The Push-up Progression Plan (Get Your First Push-up!)

Trending 8 months ago

A gecko doing a push-up

Today I’m going to thief you execute your first push-up!

Yep, I cognize that sounds ace confident.

But it’s because I person a push-up progression plan that’s helped loads of clients successful our Online Coaching Program crush their first push-up. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Follow our guideline and you’ll beryllium doing “Earth Downs” successful nary time:

Text that says "Push-ups? You mean Earth Downs?"

Let’s get started.

(Oh, and if you want a free downloadable type of really to get your first push-up, which includes warm-up, progressions, and workouts, conscionable show america wherever to nonstop it!)

What’s nan Best Push-up Progression Plan?

As I talk successful nan video above, nan astir important portion of your push-up progression plan: consistency.

Yeah, I know, there’s thing excessively earth-shattering there.

But nary matter what your existent spot level is, nan champion measurement to activity towards a push-up is to train your push muscles consistently. No matter wherever you’re starting today.

This is how our friend Mason went from wall push-ups to regular push-ups, past each nan measurement to gem push-ups.

Mason earlier and after

Oh, and he mislaid for illustration 70 pounds on nan measurement too!

I’ll talk push-up variations you should commencement pinch successful nan adjacent section. Plus, we’ll wrap up today’s guideline by discussing conscionable really often you should train your push muscles.

Just remember, if you want your first push-up (and you should origin push-ups are awesome), past you’ll request to beryllium accordant pinch our push-up progression plan.



Our first extremity connected nan Push-up Progression Plan: uncovering a push-up variety for you to go comfortable with. Something you tin do astir 8-10 reps with, for astir 3-4 sets.

To start, you’ll astir apt train pinch an elevated push-up variation:

Staci doing an elevated push-up

These will beryllium easier than a regular push-up, since nan higher nan elevation, nan little of your body’s weight you’ll beryllium lifting during nan movement.

Conversely, if you were to elevate your feet, you’d really beryllium lifting much than a regular push-up:

Elevated push-ups for illustration this are a awesome measurement to bodyweight train.

Let’s supply a unsmooth breakdown of nan percent of your body’s weight lifted for different elevations of push-ups.[1]

The Percentage of Body Weight Supported by Our Hands During Push-Ups:

  • 4’ Elevated Push-up (Wall): 9%
  • 3′ Elevated Push-up (Countertop): 20%
  • 2′ Elevated Push-up: 36-41%
  • Knee Push-up: 49%
  • 1′ Elevated Push-up: 54%
  • Regular Push-up: 64%

The strategy down our push-up progression scheme is to slow move you down to nan ground, lifting much and much of your ain weight arsenic you go.

Think of it for illustration gaining XP successful a video game, truthful 1 time you’ll beryllium capable to tackle nan last boss: nan floor.

A witch going into a basement

It mightiness thief to dress there’s a witch beneath it. 

Alright, let’s show you precisely really to do immoderate of these push-up variations.

4 Push-up Variations (to Progress to a Full Push-Up)

A fig doing a push-up

The push-up variations beneath tin beryllium thought of arsenic benchmarks.

If you can’t complete 8-10 reps, nbd.

We’ll person you train astatine nan level beneath and you’ll move up earlier you cognize it.

Here are 4 variations for our Push-up Progression Plan:

Push-up Progression Level 1: Wall Push-ups

Coach Jim doing a wall push-up

Place your hands connected a wall astir thorax weight (roughly 4′, 48″, aliases 122 cm). Bend your arms and get arsenic adjacent to nan wall earlier pushing backmost up.

Push-up Progression Level 2: Waist-High Push-ups

Staci showing you an elevated push-up

Place your hands connected a aboveground astir waist precocious (roughly 3′, 36″, aliases 92 cm). Bend your arms and touch your thorax to nan aboveground earlier pushing backmost up.

Push-up Progression Level 3: Knee-High Push-ups

Coach Jim doing a knee precocious push-up

Place your hands connected a aboveground astir knee precocious (roughly 1.5′, 18″, aliases 46 cm). Bend your arms and touch your thorax to nan aboveground earlier pushing backmost up.

Push-up Progression Level 4: Knee Push-ups

Rebel Leader Steve doing knee push-ups

Hold yourself up connected your hands and knees, pinch nan assemblage successful a consecutive statement from shoulders to knees. Lower down to nan crushed earlier pushing backmost up.

FINAL BOSS: Push-ups!

Here Rebel Leader Steve shows you nan classical push-up.

You made it to a push-up!

Are you doing them correctly?

Our adjacent conception will dive into nan correct form, since this is simply a guideline connected getting your first due push-up (I wouldn’t clasp retired connected you).

But first, you whitethorn beryllium asking yourself a question: when do I advancement up to nan adjacent level?

For that, I’d urge downloading our caller app (it’s free to effort out).

Nerd Fitness Journey will guideline you done a workout regular specifically designed to thief you get your first push-up, pinch benchmarks and signals connected erstwhile to move up. 

Plus, you get to gain existent XP truthful you level up your very ain superhero!

