So many times I have people come to me looking for the latest and greatest exercise to get fit.  Looking for something to change up what they did last month.  We are a culture of instant gratification and I understand that we will always be chasing the bright shinny object, however, there are a few cornerstone pieces that should be put in place or the rest will come tumbling down.

Enter perhaps the best exercise ever! 


Jack LaLane once did 1,033 push-ups in 23mins.  Paddy Doyle did 1,500,230 in a year; by the way, that’s 4,110 per day.  For all you women out there, Alicia Weber did 1,020 in one hour.  With giant numbers like these I think you are ready to step up to the plate and get going!

When performing a push-up you will have to push about 65% of your bodyweight.  For example someone weighing 130 would be pushing about 85lbs.

Let’s take a quick look at the main muscles used in performing a push-up.

Pectoralis major


Triceps brachii

Serratus anterior

Abdominal muscles


Push-up Muscles

“Okay, but Ben, I’m not strong enough to do even one push-up!”

No matter where you are in your fitness journey push-ups are a great addition to any program.

Let’s go through some steps to get your first push-up and get you on your way to catching up to Jack Lalane.

First of all, evaluate how far away you really are from getting a push-up. 

Lay down the floor and squeeze!

Squeeze your glutes (butt) and your abs as if you are going to get punched in the stomach.  Pull your elbows tight to your sides with the eyes of elbows going forward.  With your chest all the way on the ground, start by pushing up from the ground rather than starting at the top and going down.

If you are red in the face, frustrated, and struggling with the first one while cursing my name, don’t worry, let’s move on to a progression that is a bit more manageable.

Skip going from the knees and find an angle to do your push-ups.  Start by going against the wall, then progress to a bench, and then the floor!  Like any good program you want to increase the stimulus over time.  If you are pushing up against the wall start with something you can manage, like 3 sets of 10, 3 days a week.  Next week move up to 3 sets of 15.  The following week see if you can make it harder by finding a bench or chair to drop down to and start the process again. This time you start with 4 sets of 3 push-ups and add a few each time you workout.

Wall Push-up     Bench Push-up

Don’t avoid the exercise because you’re not strong enough just yet.  Do what you can and you will be amazed how quickly you progress to the full push-up! The perfect time is now, so get going right away and you will be there before you know it!

Yours in health,