Learn how to do 20 push-ups with our six-week challenge!

How to do 20 push-ups - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness<img src=

When we say push-ups, we’re talking about full-blown-on-your toes-male-style push-ups; ’cause if the guys can do it, why can’t we?

“Knee push-ups have a shorter range of motion than when up on your toes, and the amount of resistance is reduced as you don’t have to push the weight of your lower legs,” athletic conditioning specialist Paul Bevan (optimumlifestyle.com.au) says.

“Therefore, although they are easier to perform, you will gain less benefit from performing knee push-ups as opposed to on your toes.” Now that’s settled, let’s move on to the hard stuff! 

How to perform the perfet push-up

For the best results, “Make sure your body is in a straight line from your head to your ankles,” Bevan says. “In the start position, ensure your hands are slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart, with your wrists directly below your shoulders.” Bevan says research has shown that using a narrower hand placement results in the highest muscle activity, in both the chest and triceps.

“Lower your body to the floor by bending your elbows (keeping your body rigid) until your chest touches the floor, then press back up (straightening your elbows).” A slightly wider foot position will also help to improve your balance. Be sure to avoid the common mistakes made by beginners (and even those bodybuilders you see performing dozens on the gym floor), such as letting your hips and lower back sag towards the floor, particularly as you get tired.

An extremely wide hand placement will also affect your ability to perform push-ups. Remember, “Progressive overload is the key to success, so, making small, incremental improvements each week is crucial. Even if that means just one more rep!” Bevan says.

Injury warning: “Underdeveloped triceps or a weak core will affect your ability to perform push-ups,” Bevan says. “Any type of shoulder injury will most likely affect your ability to practise push-ups, as will any elbow or triceps injury.”

Benefits: Push-ups are a great upper body exercise that develops the chest, shoulders, arms and core,” Bevan says. They are also a fantastic body weight exercise, which means no equipment is required, allowing you to take them anywhere, any time. “Push-ups will increase your overall upper body strength, in particular through your chest, shoulders and arms,” Bevan says. “This will have a carry-over effect to many other upper body exercises and sports.”

Push-up six-week challenge

Instructions: Each week involves three workouts, progressing in difficulty each time. Have a full rest day between each push-up workout you attempt.

Week one
The aim for week one is to perfect the correct technique for the traditional male-style push-up.
If you cannot perform any just yet, start from on your knees with the intent to eventually progress to the toe position.
Day one: One push-up with correct technique
Day two: Three push-ups total. These can be done one at a time with a rest in between each 
push-up if required.
Day three: Four push-ups total. These can be done one at a time with a rest in between each 
push-up if required.

Week two
Day one: Four consecutive 
Day two: Four consecutive 
push-ups + rest + two consecutive push-ups (six total)
Day three: Five consecutive push-ups

Week three
Day one: Six consecutive 
Day two: Six consecutive push-ups + rest + three consecutive push-ups (nine total)
Day three: Eight consecutive push-ups

Week four
Day one: 10 consecutive 
Day two: 10 consecutive 
push-ups + rest + five consecutive push-ups (15 total)
Day three: 12 consecutive 

Week five
Day one: 14 consecutive push-ups
Day two: 14 consecutive push-ups + rest + seven consecutive 
push-ups (21 total)
Day three: 16 consecutive 

Week six
Day one: 18 consecutive push-ups
Day two: 18 consecutive push-ups + rest + nine consecutive push-ups (27 total)
Day three: 20 consecutive push-ups

NEXT: Browse workouts for gorgeous, toned arms>>

Photo credit: Nikki Fogden-Moore