How to Get Better at Push Ups – Jim Kielbaso

It’s no surprise that many athletes want to get better at push ups.  It’s a foundational exercise that requires no equipment, and How to get better at push upscan be done anywhere.  Many coaches also look for ways to help athletes get better at push ups, but simply doing them more often isn’t a great way for many people to improve, especially those who aren’t capable of performing many good push ups.

When I work with athletes who struggle with them, but want to get better at push ups, I take a three step approach that has worked for hundreds of athletes.  This approach is outlined here and demonstrated in greater detail in the video below:

  1.  Teach them proper technique.  Often, I see young athletes use poor form because they either can’t or haven’t been taught.  I like to start the process by giving some instruction and cues that I can build upon as we train.
  2. Take advantage of negative (or eccentric) push ups.  Humans can produce about 20% greater force eccentrically than concentrically.  That means that we can perform the lowering phase of a push up much easier than the raising phase.  We can take advantage of this phenomenon by utilizing negative push ups in an effort to gain enough strength to perform full reps.
  3. Slowly progress from negatives with good form to full push ups with good form.  Having a slow system of progression can really help athletes get better at push ups in a fairly short amount of time.

Watch this short video to learn more about these steps:

Of course, effort and consistency are key to making progress, but taking advantage of this 3-step approach gives you a simple system than can help just about anyone get better at push ups.  By teaching proper technique, reinforcing it through the use of negatives, and slowly forcing the body to adapt (get stronger), you can give athletes the ability to take advantage of this foundational exercise.

Athletes that struggle to perform push ups often struggle with other exercises and movements because they lack the postural strength & stability to maintain main positions.  Once athletes can perform quality push ups, it will open up a plethora of variations and options that can be utilized when training for improved sports performance.  Learning how to use free weights, sprint faster, and improve a variety of sports skills will be enhanced by the ability to perform push ups.  Take advantage of this method to not only help athletes get better at push ups, but to improve their ability to control their bodies in sports.


Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, Michigan.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

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