PUSH Yourself: How To Improve Your Push-Ups

PUSH Yourself: How To Improve Your Push-Ups

Boxers love push-ups, but push-ups can be hard. FightCamp’s Coach PJ explains how to improve your push-ups and rep count no matter your fitness level.

Published: October 21, 2021

Topics: Strength & Conditioning, Training

Author: PJ Shirdan

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or you’re new to working out at home, having proper technique is important for all exercises and drills. It can be easy to fall into bad habits and lose your form, especially when performing common exercises like push-ups, but having proper form will help reduce the possibility of injury and enhance your performance.

What are Push-Ups?

Push-ups strengthen the entire upper body, targeting the core, back, shoulders, and arms. This simple yet effective exercise is a go-to in boxing training, though many people struggle with push-ups.

FightCamp Trainer Coach PJ explains that all of us are different athletes in different phases of our personal fitness journeys. Push-ups may be simple, but they are also challenging – beginners can feel defeated and give up before even starting. Here, Coach PJ will show us some modified positions that will help you do more push-ups with better form.

Warm-Up

Never jump right into an intense workout or any set of drills without warming up first. Before you tackle push-ups, make sure to loosen up your body with some low intensity movement and stretching.

Basic Push-Up: Know Your Baseline

To improve your push-up game, Coach PJ says the first step is knowing where you’re at. Getting a baseline idea of how many push-ups you can do allows you to set reasonable goals and track your progress. Push-ups put all your body weight against the force of gravity, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle to get through just one. Practice will deliver results. As Coach PJ says, “there is no cheat way around hard work!”

To establish a baseline, set a timer for 1 minute.

  • Place your palms on the ground directly underneath your shoulders

  • Support your legs on the balls of your feet

  • Keep your back, shoulders, and legs in a straight line

  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth the entire time

  • Start your timer and do as many push-ups as you can in 1 minute

  • If you tire out before the clock runs out, that is okay; stop and rest

Now that you know where you’re at, set reasonable goals. If you were able to complete five (5) push-ups, aim for five more - then ten, then fifteen, then twenty! To help you reach your next milestone, try these modified push-up positions.

Three (3) Modifications to Improve Your Push-Ups:

Incline Push-up

Coach PJ Showing How To Do An Incline Push-Up

The incline push-up allows you to have a full range of motion without fighting against all your body weight. The incline push-up is great for developing a base.

  • Find an elevated bar, box, or bench that you can use

  • Put your hands on the incline for support

  • Keep your back and legs straight in a line

  • Perform the basic push-up

    • Bend at your elbows

    • Use your core, back, shoulders, and chest to lower your body to the incline

    • Extend your arms and drive yourself back up quickly

  • Repeat as many times as you can in 1 minute

Knee Push-up

Coach PJ Showing How To Do Knee Push-Ups

The knee push-up is great for building muscles while working on the basic push-up form.

  • Kneel and place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders

  • Keep your hips down and in line with your body

  • Engage the core

  • Be careful not to sit your hips too far back that you rely totally on your shoulders and elbows

  • Perform the basic push-up

    • Lower your body down until your chest touches the ground

    • Drive and push up as quickly as you can

  • Repeat as many times as you can in 1 minute

High Plank Hold

Coach PJ High Plank Hold

This is one of Coach PJ’s favorites. The high plank hold is great to add during core workouts and will improve your push-up form and overall strength. Don’t be surprised at how difficult this can be - sometimes you might make it only 15 seconds, sometimes you might be able to hold it for a few minutes.

  • Lay on your stomach on the floor with your hands by your shoulders with your palms down

  • Push and lift your torso up by straightening your arms

  • Keep your hands underneath the shoulders

  • Stay supported on the balls of your feet

  • Flex your legs, core, and back maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels

  • Hold the high plank position as long as you can

Improving Your Push-Up

Coach PJ Using Push-Up Risers

If you’re already doing push-ups comfortably and want to make more progress, Coach PJ suggests adding exercises like shoulder taps and reverse pull-ups into your workout regimen to increase your range of motion. He also recommends using risers, which have the added bonus of reducing the tension placed on your wrists during basic push-ups. If wrist strength is a concern, definitely check out FightCamp Trainer Flo Master’s Boxing Wrist Strengthening workout.

Remember, when you start in life, you don’t just begin running right away. You crawl, then walk, then run, until finally you can sprint full speed. Coach PJ reminds us to take our time and always track our progress!

For more ways to enhance your boxing and kickboxing training visit and subscribe to the FightCamp YouTube Channel to get the latest workouts and pro tips from real fighters like Coach PJ.

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FightCamp Trainer Coach PJ

PJ Shirdan is a FightCamp Founding Coach from the Philadelphia area. He found boxing as a way to heal and rebuild his life as he became a competitive fighter. PJ is a NASM, TRX, and USA Boxing Coach certified.

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