4-Week Push-Up Plan | POPSUGAR Fitness


If you struggle with doing push-ups, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I could actually complete a full set of push-ups on my toes. I was fit and more active than most, but I found out from my trainer that I wasn’t conditioning my body in the right way to cross push-ups off of my fitness bucket list. Fast forward four months and I am proud to say that I’ve completed over 50 push-ups in a single circuit.

Chances are it’s the same for you. What seems like an impossible exercise is probably closer to your grasp than you think, and that’s where this push-up progression plan will help. Designed by Austin Lopez, CSCS and trainer at DIAKADI, the four-week plan hones in on the muscles and movement needed to work when you do a push-up.

“Push-ups require all sorts of general muscle strength, a decent amount of shoulder mobility, and a surprising amount of shoulder and core stability,” Austin told POPSUGAR. “The approach of this plan focuses on all of those things. While just working on one move like a dumbbell chest press definitely has its benefits and could maybe get you there at some point, working all of the muscles at once will help you get there more efficiently.”

Besides commitment, the only requirement to complete this plan successfully is that you should already be able to do the prescribed exercises without modifications. If you’re unable to, expect this to take longer as you build up your strength.

Push-Up Progression Plan: The four-week schedule consists of weekly workouts that should be done three times per week. It’s laid out here in text, but continue reading for photos and detailed directions of each move. For weighted moves, be sure to pick dumbbells that challenge you without sacrificing your form; think medium to heavy weights.

Week 1 / Perform 3x Week

  • Dumbbell rows, 8-10 reps
  • Incline push-ups, 10-12 reps
  • Elbow plank, hold for 20 seconds
  • Run through the above circuit three times

Week 2 / Perform 3x Week

  • Dumbbell rows, 8 reps
  • Up-down plank, as many reps as possible
  • V-crunch, 15 reps
  • Run through the above circuit four times

Week 3 / Perform 3x Week

  • Incline push-ups (performed closer to the ground than in week one), 6 reps
  • Elbow plank with reach, 12-16 reps
  • Run through the above circuit four times

Week 4 / Perform 3x Week

  • Negative push-ups (as slow as possible), 6 reps
  • Side plank with hip dips, 8-12 reps on each side
  • Run through the above circuit four times

Week 5

  • Watch all that work come together! At this point, you should be able to do a set of three to five push-ups on your toes.


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