First of all, I do not know a single person who cannot make 10 or 15 pushups. People are looking at pushups as some form of punishment.
Thanks to the military movies out there, we all know the saying “drop and give me 10/20/30” or whatever number the captain might come out with.
What you need to start seeing is that pushups are the best core workout exercise you can find, this side of the plank.
And while the plank is more static exercise, the pushup is a dynamic exercise that works not only your arms but your shoulders, torso, abdomen, and the entire core.
The secret to a good push up is to engage your entire body and think of the exercise as a moving plank.
The biggest mistake people do when performing a pushup is trying to lift themselves up using only their arms. It can’t be done.
You might succeed doing one or two pushups this way, but unless you are not using your entire core to lift yourself up, you won’t get far.
For this 30-day pushup challenge, you only need to do 10 to 15 pushups per day. And in order to make it easier, you start with your hands positioned on a bench/couch or anything that will get your hands elevated.
The first set is the hardest one, with the most reps, while the second and the third set require fewer and fewer repetitions.
You can take a break between each set, and the whole challenge will take 5 to 10 minutes per day.
Bear in mind, your goal is to do proper pushups, not just count repetitions for the sake of the count. And there are rest days, one every fifth day (except for the final five days when you have your rest day on the fourth day).
The 30-day push-up challenge starts with fewer than 10 pushups the first day. You are doing three sets, the first with the most repetitions (5, then 3 and then 1).
For the first 10 days, you are doing only incline push-ups, and you are adding one repetition to a set.
After four days, you get a rest. For the second 10 days, you are adding one-floor pushups set, with the fewest repetitions, with your third set having the most repetitions.
For the last 10 days, you are doing two-floor push-up sets, and one inclines push-up set, with the incline pushups requiring the most repetitions. If you feel it is easy for you, add more repetitions.
How to do a Proper Push-Up?
I said that the goal of the challenge is to help you make 15 proper pushups at the end of it.
There are common mistakes people make, and we will get to that in a minute. But let’s examine what is the proper push-up form?
Think of the pushup as a moving plank. The first thing you need to do is position your arms little wider than shoulder range.
Before you go down, slow for a two to three-second contraction to feel the muscle group you are targeting.
You want to start all the way down the floor, with your whole body nearly touching at the floor and pushing all the way up.
Keep your body stiff and straight at all times. When you are going down and/or pushing up, you must pay attention to the alignment of the elbows, with the ideal angle being 45 degrees.
The ideal angle allows to work your chest muscles and prevent injuries in the process.
Regarding breathing, you breathe in on the way down, and you breathe out on the way up.
Push-Up Mistakes Everyone Does
I told you that everyone makes mistakes, so let’s take a look at some of the common mistakes people do when they try the push-up.
- Rising butt is a common mistake, showing that you are not engaging the entire core. Squeeze the cheeks of your butt together, raise your back and lower your butt.
- The second mistake is people are not doing pushups with a straight back, and their back looks like a hammock. Make sure to raise your low back while you are tilting your pelvic bones to achieve straight back.
- One of the questions many people ask is what to do with their head? The problem is people are keeping their head way too close to the chest during the push-up. One way to do is imagine an orange-sized space between your upper chest and chin, and that is exactly how much space you want to relieve pressure from the neck muscles. You can look either down, which is easier, or forward.
- Last but not least, the problem almost everyone makes from time to time is holding breath. As mentioned, you must breathe on the way down, and breathe out on the way up. Otherwise, you will be out of breath halfway to the set
As mentioned at the beginning, for the 30-day push-up challenge you will be doing floor and incline pushups. And while you start with the inclined pushups, I like to explain the floor push-up first.
To perform a floor push-up, you want your hands on the floor about two feet apart, with your toes forming a strong plank.
Key points to remember: engaged abs, elbows back on an angle, tight glutes, breathing. As you move down, your shoulder blades should squeeze together, and your chest should be few inches above the floor.
When pushing up, engage your entire core, exhale, and press yourself back up.
The incline push-up is almost the same as the floor push-up, with the sole difference your hands are placed on a bench, the edge of the couch or any surface that is solid enough and high enough to elevate your hands from the ground.
All the key points to remember apply here as well.
When going down, you are lowering towards the bench, and you hold your elbows back. In order to get into plank position, you must come up on your toes.
When you are pressing, stop at the point when your elbows are at the right angle of 45 degrees.
You are done when you the chest hovers an inch or two above the edge of the bench.
How to Maximize Pushups
For those of you who want an extra kick or more pressure for their pushups, I’ve got some tips to help you maximize your pushup.
Here are some tweaks you can use.
- Pull in your belly button while in plank position, which will help you contract the deepest inner transverse of your abdominal muscles.
- Kegel squeeze is another way to maximize the pressure on your abdominal muscles. Women are fairly familiar with the term, while for men, the simplest explanation is trying to stop in the middle of the flow while urinating. Or the more complex explanation: draw your lower pelvic muscles up and hold them high and tight.
- Alter the placement of the hands. While the standard position is an inch or two wider than shoulder width, you can go wider if you want more pressure and engage more muscles on your chest, arms and shoulders.
- Putting your hands on an exercise ball will force you to engage your core at all times to keep you balanced. The ball shifts and in or order to stay in balance, you must engage your entire core.
- By lifting one leg your glutes will be more engaged, and your core will be more challenged.