Pushup Progression | Methods to build to perfect pushup form

wish for it meme

Can we have a redo on New Years? It feels like this past week was a false start to 2018. For a lot of folks. Like the entire East Coast.

Going into the Christmas season, I had these grand plans of working ahead on my blog, working out hard, and starting the new year with a bang.

Instead, three rounds of flu walloped our household. Then we traveled to Kansas where the temperatures were in the single digits. My husband’s grandparents live down three dirt roads in a sod house and, because of the temps, any hopes of running sprints outside quickly fizzled.

Then a cluster of bad news just brought any optimism of ringing in the New Year to a halt. A police officer from our hometown was tragically gunned down New Year’s Eve. The tributes on the news and social media did a number on me. He was 29. A father of two little girls roughly the same ages as my kiddos. And he was a police officer, a profession many in my extended family hold with pride.

We got news that my uncle (a retired police officer) passed away. But with the hectic travel schedule and my girls just getting over their bouts with the flu meant I wouldn’t be able to fly in to be with my family for his wake and funeral. Instead, I ditched my husband with the kiddos and did a delayed visit to the first weekend in January to see everyone and pay my respects.

I’m typing this blog post in the airport waiting to head back to Denver and just got word that a friend’s house in Colorado burned down over the weekend and another friend’s mother passed away.

For real. We need to a do-over.

Needless to say, with all of this upheaval, my workouts have been spotty to nonexistent. But, I’m determined to stick to those New Years resolutions I set a few weeks ago — when life was all rainbows and unicorns — and get back to business in the morning.

And because I think so many of us are feeling a set back due to the weather, illness, holiday drama, or all of the above, I think we should start small.

Pushup progression

This month I am focusing on pushups. An awesome bodyweight exercise, pushups develop the arms, chest, and back muscles. Because they are a bodyweight exercise, you can do them virtually anywhere and modify several different ways, if needed.

Pushups strengthen the muscles for your bench press and help set you up for success in the more advanced yoga poses. If you do them consistently, you’ll see progress quickly.

The movement


Facing the floor, with palms just under your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart or together, push up until your arms are fully extended.

This is your starting position.

Keeping your body in a plank position (no sagging hips or rounded back), lower yourself until your chest hits the floor and push back up. Keep your elbows in, skimming the sides of your body as you lower. By keeping the elbows in, you protect your shoulders, which can become vulnerable if you “chicken wing.” Repeat as required.

On your knees:

Get yourself into the starting position, but lower your knees to the floor. You can either raise your feet or keep your legs and feet on the floor. Keeping that plank position (no butt in the air), lower yourself until your chest hits the floor and push back up. Repeat as required.


If a strict pushup is too difficult, but knee pushups are too easy, you can opt for a combo pushup until you build to the strict pushup.

Start in the strict position and lower yourself until your chest hits the ground. Then, lowering your knees to the ground, push back up. These may take a little more time, but the effort will be well worth it.

Throughout the month we’ll be sharing workouts incorporating pushups. Stay tuned!

30 Replies to “Pushup Progression | Methods to build to perfect pushup form”

  1. So sorry about your uncle, and your friends. Hopefully the rest of the year will be better! I try to keep push-ups in my regular rotation because they were hard to build up to, but I love being able to do the,!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about all the bad stuff going on–yes, you need a redo!

    Thank you for the push up tutorial. There are a bunch of peeps doing a push up challenge–a little form check will be a good thing!

  3. I definitely need to work on my pushups, its hard for me to do a strict opushup due to a small tear in my left should, I have to do them with a really wide grip.

  4. I am so sorry for everything that has been going on and for your loss. How stressful and sad 🙁

    Thanks for posting this. Pushups are really one of my biggest challenges, and I like the idea of combining the strict and on your knees versions. I will have to try this.

  5. I like incorporating push-ups in my workouts. I started with knee push-ups and then alternated with strict push-ups until I can’t do any more. Keep it up!

  6. Sorry the year has gotten of to such a rough start for you.
    Pushups are one of my faves, but yes, it’s easy to let good form fall by the wayside, especially with fatigue.

    1. Thanks, Marcia. And I totally agree. I’ll be writing this a little later, but I love doing an EMOM workout where you do three strict pushups every 30 seconds and then rest. It really helps keeping the form, but getting in the reps!

  7. I’m so sorry about the false start. Sounds like you could use some positive stuff going forward!

    thanks for this post – I am not so sure my form is correct so now I have a guideline to work on it!

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