Learn to Love Push-ups

Did you wince when you read that title? A few years ago, I would have. However, I have learned to respect, and even enjoy, my push-ups routine. You can too.

Are You Serious (Crazy)?

Yep (nope; well, maybe a little). “Hear” me out.

Push-ups are affordable. They do cost you time, but all1 exercise does to some degree. Push-ups are achievable. Do you know anyone that cannot do at least one push-up? Me either. They are a natural design. Push-ups are accumulative. The more push-ups you do, the more push-ups you can do.

How/Where Do I Start?


Start with one push-up on your bedroom/living room floor. Use padding under your hands if you have hardwood floors and it hurts.

I, personally, recommend performing push-ups “on your knuckles”. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Just make a fist on the floor and push up. This keeps your wrists perfectly straight to prevent injury/strain on them. For me, this is essential, because I have an very old injury that makes bending my wrists during push-ups a bit painful on that joint.

If one push-up is easy, do some more. One method to start out with is to do as many push-ups as you can at a slow, steady pace. Keep count. When you can’t do any more, jot down that count.

The next day (or maybe the one after that if you need the recovery), break that count into 3-5 parts (sets). It’s best to distribute the count across those sets such that you do a little more repetitions (reps) during the first and second set. After that, decrease the reps on each set a little more. You’ll get tired as you do the sets, so having less to do in the later sets is ideal.

Take a good one-minute break in between sets to give your muscles just enough time to recover enough for another set. Do the same set/rep session each day for a week, then increase the rep count by for each set the next week. Continue to grow stronger.

More Challenge

You may find that distributing your count across sets is too easy. After all, you were able to do them all at once. Understand that if you do this every day, it may be hard to do a single set to your full potential each day. However, it is often best, for those of you that do find it too easy, to throw on an extra rep or two for each set. This sum of reps will exceed the count you can do in a single set, and help offset the ease you were experiencing.

What If I Can’t Do That Many Initially?

If you can only do 1 push-up, do a couple sets of 1. You’ll likely be able to do another one after a minute or two break between sets.

If you can only do 6 push-ups, do 5 sets of 2-3 reps. Try for sets like this: 3-3-2-2-1. Yeah, that’s more than your single-set total, but you can probably do it with breaks between. If not, decrement each set count by a rep until its doable.

What If I Still Hate Push-ups?

I think you will grow to at least appreciate push-ups after you track how well you improve each week. However, some people just loathe push-ups, even if they succeed with them. To you, all I can say is, find a reason to enjoy push-ups.

If you are getting stronger, think of those results. If your arms are firmer, focus on that. Consider gamifying your push-up sessions. Gamification is used everywhere to motivate people to desire something trivial, boring, or even loathing. Think of rewards (not unhealthy food or actions) you can earn by reaching your goal for the day or week. Use apps to help you track your progress and maybe even earn “badges” or “trophies” for your achievements.

Get out of your own head!

  1. Though all exercise requires you to invest some time into executing, there are a few out there that you can perform while doing something else.