- Are you interested in becoming a push-up machine?
- Do you want a fitness and strength program that will transform your training and crossover to your sport and life?
- Are you wanting to develop real “Go” muscle and have the physical look to go with it?
Leveraging the push-up to build your strength is one of the smartest things you can do in terms of your body. Let’s face it, any weak link that exists in your upper body and trunk will be exposed with the almighty push-up. Having been coaching now for nearly 20 years I can tell you firsthand that 90% or more of the people in the general public that tell me they do hundreds of push-ups regularly for their training never do the first one correctly. Assuming you are proficient with the push-up today I’m going to show you 5 ways to ramp up your push-up game with the following strategies.
Become A Push-up Machine
I’ve got to be honest. I’m sitting here writing this on an early Saturday morning as I’m drinking my coffee. I’m at a local coffee shop that I frequently visit and I’m looking around the room and it’s just me and the staff. It’s the Saturday before Memorial Day and it’s quiet.
It just occurred to me that as I’m writing this push-up article with Memorial Day on the way that there is a reason the military utilizes the push-up exercise as such a huge staple for their training. They use it to get our men and women physically prepared for life.
So as you read this on Memorial day if you haven’t already then take a moment to remember those that gave everything so that you could be right here reading this article, or doing whatever it is you’re about to go and do. That is strength.
So to start the ball rolling I’m looking at this as if you’re already on point with your push-up game. Assuming that’s the case and you bang out the reps then to give you an upgrade and to transform you into a push-up machine you’re going to want to apply these strategies.
1. Greasing the groove (GTG): If you’re looking to significantly increase your push-up strength and the number of push-ups you can perform then you want to apply the GTG strategy.
So what is GTG?
Well GTG involves you taking a sub-max number of your push-ups and practicing your push-ups by spreading the volume out throughout a given day. For instance, let’s say for the sake of argument you do a max effort test of your push-ups and you can perform 10 reps before falling on your face, or before your technique is compromised.
In order to apply the GTG instead of performing your max effort of 10 push-ups cut your volume in half and perform 5 push-ups for a given set. It’s important to know that you don’t want to train to muscular failure.
Next, spread this volume out over the course of a day. So ideally you’d want to perform 5 push-ups in the morning, 5 midday, and 5 in the evening. This gives you a total working volume of 15 push-ups which is 5 more than your max effort number.
For effective results you want to implement this strategy at least most days of the week (4 out of 7 days). As you continue to apply the GTG strategy you’ll notice that after a couple weeks that practicing 5 push-ups will become significantly easier. So at this point you’d want to increase your practice number to like 6 or 7 reps. After a few more weeks you can increase your practice number all the way to 10 (your original max effort number).
At this point you’ll be practicing three times your max effort number over the course of a day. Now you can see where GTG can take your push-up skills to the next level!
2. Slow your descent: So when it comes to building strength understand that the variables involved revolve around your control of the movement and the contraction of your muscles. To clarify this there are basically three phases involved in a muscular contraction. These include the following…
- Eccentric: The lengthening of the muscle during movement.
- Concentric: The shortening of the muscle during movement.
- Isometric: The static tension on a muscle without movement.
So when it comes to building strength you want to maximize the tension that is placed on your muscle for a given task. Tension equates to force production and force equals strength. So when it comes to producing the greatest amount of tension on a muscle during a given movement the way to do this is by emphasizing the eccentric phase during a muscular contraction.
So when it comes to your push-ups emphasize the slow descent of your push-up as you lower yourself into the base of the movement. One protocol I prefer to use for this is the 5 count protocol. To apply this from the upright push-up position simply count down from 5 as you lower yourself into the base of the push-up.
3. Change the angle of stress: One simple adjustment you can make in your push-up workout to speed up the development of your lean muscle and strength is to play with your weight distribution. So you’re looking to challenge yourself by utilizing your own body resistance?
So how can you do this? The truth is you have several options. Here are 6 that you can plug into your push-up routine right away…
- Elevate your feet up onto a bench.
- Elevate one hand up onto a medicine ball or kettlebell
- Lift one leg off of the ground to distribute more weight onto your arms.
- Add more movement by performing dive bomber or Hindu push-ups.
- Perform your push-ups on suspension rings, or suspension straps.
- Start incorporating one arm push-ups.
4. Load your push-ups: You better buckle your chinstrap and get ready to work with these variations. Of course there’s always the option to load any movement for strength and the push-up is no different. Some fast and functional ways to load your push-ups can involve the following…
- Weighted vest: A weighted vest is easy and practical and doesn’t get in your way when performing movements.
- Partner assisted resistance: If you have a training partner he or she can add resistance to your push-up by pushing on your shoulders and back during the movement. Your partner can also vary this resistance during your range of motion (ROM).
- Accommodating resistance: Another way to build strength in the push-up is through applying accommodating resistance. You can do this by adding a resistance band or even chains to your push-ups. Of course the band adds resistance as you perform the push-up, but the resistance band tensions as a result of more lengthening. Of course this changes throughout your push-up ROM so the amount of resistance changes as a result.
5. Add speed to your push-ups: Remember in step 2 I mentioned the three phases of a muscular contraction. The concentric phase is the shortening of the muscle during a given movement. It’s with this phase that I like to leverage the use of speed. This is because the goal is to address the development of speed strength. Speed strength involves speed during conditions of strength.
So the condition of strength in this case would be with you executing a plyometric push-up. Keep in mind that plyometrics are defined as movements that involve short burst rapid muscular contractions. In this case a plyometric push-up would help you to develop short burst power by producing greater speed with your push-up movement.
One simple way to do this while also preserving your joints is by performing the plyometric push-up off the side of a bench.
This particular variation will make a hell of a crossover if you happen to be involved in MMA, or other sports. It’s a great way to leverage your push-ups to produce more athletic qualities in your physical training.
Become A Push-up Machine: The Takeaway
To upgrade your push-up strength you need variation and consistency. Variation is how you create challenge within the scope of your training. Think of it like you’re tuning up a race car. You can build the car to run fast on a certain track on a certain day.
However when that day comes track conditions may change, the weather may change, new challenges may arise, and the car may be slower as a result. This is why the crew must continue to tweak and make changes to the car to make it better so that it stands a better chance of winning the race. The same goes for your strength program.
What push-up variations are you currently doing?
How many days a week do you perform push-ups?
Post up in the comments here below.
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