Simple pushup program

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This simple pushup program should fit everyone from absolute beginners to advanced athletes. It can be used anywhere, on vacations, if time or equipment is lacking etc. I have successfully used it a few times on long trips where I was not able to find a regular gym. It is not in any way inspiring or that fun – but it gets the job done and gives a very good upper body workout.

I will not go into minute detail on how to perform pushups. But keep these things in mind.

  • Keep body tense and straight
  • Keep abs and but thight
  • Keep chin tucked – look straight down

Apart from your arms and shoulder pushing, NOTHING else should move. This should not be confused with relaxing the rest of the body, you should keep it tight. Do not lead with the head and look up, since this will break the straight body and force it into an arch.

For a regular military pushup you fingers should be just below your shoulder when in the bottom position, and the palm of your hand thereby just behind your shoulder, fingers pointing forward. 

Narrow pushup is when you turn your fingers about 45 degrees inward and then move the hands together until the thumbs and pointing fingers meet to form a triangle or diamond(these are therefore also called diamond pushups).

For wide grip pushups start flat on the floor, hands in military-position as described above. Move each of the hands minimum 2 hands-widths directly out/away from the body and turn you fingers and hands 45-60 degrees outwards. You can go wider than this, but this would be the minimum before it is considered “wide”. 

These are the 3 basic hand-positions for the pushup. Now how do we scale the pushup, since your bodyweight will pretty much stay the same. By means of leverage! Easiest to do is on the knees – this may be required by quite a lot when doing the diamond pushup, since it is very intense. You can also have your feet on the floor and do the pushup on a low table or a bench. But you will quite quickly be able to do them flat on the floor. From here you can elevate your feet which may give you a few more steps of intensity, but this aswell will run out at some point. 

Then what you do is move your hands further down, closer to your hips. This can be done both for military, narrow and wide grip pushups. When you get to this level I would start flat on the floor with my feet up against a wall, and then I would mark where I positioned my hands. Then when I got stronger I would move the hands one cm closer to the wall, mark this position and go from there. Just that little cm of change in leverage will yield an amazing effect on the strengt required to perform the pushup with good form.

Then as you progress and get’s stronger you can move your hands closer and closer to the wall. And yes it is actually possible to do pushups with your hands all the way down by your hips – but it takes years of practice. 

The actual program goes like this:

Narrow day

50-60 reps military

25-30 reps narrow

Wide day

50-60 reps military

25-30 reps wide

If you decided to train this 3 times a week, which I would recommend. The 2 first weeks would look like this:

Week 1

Monday: Narrow

Wednesday: Wide

Friday: Narrow

Week 2

Monday: Wide

Wednesday: Narrow

Friday: Wide

Week 3

repeat week 1 etc.

Then how do you go about attaining the 50-60 reps military. You are not supposed to do them all in one set, if you are able to do so. You should aim to scale the type of military pushup you are doing, so that each set will consist of anywhere between 8 to 15 reps. You should not be going all out in each set, leave one or to reps in the tank when you stop. When for instance you are able to consistently bang out 15 reps for 4 sets on regular military, then next time you move up against a wall and move your hands a little closer to your waist. If you are only able to bang out 4 reps, you moved to close aim at being close to 8 as a minimum. 

On the 25-30 reps narrow or wide you go at it with the same mindset, only that here your optimal range for each set would be 4-8 reps per set. Adjust intensity to get you into that range.

By doing this you should pretty consistently be able to measure progress. If you for instance the first day, week 1 in military banged out 12 – 11 – 11 – 10 – 8. Then day 3 in first week bangs out 13 – 12 – 10 – 10 – 9 guess what – you just got stronger. You can measure your progress both by making the exercise harder and by banging out more reps than previous. 

If you reach a point where you no longer makes progress, take the previous week and cut it in half. Meaning that your target rep ranges, has just been cut in half, and using the above example  12 – 11 – 11 – 10 – 8 you would this week only do 6 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 4. This goes for both milirtary and narrow/wide. You do this in order to cut the intensity and give your body a break. You could do this every 4-6 weeks but as everyone are different and some beginners have greater potential than others, I would leave it in the book until progress stalls.

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