Push Up for Beginner – How to Do Your First Push Up & Prevent Wrist Pain

Hello, Today I will teach you how to do Push Up.  A detailed tutorial to show you how to achieve your FIRST Push up.  First thing first, Push Up is training your Chest, Front Deltoid & Triceps.  Besides, leg & core are involved.   Let’s review the form.



I will show you some common mistakes first.


#1 Elbow

Elbow too flare out and worse, higher than your shoulder.  This position will cause Internal Rotation of your Shoulder, which is a highly vulnerable position for injury.  To avoid this, we need to tuck our elbow.  The angle between your elbow and your body is around 30° – 70°.  If it is too high (90°), your shoulder may have internal rotation.  At the same time, we don’t have the angle is too small.  If the elbow is too tuck, the angle is too small, it will become a Close Grip Push Up which involves much more Triceps.  Since our primary goal for Push Up is Chest, so the angle should not be too small.


#2: Hip

The hip is often too high or too low.  Neither of them are good.  We want our body be to straight.  That is the only effective form.


#3: Wrist

Another common problem is the Wrist Pain.  Wrist Pain can be attributed to two major reasons:  First one is Low Wrist flexibility.  But I don’t think it is the majority cause.  Instead, I think the second one is.  Bad Wrist Position.  Bad form/position causes pain.  Although different Push variations require different wrist position.  And yet the basic one is to place your wrist around/slightly below your Lower Chest.  Often, Wrist Pain is caused by too low hand/wrist placement, like wrist at Stomach/belly position.  This may causes huge pressure on your wrist.  As a result, Wrist Pain is formed.


Some people with proper wrist placement still get the pain.  So, what happen to them?  In fact, apart from the initial position, we have to see the ending/finished position (At bottom).  Some people get the initial part right, but whey they lower down,  Their wrist still is at too low position (relative to their body).  So, how to rectify this problem?


Let’s take a look.  When we are at the bottom, the forearms are not necessarily vertical.  It can be a slight leaning up.  Then, the wrist is not heavily loaded, so less pain will be caused.  So, if you have Wrist Pain, you can take this advice seriously.



Alright, let’s discuss how to do the First Push Up, the progression and the method.  The progression is rather easy.  We just use different level of height/inclination for Push Up.  The higher the easier.  The lower the harder.  We could use different bar/steps/furniture etc. of different height for Push Up.  First start with the highest.  When you can do at least 10+ reps,  You can try the next one.  So on and so forth.  When you have some level of strength, you can even try the Knee Push Up.


But easier said than done.  You may find that no suitable stuff for the desired height, or the intensity is too much between two height level.  Making you fail to proceed the next level, and stuck at somewhere.  So, what should we do?  Now, we should use different training method.


Training Methods

The above training method is the basic one: complete Rep by Rep of Full Range of Motion.


#1 Half Range of Motion

The first alternative is:  Half Range of Motion. (Half ROM).  Assume you can do 10 reps in height level #1.  But you cannot do 1 rep in height level #2.  At this time, you can do reps of Half ROM in height level #2.  aka, you don’t need to lower yourself to the bottom, See if you can handle this range.  If you can, train it for a while.  See you can slowly increase the range (aka lower) until the range can be full.

#2 Slow Negative

If you find the Half ROM method doesn’t work so well.  We have another one: Slow Negative.  This means:  the pushing part (UP) can be achieved by all means or all form of assistance.  Then the lower part (DOWN) need to be done slowly by yourself only.   If you can’t hold at the bottom, it is still alright.  Repeat the reps with about 5-6 reps/set.  The speed/tempo should be as slow as possible.  First start off with ~1 second.  Then hopefully later can be 2-4 seconds.  Slow Negative (Eccentric) is good for building strength and muscle.  So doing more will definitely help.


#3 Isometric Hold

Apart from the Slow Negative, there is also Isometric Hold.  At first, you can hold with a relatively high position.  The time is as long as possible.  When your strength increases, you can reach lower and then hold at there.  Or even you can hold the bottom, where is the hardest.  When you can handle 1x-2x seconds, your strength is good enough to go for Proper normal Push Up.


Although all the demonstration are using floor version.  But the above training methods can be applied to all progression, different height level.  The usage of these methods are meant to breakthrough the intensity gap between two progression.


Let’s do a summary.

  • #1: Half Range of motion:  Recommend: 10-12 reps.  When you can do that, then try Full ROM or slow negatives.
  • #2 Slow Negative:  Recommend: 2-4 seconds for 4-8 reps.  When you can do that, then try Full ROM.
  • #3 Isometric Hold.  Recommend: 1-2 rep/set for 10-12 seconds per set.  When you can do that, then try Full ROM.


Training Plan

Let’s recap the training for push Up.  You can train 2-3 times/week.  No need too many exercises or too high volume.  You just need to select the right progression/height.  Just train at the level you feel hard.  Do 4-6 sets are good enough.  The rest time can be longer, 2 min or more.  Since we are building strength for the first rep, and the strength training requires longer rest in sets for you to recover the muscle and nerves.  So, take a longer rest is absolutely alright.


One more time: Strength training is highly related to nervous system.  Muscle mass is rather not that related to the strength.  So you can build your strength without building significant amount of muscle.  All you have to do is: Train it more often.  So that you body starts to adapt to that intensity,  and it will become easier and easier.  And your strength is increasing along the way.  When you are capable of doing a Proper Push Up, training begins.

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