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Get Better At P90X Pushups: Perfect And Crush Them

There’s no question: P90X and Pushups go together like Tony Horton/sleeveless shirts, summer/AWESOME and Shakeology/peanut butter. They’re a foundational cornerstone of the P90X program (and play a large part of Insanity as well) for good reason– pushups increase upper body strength and power, give a flexible range of movement to your shoulders (which your shoulders will love you for– unlike bench press) and they’re 100% portable.

Still, pushups aren’t easy… you may not even be able to do one right now. THAT’S OK. The whole point here is to turn you into a pushup machine and everyone starts from their very own square one. So let’s get down to basics: how to do a proper pushup, how to maximize those pushups, how to modify your pushups if you’re feeling timid, how to increase your pushup count and lastly… a fun test to see where you’re at and how you’re doing. 1..2..3… GO!

Proper Form

Pushups form seems simple from the outset but it’s easy to do them “less correctly”. In the past, I’d tend to have my hands out in front of me, which put more stress on my shoulders and left my delts giving out before my chest did… IE–I was doing them “less correctly”.  A perfect-form-pushup puts the focus on your chest– and while you’re still activating shoulders, triceps and a bit of bicep for good measure, most of the action should be felt in those pecs. Focus on your form here with this checklist:

  • Hit the deck. Hands should be on the floor slightly in front of your shoulders and shoulder width plus a half an inch apart.
  • Elevate your body by straightening your arms and keeping on your tip-toes. Your body should be one straight line from head to heels. Squeeze your booty and contract your core to stay rigid. You don’t want your cheeks coming up or your hips sagging on the downward movement.
  • When you lower your body, your chest should come close to the floor. Hitting the floor takes the resistance off your chest and we’re trying to WORK it, not give it mercy. If you’re using pushup bars or Power Stands (which I’d totally recommend to keep the pressure off your wrists) you have the added benefit of MORE range of movement.

A nice way to test if your form is correct is to “feel” what’s working when you’re on the downward movement. If your hands are in front of your chest and pushed out more in front of you, adjust your position so on the downward your chest is parallel to your hands. If your head is coming down between your hands, your arms are too far in front of you. And, as always, listen to Tony Horton’s hints and cues.

It may take some adjustment, but once you’re there, you’ll feel it.

Maximize Your Pushup

Maximizing your pushups is all about getting the most out of every pushup you do. The first step to this is connecting your mind to your muscle. In other words, don’t just “do the move”. Think about it. You’re supposed to beworking your chest– make your chest do the work by concentrating on pushing there instead of using your arms. P90X definitely helps this process as it switches chest routines with the “slow twitch”, fast and slow pushups. Still, to get more power from your pushups go faster— explosive up and downs, even. And don’t stop on the burn– push out as many as you can. You’ll be surprised when you really connect with your mind, how many extras you can push out. In short, the burn is where the fun begins– let all that fun last a few extra reps.

Modify Your P90X Pushups

Not everyone can start with a “man-sized” pushup and again– THAT’S OK. We improve with practice and repetition. If you can’t pull a pushup with perfect form, modify with the kneeling approach. It’s the same concept– you’re still putting your chest through the paces- but going to your knees lightens the load a bit. If kneeling isn’t your thing, you can also use a stair or weight bench to get an incline, which follows the same principle. Once you’re pounding out your modified pushups, you can move up to the “classic form”.

Do More Pushups

Getting better at pushups requires doing pushups. Don’t let any perceived “shortcoming” stall you. You may not be winning any pushup contests in the next week or two… but when it’s all said and done… you could. So do them. You’ll get better at your pushups week in and week out, guaranteed. Want to get a “leg up”? Push out a few pushups every night before bed. Start with five. Then do four. Then three. Pretty soon, you’ll see you can start at six, seven, etc. Don’t overdo the pushups-  try this a few nights a week. As you improve, you’ll see it translate in your official workout day.

Test Your P90X Pushup Proficiency

How do you rank right now? There’s a simple test (and it’s a tough one). Gauge your pushup power by doing as many pushups as you can in three minutes. You can rest as needed but don’t stop the clock. If you can do 55 in the 3-minutes stretch, you’re “average”. If you can do 75, you’re considered “good”. I tried the test and came out at 94… which kind of blew my mind because when I started P90X, 10 pushups alone was a Mt. Everest sized feat. And now I’m doing 94? That’s 100% P90X.

Need help nailing your pushups, amping your motivation and staying on track? That’s what I’m here for. Get a hold of me at  coachdan74@gmail.com or make me your official, free Beachbody Coach right here.

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3 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Sean says:

    Great post Dan. This is great for anyone starting P90X and those who want to improve their push ups.

    • Danv says:

      Thanks, Sean. Push ups may be the “poor man’s” chest workout, but we all know P90X uses them for a reason. After an hour of wide, standard, military, decline and moving push ups to failure with proper form, the pump leaves no doubt they’re getting WORKED.

  2. Matt Edwards says:

    Amazing how much you can do for your chest without touching a weight!

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