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When I see someone else doing push ups, it seems so easy. I have tried doing it myself many times, but I find it very hard.

Is there a gradual step by step process to learn how to do push ups?

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2 Answers 2

Well, doing a push up aint so hard :) If doing a proper push up is too difficult for you, try changing the leverage.

When doing a push up flat on the ground, youre lifiting a certain % of your body weight. If you lift your chest, arms and head higher, you change the leverage, so you will be lifting a lower % of your body mass, and doing the push-up will be easier.

You can start with wall push-ups:

enter image description here

And eventually you could try incline push-ups:

incline push up

Once youre really comfortable with incline push ups, you can reduce the incline, till you start doing regular push ups. When regular push ups become too easy, you may start doing decline push ups.

Another option is to work on holding a plank position, from either your elbows or your knees. This will assist your push-up strength.

Just remember always to exercise with proper form!

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Also, if needed, a person can do even greater inclines to reduce the strength required. For instance, pushups against a wall or counter top. –  DavidR May 20 '13 at 13:46
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should we spell out what "proper form" means? to me, it means doing full depth, and if you can't make it all the way down, increasing the incline until you can. –  DavidR May 20 '13 at 14:12
    
@DavidR Take a swing at editing it. I think that phrase needs more explanation, but I'd rather not make the perfect the enemy of the good. If someone does wall push-ups with bad form for a few months before figuring out good form, I don't think there's a problem. –  Dave Liepmann May 20 '13 at 16:28
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I would add that in addition to the above, you can also try assisted push-ups from your knees. –  Moses May 20 '13 at 19:11
    
Thanks for the valueable edits guys! –  K.L. May 20 '13 at 21:44
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When I see someone else doing push ups, it seems so easy. I have tried doing it myself many times, but I find it very hard.

It is hard. That's why they're worth doing!

Is there a gradual step by step process to learn how to do push ups?

There are many ways to learn to do more pushups. Anything that you try will almost certainly help.

Here's a (somewhat comical) technique that I've used that my students seem to enjoy:

  1. Start in the pushup position. Specifically, the pushup position that works for you. That might be knees touching the ground or knees straight, feet together or apart. Whatever works for you. The important part is that you're up and using the right muscles.
  2. Now wait for a while. In class, this is where I blab on and on about "why are you complaining? We haven't even done a single pushup yet?" You muscles will begin to feel tired.
  3. Now lower to the point where your elbows are at right angles. This is as far as you need to go for pushups.
  4. Now wait again. In class, this is where the moaning starts. "You're complaining about doing a half a pushup?!"
  5. Now return to start.

Congrats! You did a single pushup. Big deal, right?

Actually, yes, it is a big deal. Here are some of the things that this teaches you:

  1. The correct position (that works for you). You shouldn't be falling over, you shouldn't be wrenching your back, etc. Pushups will seem to get easier as you come to believe that you can keep your balance.
  2. To breath (that's what those waiting times are for). Holding your breath is terrible for this sort of exercise. You have to get that carbon dioxide out. When I'm doing this with my class, I'm yelling encouragement at them the whole time. You should feel free to yell whatever seems appropriate (i.e., foul language is encouraged ;-).
  3. The correct transition (that, again, works for you). Don't go too far as (a) it's not worth it and (b) it'll be too hard to get back up.
  4. That you can do one pushup. Confidence is critical: if you can do one, you can do two. Maybe not right this minute, maybe later today but it can be done (proof by existence).

Caveat: We each have our individual limitations and you'll have to find out what those are and adapt to them. For example, I really shouldn't do the palm pushups illustrated in this answer. The twisting and flexing wrists make my hands sore when I try to type and use the mouse. Since that's how I make my living, I only rarely do palm pushups.

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