I can't do pushups. how do I fix this?

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    Jun 10, 2008 12:48 PM GMT
    I have never been able to do pushups. Before I started losing weight it was because I couldn't get into the position without collapsing, and I couldn't get into the "on your knees" position either.

    Now I've lost a bit of weight and done a bit of free weight training I can hold myself in position (Go me!), but any movement from the apex of the position (Where I start) causes me to lose form and basically fall down. I can't start low to the floor either, not with any hope of actually moving. Being on my knees doesn't help either.

    What can I do to improve this situation? And is it worth rectifying, or should I just do a free-weight program (I have no bench, though) and improve that way?
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    Jun 10, 2008 1:32 PM GMT
    The hardest pushup to do is prone on the floor...what you normally think of as a pushup. But pushups are easier the higher you go toward standing.

    My personal trainer had me start out using an elevated bar to "pushup" from. As I built strength, he lowered the bar, until finally I was on the floor.

    If you belong to a gym and they have a squat machine, use the bar provided with that machine. Set the bar at the height that you can do pushups and as you get stronger, lower the bar.

    I found this article here on RJ. It is the opposite of what you want to do. Inclining the legs makes pushups harder. You want to incline your chest to make them easier until you get stronger.

    http://www.realjock.com/article/930/
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    Jun 10, 2008 1:39 PM GMT
    OK, so the idea is that effort for pushups is a function of the angle to make to vertical, so making that angle lower makes them easier, which is why wall pushups give me no issues and floor pushups aren't possible for me (yet).

    Is it worth building on being able to do pushups for pushups sake, or should I focus on other forms of resistance training, and eventually I'll be able to do pushups anyhow?
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    Jun 10, 2008 1:40 PM GMT
    Here is the push-ups article on RJ

    http://www.realjock.com/article/588/

    See photo 4 to see what I mean

    Oh, btw, when you get done using that bar for pushups. Slip underneath and use it to do pull ups.

    Growing into doing a pull-up is the opposite of the pushup. You start with the bar low and as you get stronger, raise the bar until you are in a full vertical position and pulling yourself up.
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    Jun 10, 2008 1:52 PM GMT
    Why don't you substitute pushups with other exercises for the meantime?

    Bench presses for instance?

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    Jun 10, 2008 2:47 PM GMT
    Caslon4000 saidThe hardest pushup to do is prone on the floor...what you normally think of as a pushup. But pushups are easier the higher you go toward standing.

    My personal trainer had me start out using an elevated bar to "pushup" from. As I built strength, he lowered the bar, until finally I was on the floor.

    If you belong to a gym and they have a squat machine, use the bar provided with that machine. Set the bar at the height that you can do pushups and as you get stronger, lower the bar.

    I found this article here on RJ. It is the opposite of what you want to do. Inclining the legs makes pushups harder. You want to incline your chest to make them easier until you get stronger.

    http://www.realjock.com/article/930/


    I would have suggested the same thing Caslon. Nice work!



    If you think push-ups are difficult, try handstand push-ups. Used to do those in gymnastics. Those are hard, if you don't have strong shoulders.

    Good luck Quadlex! With time, they will become easier. icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 10, 2008 3:03 PM GMT
    You can always do push ups off the edge of your bathtub. Easier than starting on the floor.
  • auryn

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    Jun 10, 2008 6:21 PM GMT
    The advice and RJ links that Caslon gave are the best. I didn't know that I could do elevated push ups as a start until I came across that link some months ago. I've also noticed that many trainers have their clients do them, so never feel bad for doing something that's for a beginner; at least you're doing something when others are just sitting around doing nothing. So good for you!

    It may take time to build the strength that you want, but it's worth it.

    If you're not going to a gym, try the edge of a table, the couch, a chair, or even at an angle against a wall (or the bathtub as mentioned by runinthecity). Don't let the absence of a bench or a bar stop you.

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    Jun 10, 2008 6:25 PM GMT
    I wonder if you're activating your core when you do push-up's. Even though your chest, shoulders and triceps are the active muscles, you should be focusing on getting strength from your entire core area. This means pulling your navel in towards your spine, flexing your stomach, flexing your glutes, flexing your thighs. You shouldn't just be dragging your body up with your arms - your whole body should be activated and generating power. This is the first thing I think about when i get into plank position, particularly the stomach and glutes.

    Also, an additional thought based on your previous post: I think you should get over your reluctance to hire a trainer. I understand your pride wants you to do it on your own - but it seems like you're not experienced to know proper form for a lot of these exercises and you're setting yourself up to get major injuries over time. There is no shame in getting professional assistance to learn to do things the right way. Look at Olympic athletes or Lance Armstrong - they have enormous amounts of training help and yet no one discredits their accomplishments. You're making your life so much more difficult by going at this alone.
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    Jun 10, 2008 6:30 PM GMT
    As I've got some hypermobility problems with my shoulders, pushups have always been really difficult for me. I can only go down so far and then my shoulders give out. I've been doing the Strong & Lean program, and this has definitely helped out. Not to say that I've got great shoulders yet, but I'm working on them.

    Follow some of the great advice here, and always modify when needed. You know your body much better than anyone else.