You tin springiness it a free trial thrust correct here:

What Is nan Proper Form for a Push-Up?

The video supra walks you done nan correct measurement to do a due push-up, and besides includes a fewer well-placed jokes from yours truly.

Here’s really to complete 1 cleanable push-up:

  • With your arms straight, glutes clenched, and abs braced, steadily little yourself until your elbows are astatine a 90-degree perspective aliases less.
  • Try to support your elbows relatively adjacent to your body, and support statement of erstwhile they commencement to flare retired arsenic you get tired.
  • Once your chest (or nose/chin) touches nan level (or your arms spell down to a 90-degree angle), region somewhat and past push backmost up until you’re astatine nan starting position.

Here are 4 communal mistakes pinch push-ups:

#1) Make judge you support your elbows in. Often, beginners will flare retired their elbows erstwhile doing a push-up.

A bully measurement to deliberation of this, is you want your assemblage to look much for illustration an ARROW from nan top, not a T.

This infographic connected nan due push-up shape shows you want I mean:

As you tin see, you want your arms to beryllium for illustration an arrow, not a T erstwhile doing push-ups.

#2) Keep your caput successful statement pinch your body. We don’t want your caput shifting forward, which could put unnecessary accent connected your cervix and forestall a afloat scope of motion.

#3) Keep your hips successful statement pinch your assemblage (no sagging). We want you successful 1 consecutive statement arsenic you push your assemblage up and down:

A gif of Coach Jim doing push-ups successful a mini space.

#4) Attempt to do a afloat scope of mobility pinch your push-up (as agelong arsenic it’s pain-free). Shoot to travel each nan measurement down, truthful your thorax is rubbing nan crushed aliases nan entity you’re doing push-ups against.

If you want much thief here, we person a afloat guideline connected how to do due push-ups, (including precocious variations to try).

Exercises For Achieving a Full Push-Up

These LEGO characters are connected a ngo to turn immoderate muscle.

There are 2 exercises that will spell a agelong measurement towards achieving your first push-up:

  1. Push-up Negatives
  2. Front Planks aliases Top of Push-up Holds

First, let’s talk astir push-up negatives.

“Negative” successful workout terminology mostly intends only doing half of a accepted rep, usually lowering nan movement.

Coach Jim doing a push-up negative

To do a Push-up Negative

  • Hold yourself up astatine nan apical of a push-up, pinch nan assemblage successful a consecutive statement from shoulders to feet.
  • Lower down and touch nan ground, past fto nan knees remainder connected nan crushed to thief you push backmost up.
  • You tin do a push-up antagonistic from an elevated aboveground too.

Next, let’s talk astir Front Planks aliases Holding astatine nan Top of a Push-up.

The plank is simply a awesome bodyweight workout to prosecute your halfway muscles.

This is important for a fewer reasons:

  • Builds a beardown midsection. A sturdy core will thief a batch erstwhile doing push-ups.
  • If you can’t clasp nan apical of a push-up position, doing 1 complete rep will beryllium almost impossible.

Holding a plank mightiness beryllium reliable for you, truthful let’s talk astir a fewer variations you tin research with.

Hold Level 1: Knee Planks

Coach Jim doing a knee beforehand plank

Hold yourself up connected your forearms and knees, pinch nan assemblage successful a consecutive statement from shoulders to knees.

Hold Level 2: Front Planks

Coach Staci showing you nan beforehand plant

Lie connected nan level pinch your forearms flat, making judge that your elbows are aligned straight nether your shoulders.

Engage your halfway and raise your assemblage disconnected nan level successful a consecutive statement from caput to feet, keeping your forearms planted. Try not to fto your hips emergence aliases drop.

Hold Level 3: Push-up Hold

Coach Jim holding nan apical of a push-up

Hold yourself up astatine nan apical of a push-up position, pinch nan assemblage successful a consecutive statement from shoulders to feet.

If you travel nan Push-up Challenge successful NF Journey, you’ll announcement that beautiful overmuch each workout ends pinch a type of 1 of these holds, since halfway spot is truthful captious for push-ups.

Oh, and if you want to conscionable effort Nerd Fitness Journey to spot what I mean, you tin do truthful correct here:

The Push-up Workout Plan

a doll doing a push-up

Remember earlier erstwhile I said nan sanction of nan crippled pinch push-up progression is consistency?

To show you what I mean, it’s clip to build a workout for conquering push-ups.

I’d urge 3 workouts a week for a Push-up Progression Plan, pinch a remainder time between.

Could beryllium Monday-Wednesday-Friday aliases Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday.

As agelong arsenic there’s a day disconnected betwixt workouts, it’s fine.

Coach Jim doing elevated push-up

Oh, and if you tin only do 2 workouts a week, that’s okay too. Just do nan champion you tin (even erstwhile a week).

The “Get Your First Push-up” Workout is:

  • A Warm-Up
  • 3 aliases 4 sets of a Push-up Variation for 8-10 reps
  • 2 aliases 3 reps of a Push-up Negative
  • 60-second Plank aliases Hold

Let’s dive into each of these a spot more.

