This is a common problem.

Push-up is a great body weight exercise. It is a compound exercise that works a few different muscle groups, can be used as part of a circuit training and can be done anywhere. It is a very useful exercise to include in your exercise routine.


What muscles do I need to develop for better push-ups?

The primary muscles that push-ups focus on are the pectorals (chest muscles).
The secondary muscles that push-ups work are the triceps (backs of arms).


How do I develop the strength in these muscles so that I can do better push-ups?

If you can’t do a single push-up, it will be very hard to get strong enough to do a set of 10 – 30 reps, especially when you are only doing push-ups.

I would suggest that you focus on strengthening the muscles that allow you to do the push-ups in the first place.

Bench press, dumbbell chest press or exercise band chest press.

These are all exercise choices that work the same muscles as push-ups. If you aim for 3 sets of 10 reps three times per week with a heavy weight, you can gauge the weight that you need by raising the resistance or weight that you lift. When you are struggling on the final 8 – 10 reps of your working sets, you know you are around your target weight. As you get stronger, you will need to add more weight or resistance.

This is the very basic principle of strength training.

If you do this kind of pressing exercise 3 times per week, let’s say, Monday, Wednesday and Friday; you should be able to do a few push-ups within a few weeks. This will give you a good base to work from. You can then work on the total amount of push-ups that you can do.

Do 1 set every day starting at 1 rep, and then add 1 rep to your set every day that you do them. In theory, within a month, you will be able to do 30 push-ups in one set.

“In theory.” 🙂

If you don’t have access to a gym, weight rack or weights. You can do a compound chest press using a high-backed chair and an exercise band.

I figured out this exercise when I was developing my beginner’s home fitness course. It is easy to do and if you don’t have any exercise bands, its definitely worth investing in a set as you can do so much with these as you will see if you read any of my fitness books or guides.

They are very handy, fairly cheap, and you can do an awful lot of exercises with them.

This is the exercise:


Exercise Band Chest Press






Attach stirrups to each end of the band, and cross the band around a high-backed chair.

Start position: Sit on the chair with the band attached, ensuring that your back is straight, your feet are flat to the floor and you are looking straight in front of you. Hold the stirrups in each hand with palms facing the floor, ensuring that your forearms are parallel to the floor. Your hands should be in line with your chest and you should feel a slight resistance from the band.

Movement: Keeping your forearms parallel to the floor, straighten your arms out in front of you and bring your hands to meet each other at the end of the movement so they touch when your arms are fully extended, whilst breathing out. Return to the start position whilst breathing in, and you have completed one rep. You should feel this in your chest.

This is the exercise that you should do if you only have bands to work with. The same rules apply; do this exercise at least three times per week and use the strongest resistance that allows you to do 10 reps.


You can also strengthen your triceps with compound exercises. Since these are your secondary muscles that assist you to complete a press-up, you can only benefit from this exercise. Same rules apply; 3 sets per exercise, 3 times per week. But try to do as many reps as you can per set.


Tricep Dips Feet on Floor






Start position: Sit with your back to a bench or chair and place your hands so that your fingers are pointing forward and taking your body weight. You should now be in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor.

Movement: As you breathe in, allow your elbows to flare out naturally to the side as you lower your body towards the floor. You should lower yourself only to the point that you feel the stretch on your triceps (upper rear arms). Once at the bottom of the movement, raise your body back up to the starting position as you breathe out. This completes one rep.

If you do what is outlined in this post, you should be able to do a few push-ups in about 2 – 4 weeks.
The difference between chest pressing exercises and push-ups is the back support and the inability to change the resistance.

When you do a push-up, you need to keep your back flat and this requires core strength. So I always advise, when doing any kind of resistance exercise, that you hold your stomach muscles in and keep them firm. This way, you will keep good posture and your abdominals will be working during every exercise that you do.

There is also another way to try and learn to do pushups. This is by performing the exercise on your knees.


Push-Ups On Knees






Start position: Get to a position on the floor so that you are on your hands and knees. Your
hands should be about shoulder width apart and in line with your face.

Movement: Keep your back straight and lower your upper body towards the floor by bending your elbows and breathing out. Once you’re at the bottom of this movement, whilst breathing out, raise your upper body back to the starting position. This completes one rep.

If you can do more than 30 reps, move to full push-ups.

I hope that this article has given you some ideas on how to develop your ability to do full push-ups. I would love to hear how you got on if you are in the “Non Push-Up” boat and you tried this.

So, let me know 🙂

Oh… When you get there, this is what you are aiming for:






Start position: Get into a position on the floor so you are resting on your hands and toes. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart and in line with your face.

Movement: Keep your back straight and lower your upper body towards the floor by bending your elbows whilst breathing out. Once you are at the bottom of this movement, as you breathe out, raise your upper body back to the starting position. This completes one rep.

If you are interested in a full 6 weeks beginner home workout routine, CLICK HERE for more information. Or order the Swap Fat 4 Fit Book HERE

All the best,


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