Upper body strength is often the area people feel less confident in, and even more so with push ups. There are ways to build up the strength gradually so that you are always achieving something, not just struggling along every time their done in your gym or class. Push ups make an integral part of your strength training and can be done anywhere so it’s worth getting on board with them as they may appear in a lot of home workouts!

Why do we do push ups?

Push ups are an excellent all-round upper body exercise that you can do with no equipment at all. Usually upper body exercises require some form of weight to load it properly. You can read more about how pilates can help your strength training here. They work the chest, shoulders, arms, and even get in to the core. Plus, their so functional because so many activities involve pushing and using our whole upper body. Push ups are a great way to monitor your upper body strength and stamina.

Plus- they never get old! Even once you can do them comfortably there is always another way to mix them up to continue the challenge. Follow these “How to build it up” steps to progress, and then see the next section below on “How to mix it up further” for lots of ways to make your push up workout harder and stronger.

Here’s how to build it up:

1) Hovers

Start on your hands and knees with shoulders above wrists and hips above knees. From here push in to both hands and feet and hover your knees a few inches off of the floor. Hold here for 5 seconds, then lower back down.

2) Leg pull in prone (high plank position)

Start in the position above in the hover exercise. From there push through your toes and extend forwards so that you move through the hands. Keep your chest lifted throughout and imagine you are trying to push yourself away from the ground as much as possible.

3) Side planks

These are great for developing single arm strength and tapping in to the oblique core muscles (the side muscles). Push up on to a straight arm and extended legs. Keep shoulder blades drawn back behind you. Squeeze inner thighs together and keep lower hip and waist lifted.

4) Knee push ups

Begin bending through the elbows and lowering your thighs, hips, and chest towards the floor. Keep the back straight as you lower. Once you can’t lower any further push back up through the hands until the elbows are straight.

5) Full push ups

Keep the body straight and bend through the elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Ensure that the hips and chest come down together so that you don’t arch your lower back.

6) Full with leg lifts

Repeat the same position as above (No.5) and squeeze the buttocks on one side to lift one leg upwards a few inches. Hold for around 5 seconds, then lower down and repeat with the opposite leg.

How to mix it up further:

1) Hold the position once you have pressed down towards the floor, so your nose is inches from the floor.

2) Make them in to a combination: Go straight from a push up round in to the side plank, then back to the front to do a push up, then turn to side plank to the other side.

3) Do each push up super slow……

4) This is the best one!! Work through the progressions above X 10 of each from 1) easy to 6) hard! Then reverse and go through them from hard to easy X 10 each! Good luck!

Remember to stretch your chest and arm muscles out afterwards like in this full post on upper body stretches, and if you are going to do this regularly you need to incorporate some back work to balance your upper body out and avoid getting rounded shoulders!