In P90x, almost every weightlifting day incorporates pushups, pullups, or both exercises. These moves are great because they are body weight exercises. They not only will improve your upper body strength, but also your core muscle strength.
Many people struggle with pushups and pullups, so I wanted to give you some tips on form, modifications, and ways to improve. Today I’m going to start with pushup form, and I’ll save pullups for another post. Pushups are especially great because you can literally do them anywhere — no equipment required!
Start with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. When you are in the up position (like a straight arm plank), your shoulders should be over your hands.Your hands should be in a comfortable position, which for me is with the fingers facing forward. If this hand position bothers your wrists, you can try pushups on your knuckles (with a soft surface underneath!), or use dumbbells as supports. From the top of your head to your feet should be a straight line. It is key to not let your butt hang low or be up too high — Try focusing on tightening up your glutes and abs through the whole exercise. Be cautious not to look up or tuck your chin to your chest — remember your body should be in a straight line. Put your feet at a comfortable distance apart. The further apart they are, the more stable you will be.
Completing the Pushup
In a slow and controlled way, lower your body, while keeping it straight head to toe, your arms are bent to 90 degrees or more. I like to lower until my chest barely touches the floor. Once you have reached the lowered position, pause for a moment, then use push back up to the starting position.
If the full pushup is too hard for you, it can be modified by placing your knees on the floor. Over time as you gain strength, you should be able to do pushups on your feet. Another alternative is do incline pushups. This is where your hands are up on something stable rather than on the floor (like a table or a park bench). As you progress, you can find lower items to be elevated on, slowly progressing toward regular pushups.
There are many many forms of pushups you can do including wide, narrow, diamond, decline, hands or feet on medicine balls, or plyometric to name a few. Try doing some of each type if you can already do standard pushups. Challenge yourself!
Here are just a few workout ideas:
1) Do as many pushups in a row as you can until your form starts to break down. For example, your butt might begin to sag, your elbows are flaring out wide, or you are really struggling to push up. That is one set. Do 3-4 sets. Take a minute or two rest between sets.
2) Follow the 100-pushups plan
3) Try a pushup streak — do a couple sets of pushups every day for a month. You will be amazed how much you improve!
Up Next: Pull-ups!