Step #1) Warm-up

  • Arm circles: 10x/way
  • Wrist stretches: 5/side

Arm circles for push-ups will look for illustration this:

Arm circles for illustration truthful are a awesome measurement to get your bosom complaint up earlier doing HIIT.

Wrist stretches for push-ups will look for illustration so:

Coach Jim doing wrist stretches backwards

You tin ever do a much general warm-up routine, but conscionable make judge you see immoderate variety of these 2 moves.

Step #2) Train pinch a Push-up Variation

Earlier, we went done 4 variations that will thief you get your first push-up.

After your warm-up, you should train pinch 1 of them.

For our Push-up Progression Plan, I want you to alternate betwixt 2 variations:

  • On Day A, do 3 aliases 4 sets of a push-up variety that you tin do 8-10 reps in.
  • On Day B, do 3 aliases 4 sets of a push-up variety that you tin do 5-8 reps successful (so a harder variation).

For example:

  • On Monday possibly you do 3 sets of waist-high push-ups for 10 reps.
  • Wednesday, you tin do 3 sets of knee-high push-ups for 8 reps.
  • Then Friday, backmost to nan waist-high variation.

Step #3) Do a Negative

After you train pinch your push-up variation, I want you to effort 2-3 reps of a antagonistic push-up.

If these are excessively tough, simply do an easier variation, for illustration knee push-up negatives:

Any of nan 4 variations we discussed earlier tin beryllium done arsenic a “negative.”

These negatives will beryllium important, arsenic they’ll spell a agelong measurement towards building spot for a regular push-up.

Step #4) Plank/Hold for 60 seconds

We’re going to extremity our “Get Your First Push-up” Workout pinch a hold:

  • Front Plank
  • Holding nan Top of nan Push-up

Choose whichever variety you like, but effort to clasp nan position for a afloat minute, pinch arsenic fewer sets arsenic possible.

A plank, for illustration so, is simply a awesome measurement to prosecute your core.

If you request to break up nan 60-second hold, you could:

  • Do 3 sets of 20 seconds each.
  • Do 2 sets of 30 seconds each.

Just purpose to spell longer and longer arsenic you go. If you can’t make it to a afloat minute, don’t stress. Just activity connected holding a knee aliases elevated plank.

These holds will thief fortify your core, which will beryllium captious for doing push-ups pinch due form.

Oh, and if you want personification to modify this workout for you (let’s opportunity you besides want to do immoderate HIIT for fat loss) our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program tin do conscionable that.

Plus, your coach tin reappraisal your movements done our app truthful you’ll cognize your training correctly and safely.

How to Achieve Your First Push-up (Next Steps)

A man doing push-up successful sunset

That should springiness you everything you request to get started pinch nan push-up progression plan.


The “Get Your First Push-up” Workout is:

  • A Warm-Up
  • 3 aliases 4 sets of a Push-up Variation for 8-10 reps
  • 2 aliases 3 reps of a Push-up Negative
  • 60-second Plank aliases Hold

Do this 3 times a week, pinch a time of remainder betwixt workouts, and you’ll beryllium bully to go.

Wayne is stoked that he made his mini alteration for weight loss.

As you proceed connected nan Push-up Progression Plan, retrieve to support pushing harder. We want you slow but surely expanding nan situation of nan workout (known successful nan biz arsenic “progressive overload.”)

This could be:

  • Adding different rep (8 reps of waist-high push-ups to 9)
  • Adding different group (3 sets of knee push-ups to 4)
  • Moving up to a much difficult variety (waist-high push-ups to knee-high)

Oh, and if you request immoderate thief on nan way, I gotcha boo.

Here’s really to proceed your travel pinch Nerd Fitness:

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: cleanable for personification who wants an master (like me!) to creation nan correct way for conquering push-ups. We’re each different, truthful why not person a coach guideline you done a programme that’s custom-made for you?

You tin schedule a free telephone pinch our squad truthful we tin get to cognize you and spot if our coaching programme would beryllium a bully fit. Just click connected nan image beneath for much details:

#2) If you want an nonstop blueprint for crushing push-ups, cheque retired NF Journey. Our nosy habit-building app helps you workout much frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Plus, our 6-week Push-up Challenge has helped rather a fewer Rebels execute their first push-up!

Katie talking astir really she sewage her first push-up utilizing NF Journey

Try your free proceedings correct here:

#3) Join nan Rebellion! We request bully group for illustration you successful our community, nan Nerd Fitness Rebellion. You’ll meet individuals from each different walks of life, each of whom are trying to level up their lives. 

Sign up successful nan container beneath to enlist and get our “Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know” guide, which will thatch you precisely really to turn beardown capable to stone push-ups:

Download our broad guide

  • Everything you request to cognize astir getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find nan correct gym and train decently successful one.

Alright, I want to perceive from you now:

Can you do a due push-up?

If not, what level are you on?

Are we missing immoderate adjuvant suggestions for a beginner?

Let maine cognize successful nan comments!


PS: Check retired nan remainder of our guides connected doing push-ups:


Photo source: Gecko push-upFigure push-up; 102, 103, 104…; doll push-up, push-up sunset;

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