next Good // Sweat insta live workout and let’s work on these together! xx Rachael