The Best Way to Build Up to a Push Up

Andy McKenzie


Strength and Conditioning, Bodyweight Exercise, Mobility & Recovery


Andy McKenzie is an expert in bodyweight and core training. This week, he provides a fantastic drill for progressing to a full push up, for those who are not there yet.


How often do you see someone do a push up on their knees? This is a common sight in gyms up and down the country. In fact, many trainers use it as a default option for those who don't yet have the strength to perform a push up.


While this makes it easier from a lever point of view, it doesn't build up the strength required to be able to perform a push up.


There are far better ways to train for a full push up, including:


  • Stability drills
  • Straight arm planks
  • Bear crawls
  • Other crawling movements


Here's a push up regression that still allows you to engage all the muscles required for a proper push up:


  1. Hook up a fitness band at roughly shoulder height
  2. Step into it and wrap it around your ribcage
  3. Ensure you feel the tension of the band on the lats
  4. Place your hands shoulder width apart and your feet together
  5. Squeeze the abs and squeeze the butt
  6. Lower down under control, then drive back up
  7. Ensure you feel the inside of the tricep on the band as you drive up


This drill will keep you in the right position, at the same time as improving on the specific strength for a push up. Add it to your toolkit and your training plan if needed. Let us know have any questions!


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