Updated: May 4, 2020
The Push Up
The push up is one of the most common movements you will see in a gym. It’s a body weight movement that can be performed absolutely anywhere. It helps build back, arms, shoulders, chest and abdominal muscles. These are just a couple of reasons why the push up is so favoured in fitness.
Whether you wish to get stronger, build mass or get ripped, the push up can definitely be used effectively. Here are a few examples of some excellent push up progression programs.
Push Up Test
First of all begin with finding out your true push up strength. To do this you will have to do a push up test.
To start, let’s make sure you have the correct technique. Begin with your hands just outside the shoulder, make sure core is engaged so it’s similar to a plank position. When going down make sure to keep your arms tucked into the body and all your muscles tense. For a full repetition your chest must hit the ground and the arms must be fully locked out when pushing up.
The push up test it’s self is very simple. You perform as many FULL repetitions as you can until you can no longer complete one FULL rep. I emphasise it being a full rep as people tend to cheat and start not locking out or hitting the floor. This will just not give you a true test result. If you can not perform at least 5 full reps, then go straight to the beginners program and do your push ups from the knee position. Sometimes people categorise push up test results into gender and age but I like to just use the same spectrum for everybody. If you complete between 5 and 20 reps on your test, then move onto the beginners program. 21-50 reps move onto the 100 push ups program and finally 50+ reps move onto the ultimate push up program.
Push Up Training Plan For Beginners
Here is my push up training plan for beginners. It’s a simple plan and can be used by anyone from beginners to the advanced. This workout can be completed anytime during the day, however, I recommend first thing in the morning when you’re fresh. Simply complete 3 sets of max reps, giving around 2 minutes rest between each set. Do this workout 5 days a week, giving yourself a block of 2 days off when best suits you. Keep a note of your reps to see your progression.
I did this program last year and it worked very well for me. I completed my 3 sets in the morning before breakfast and did it Monday to Friday. I ran the program for around 8 weeks, afterwards I give myself 1 week off and then completed a push up test. I had gone from a score of 51 to 70, which was a satisfactory improvement for me.
Another great thing about this program, even if you have to push up from a knee position, you can still use it. A lot of people struggle at first with normal push ups, so completing this program from your knees could be a fantastic way to begin.
100 Push Ups Program
I wouldn’t suggest this workout for people who are new to fitness, as it’s very taxing on your muscles. Due to the amount of push ups it can also leave you fatigued and drained, if you aren’t use to this much exercise.
There are many different 100 push up programs out there, I am going to write about a common one that I’ve seen be very effective in my gym. Once again it’s completed 5 days a week, however I would recommend staggering your 2 days of rest. The basis of this workout is to complete 100 push ups everyday, it can be anytime throughout the day. Simply complete max rep sets of push ups with 60 seconds of rest in between each set. Once the full 100 reps is complete then you are done for the day.
It’s suggested that people complete this workout program until they can do the full 100 push ups in 1 set. I would normally recommend the same, however for some people this could take months and months. I would say after 12 weeks if you haven’t reached 100 push ups in a single set, that you take a break from the program for 2-4 weeks.
Ultimate Push Up Challenge
This is the most advanced challenge I will be writing about. I would recommend only people who can complete 50 reps, without failure, should complete this program.
This workout is to be performed 4 days a week with staggered rest days. Ideally you should be working out Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with the other days as rest days. It starts similar to the 100 push up challenge but after the 100 push ups is completed, there is a 1 minute plank hold. Now time for the fun part. Every week you add 10 push ups and 10 seconds to the plank. You must also be aware that the plank and push ups can be broken up to as many sets as possible. The sets must be max effort sets however and no more than 30-40 seconds rest in between sets.
The craziness about this workout is that after 10 weeks you’ll be completing 200 push ups followed by 2 minutes and 40 seconds of planking. Be aware that due to the volume, this program could have a significant effect on your usual training. After 10 weeks have up to 7 days with no push ups and perform a re-test. You will be amazed at how much you improve.
Push Up Workout Benefits
All of these programs will have amazing benefits for fitness and strength. Not only will you increase strength in the push up but it will translate over to most other exercises in the gym. They can be great tools for breaking a plateau on bench press or shoulder press. Push up training for mass is used commonly in gyms and any of these programs will also help you build size.
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