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9 Workouts to Improve Your Push-Up

9 Workouts to Improve Your Push-Up How to Increase Strength to Do More Push-Ups

Read Time • 8 Min
  • Category Fitness
  • Membership Free

Overview

Want to improve your push-up strength? Whether you have a goal to achieve your first full push-up or increase the number of push-ups you can do, these workouts will help! 



Push-ups are a compound exercise, meaning that they target many muscles at once. All of the workouts below include push-ups or exercises that support the development of the muscles necessary to perform a push-up: chest presses, chest flies, planks, and more. These workouts also incorporate a variety of push-up variations to support diverse muscle development. The training types below are primarily strength training but also include a little yoga, cardio, and more. This list is not meant to be followed in a programmatic manner (in a specific order) but rather to give you a sense of the types of workouts that will help you work toward this goal. 

1. Upper Body Workout to Build Strength for Push-Ups — Daniel, Free

This 12-minute add-on workout is a great way to practice your basic push-ups. 

“This upper body workout makes for a great burnout round, and it’s excellent for increasing strength in order to be able to do more push ups. You can use this at the end of a longer workout, or you can add a warm up and cool down and use it as a standalone routine.

This exercise works for many different fitness levels, with small modifications. If you are new to building strength, we recommend doing the push up exercises with your hands on a wall, or elevated bench. On the other hand, if you want to make this more difficult, you can elevate your feet during the push ups, or wear a weighted vest in order to make this workout much more difficult.” — Daniel

For tips related to push-up variations, click the link above to read Daniel’s full workout writeup. 

2. Upper Body Strength Circuit Training with Push-Ups Intermissions — Tasha, FB Plus

Want to experiment with various push-up variations? This workout is a great option. 

“There are plenty of repetitions to enjoy in this upper body focused strength routine! We target the major push and pull muscles in this multi-circuit session with a secondary focus on a few push-ups variations during the intermissions. Why push-ups? Although push-ups are a standard foundational movement pattern that precludes several other exercises, they are still a particularly challenging exercise for most of us. Many of us avoid them for this reason; however, like with any other difficult exercise, skill, or unfamiliar activity, intentional practice with incremental progressions will help us tackle the notoriously disliked push-up. Note that the push-ups variations in this workout are a bit more challenging than a regular/basic push-up, so feel free to take on any modification or alternative that matches your current physical capabilities.” — Tasha

3. Upper Body Strength with Push Intervals — Nicole, Plus

Challenge your muscles with the unique format of this workout, which involves long strength intervals paired with short bursts (aka “push” intervals) that’ll test your muscle endurance and target smaller support muscles.

“This is a well-rounded routine that covers every single muscle group in your upper body. We’ll be using dumbbells (medium and heavy) as well as your own bodyweight to strengthen and fatigue each muscle group in a functional way.

If you’re not familiar with the format, it’s a bit unique. We have 4 supersets of 2 exercises each. The first exercise (A) will be 1 minute long. Following that, we have a short 15 second transition before performing a “push” exercise (B) for 30 seconds. For the longer rounds (exercise A), our goal is to build strength. Pick up heavier weights and slow down the movement. Exercise B will hone in on the smaller, complementary muscle groups. Aim to “push” for as many reps as possible (safely, of course). This may require lighter weights or simply bodyweight.” — Nicole

4. Upper Body Push Muscles with Kickboxing Finisher — Erica, Plus

This workout focuses on “strengthening the upper body muscles that complete pushing motions; the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The back and biceps will be incorporated as well, they just won’t be a primary focus. To jazz up this upper body strength day, we do a 5-minute kickboxing finisher to elevate the heart rate and fire up the pushing muscles in a new way.” — Erica

Expect tricep push-ups, offset push-ups, and plenty of chest exercises! 

This workout is part of the 10-Day Challenge: Transform with Erica — if you like it, check out the whole challenge! 

5. Upper Body Strength with Bonus Pulses for Stabilizing Muscle Activation — Amanda, Free

If you feel a little unsteady throughout your push-ups, this workout with Amanda might help, as it utilizes both full ranges of motion (to target your larger muscle groups) as well as pulsing through smaller ranges of motion (to target your smaller stabilizer muscles). 

Why is this beneficial? “Much like an isometric exercise, working through the smaller range of motion places less load through the joint, can help build strength and power, and help with injury prevention. Moving through a larger range of motion engages the larger global muscles while pulsing through a smaller range of motion activates the stabilizing musculature.” — Amanda

6. Push Pull AMRAP Strength Sets for Balanced Upper Body Muscle Development — Brian, Plus

Want to improve your push-ups more efficiently? This push/pull workout from Brian is a great option. 

“Let's discuss the benefits of a push-pull workout and the exercises for today's session. A push-pull workout is a great way to target different muscle groups efficiently. By combining pushing and pulling movements, we engage the pushing muscles (like the chest, shoulders, and triceps) and the pulling muscles (like the back and biceps). This balanced approach helps muscle development and promotes overall strength and stability. It's a strategy I like to use for a well-rounded upper-body workout.” — Brian

This workout is part of the 5-Day Challenge: Advanced Strength with Brian. If you enjoy Brian’s style here, you might like the full challenge! 

7. Unconventional Upper Body and Core: Descending Strength Intervals with Cardio — Kayla, Plus

As we mentioned before, push-ups are a compound movement that involves various muscle groups. This workout from Kayla includes unique exercises that target not only your chest, but also your core stability and shoulder mobility — two important components in mastering the push-up. 

“Carve out 30 minutes of your day for an unconventional upper body and core workout with me! These unique bodyweight exercises combine strength, shoulder mobility, and core stability to pack a serious punch in a short amount of time. While this workout is not quite equipment-free, you can easily use towels, sliders, or even socks to get the job done.” — Kayla

8. Yoga-Inspired Burnout for Upper Body Strength — Marina, Plus

Strength training isn’t the only way to improve your push-up! This yoga-inspired workout with Marina includes movements that’ll challenge your triceps, chest, shoulders, and more — including the chaturanga (aka Low Plank) which is similar to a push-up. 

“If you’re running short on time and looking for a quick upper body focused workout, this ~ spicy ~ 15-minute practice has got your triceps and shoulders covered! The low-impact movements offered in this quick-paced class will challenge your overall upper body strength and mobility while helping you to identify and work into smaller muscle groups (that often get overlooked with isometric contractions) with dynamic exercises. I offer opportunities to practice complete presence and resilience as we challenge our bodies with unfamiliar movements and moments of intense muscle burn.” — Marina

9. “Work Out With Me” Freestyle Upper Body Strength Workout for People Who Get Bored Easily — Kelli, Plus 

Improving your push-ups doesn’t have to be boring. If you get bored doing repetitive strength sets, you might enjoy Kelli’s freestyle workout for people who get bored easily. 

“Grab your dumbbells and get ready to work! Today we’re treating our upper body muscles to a fun, thorough workout. We'll be doing everything from traditional strength sets, isometrics, isolation and alternating strength  moves, bodyweight burnout moves, and upper body driven cardio bursts.” — Kelli

If you have a goal to increase your push-up strength, any of these workouts will help. Which workout will you try first?