Smarter Push-Ups

Three push-up progressions that are better than push-ups from the knees

October 21, 2019 | by ryan jore, sponsored by Granite Health+Fitness

Push-ups have long been a staple of physical fitness programs and for good reason. Not only do they strengthen numerous muscles at once, they can be done anywhere you have ground, enabling you to get in a good workout no matter where you are. That being said, those who aren’t yet strong enough to do a full push-up frequently end up resorting to push-ups on their knees, and never progress past that stage. While you will get stronger to a point doing push-ups from your knees, for the most part they will generally improve your ability to do knee push-ups rather than getting you to full push-ups.

Check out these three push-up progressions that are better options to get you to full push-ups:

1. Hand Elevated Push-ups

These reduce the amount of weight your upper body has to support which allows you to work your upper body muscles through a full range of motion while learning how to keep your core engaged in the same way you eventually will while doing a full push-up. Risers or benches at the gym are great for this, but you can also practice these from home using a counter, kitchen table, or anything sturdy that is at a height that allows you to do at least five good reps.

2. Band Assisted Push-ups

Similar to the elevated push-ups, these reduce the amount of weight your upper body has the support, however with bands the assistance is variable. At the bottom, where you are weaker, the band gives you more assistance, then lessens as you reach a stronger range of motion towards the top. These do require a door mounted chin up bar and a pull-up band, however that is only a $30-40 investment or you can easily set them up at a gym.

3. Negative Push-ups

Negative push-ups are the most draining of the three exercises, meaning you want to save these until you are close to your first full push-up. To perform, simply set up for a push-up and lower down as slowly as you can. Control matters more than repetition here, so keep your repetitions to sets of five or less.

By following a progressive approach, anyone can (and should) eventually be rocking full push-ups!

about the author...Ryan was born and raised in North Dakota. Playing several sports in high school helped instill a lifelong passion for fitness that led him to pursuing a career in personal training. He specializes in helping everyday people move better and become stronger than ever before with a structured, individualized approach. Follow him on Instagram @ryanjorept!

Certifications and Education

  • NASM certified personal trainer
  • A.S. Physical therapy assistant
  • Functional Movement Systems Level 1
  • Previously Strongfirst Level 1 Kettlebell certified.

Ryan trains at Granite Health + Fitness, where ALL trainers are nationally and specialty certified and work with YOU to reach your fitness goals - keeping you strong, injury-resistant, and able to tackle the activities you love!