Want to get started doing pushups but nervous about doing it the wrong way? Learn the proper form for female beginners now!
If you’re female and new to working out, you might think that pushups are out of your reach. It’s easy to feel intimidated by pushups if you feel like you’re not strong enough – or if the idea of doing them on the floor seems too hard.
But no matter what your reason for feeling like pushups is beyond your reach, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way for anyone of any age and fitness level to get results with just a few minutes every day.
What are Pushups?
Pushups are an effective exercise for upper body strength, building muscle, and burning calories. There are few exercises that provide lean muscle and sexy upper body definition without the need for a gym or equipment. They can also be modified to work your core.
Pushups are performed by lying face down with the arms at the sides of the chest, palms facing down, and hands shoulder-width apart. The arms are extended so that the body is elevated off the ground.
When done correctly, the body should form a straight line from head to toe. The feet can be together or hip-width apart depending on comfort and flexibility.
As you exhale, bend your elbows and lower your upper body until your chest almost touches the ground. Inhale as you press back up to starting position.
When you are doing pushups you are actually using most of your muscles to work. You will use your abs muscles, triceps, biceps, and pecs. So it is more than just a chest exercise. If you maintain the proper form and do the exercise correctly you can get great results in a very short period of time.
Which muscle groups do pushups work on?
Pushups target several muscle groups including your chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, abs, and back muscles. Performing pushups correctly is essential in properly targeting these muscles during the exercise without straining your shoulders or wrists.
Benefits of Pushups:
- Increase strength in your arms and shoulders.
- Boosting stamina and endurance.
- Pushups are one of the best ways to build strength in your core, shoulders, chest, and arms.
- They can help prevent injuries such as low back pain, shoulder joint pain, or carpal tunnel syndrome by improving posture.
How many pushups should I do a day?
The answer is more nuanced than you might think. The number of push-ups you should do depends on your fitness level and how you want to progress.
In general, avoid doing just one set of pushups as part of your workout routine. Instead, do two or three sets of pushups with rest periods between each set. As you become more fit, gradually increase how many pushups you do during each set.
If you’re new to doing pushups, start by doing one set of 10 to 15 repetitions every other day. As you gain strength, build up to doing two sets of 25 reps each day. Your goal should be 25 to 50 pushups in a single session.
More advanced exercisers may want to try doing 3 sets of up to 20 repetitions per set. Once this becomes easy, consider adding weights or resistance bands to increase intensity.
Here’s a breakdown of the average pushups per age group, according to the Army Physical Fitness Test:
- 17 to 21 years: 46
- 22 to 26 years: 43
- 27 to 31 years: 40
- 32 to 36 years: 37
- 37 to 41 years: 34
- 42 to 46 years: 31
- 47 to 51 years: 28
How to do a proper pushup for female beginners:
Start with Knee Pushups
Knee pushups are a great way to start building strength in your upper body and core. If you’re not able to do a standard pushup yet, drop to your knees until you build the strength to do a regular pushup. Knee pushups still engage many of the same muscles, so they aren’t just for beginners.
1. Get Into Position
Get down on the floor on your hands and knees (hands under shoulders, knees under hips). Your back should be flat or straight (not arched) and your head in line with your spine. Lift one leg up off the floor behind you and extend it out straight so that only your hands and one knee are touching the floor. Keep your torso as straight as possible throughout the exercise. This is the starting position for knee pushups.
2. Lower Body
Bend at both elbows and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel with the floor (elbows should be pointing back). Your torso should remain stationary throughout the movement and should not be twisting or bending. You can look at a spot on the floor about 6 inches.
3. Upper Body
Return to the starting position by pushing off from the ground with your hands, keeping your elbows close to your sides as you do so. When you return to the starting position, squeeze both shoulder blades together for a second before lowering yourself again for another repetition.
Advance to NORMAL Pushups
Once you have built up your strength with knee pushups, you can then progress to more advanced versions of the exercise.
In order to do proper pushups, you must first start in the plank or up position.
Getting into the pushup position is easy, but if you don’t set up properly, you won’t get the most out of the exercise.
You can set up in two ways: with your feet together and with your feet shoulder-width apart. Both methods work your chest, shoulders, arms, back, and abs, but they do so slightly differently.
Set Up With Feet Together
Place your hands on the ground just outside shoulder-width apart. With your feet together, tuck your toes under and lift your butt toward the ceiling until your body is in a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
Set Up With Feet Shoulder-Width Apart
Place your hands on the ground and step back until your body is in a straight line. Your hands should be right underneath your shoulders and about shoulder-width apart. And your body should be straight from head to toe, not sagging or lifting your hips too high.
Lower yourself down by bending your elbows, until your chest nearly touches the floor. Your elbows should be at about a 45-degree angle from your body, not flared out to the sides or pointed directly behind you.
When you have lowered yourself fully, push back up to the starting position and repeat the movement until fatigued.
- The closer your hands are to one another, the more chest muscle you’ll target
- Place them wider than shoulder width to emphasize the triceps and shoulders
- Keep your elbows close to your sides as you lower yourself down
- Your entire body should form a straight line from head to toe
- Try not to tuck or arch your hips during the movement
Once your pushups become easy and no longer challenge you, add Close Hand or Diamond Pushups. Moving your hands closer together changes the angle and muscles used to complete your pushups, close hand pushups work the inner chest and more of your triceps, the muscles on the backs of your upper arms.
Place your thumbs and index fingers together until they form a diamond and your hands in this position directly below your chest. Then push like the normal push up and you will feel the difference in your chest and arms.
Need more of a challenge or another angle? Add Decline Pushups to your training. Find a stable surface like a bench or chair and place your toes on it to elevate your feet higher than your hands, creating added stress on your chest and arms. This angle works more of your upper chest. If you are up to the challenge, alternate a set of decline pushups with diamond push ups.
To add a level of instability (and core) training try one of these Stability Pushups. In your pushup position, put one hand down on the ground and one on top of a medicine ball and perform your push ups. Once you complete a set, switch hands and continue. Once you become proficient, roll the medicine ball left and right and switch hands after each pushup. Another option is to place your feet on the medicine ball or better, an inflatable exercise ball and perform your pushups.
Once you master the basic pushup and these challenging variations, mix them up to create an even more intense and effective workout.
At any age, women can benefit greatly from pushups. Most simply, the exercise works more than a dozen muscles in the body, including the chest, shoulders, arms, and triceps. It’s an excellent way to improve core strength and posture. According to TrainRight, three sets of 10 pushups per day make for a good plan of action for overall fitness goals.
If you just got started, then start with something easy. Do 5 pushups when repeating, seeing how many you can do. Check your form regularly and try to progress every 2 weeks. 1 month is a good period for progress. But it all depends on how hard you work and push yourself.