Five Ways to Progress Your Push up for Beginners | Al Kavadlo

If you’re crushing push-ups by the dozen, it may be time to give yourself a new challenge. Finding the next progression is as simple as moving your hands or feet! Get Al’s latest book Street Workout for more ►
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As kids, my brother Danny and I spent a lot of time having push-up contests. If one of us could do 30 push-ups, the other had to do 31. Growing up, we thrived on the motivation of competing with each other in order to squeeze out those last reps. It wasn’t long before 30 push-ups turned into 50. Then 50 turned into 70. Eventually, we were both obsessed with hitting triple digits.

What we didn’t know back then, however, was that after a certain point just adding more reps isn’t the best way to keep progressing. It was only many years later–even after we had both become fitness professionals–that we became aware of a more effective approach, which we call Progressive Calisthenics.

Instead of infinitely adding more reps of the exact same exercise, with Progressive Calisthenics, you advance to more difficult versions of the same movement pattern after you can demonstrate competency in the earlier progressions. By changing the leverage, altering the weight-to-limb ratio or removing contact points, you can find ways to increase the workload without adding weight.

When it comes to building muscle and strength, resistance is resistance. If your muscles receive the proper stimulation to grow, they don’t care if the resistance comes from an external object or your own bodyweight. But just as you need to progressively increase the poundage to keep getting stronger with weight training, you must also find ways to increase the intensity of your calisthenics training in order to keep pushing your body toward new growth.

The push-up is one of the clearest ways to see the principles of progressive calisthenics in action. Though sometimes unnoticeable to the untrained eye, these little changes can have a major impact on the difficulty of the exercise.

Here are 5 of my favorite ways to modify the push-up, using the principles of Progressive Calisthenics.

1. Bring Your Hands Closer Together
2. Elevate your Feet
3. Change Your Grip
4. Lower Your Hands Toward Your Hips
5. Remove a lower or upper Contact Point


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