Still Can’t Do Push Ups? Here’s Why

Fitness // Louise McDonald

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!

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