With so many challenging variations of exercises to choose from, plain-old push-ups couldn’t seem more basic. But despite being one of the easiest-to-follow moves, it’s also one of the most difficult, making even the strongest fitness buffs work up a sweat. So, if you’ve ever wished your fitness fairy god mother would make the move just a little bit easier, you’re not alone and you’re in luck.
Carla Smith, the founder of Roller Derby Athletics, recently shared a YouTube video featuring her tricks to making push-ups easier. Aside from lessening the burn you feel in the moment (always a plus!), the simple tweaks will make you stronger over time. “When we think about modifying push-ups, we usually think about doing them from our knees—and that’s fine,” she says. With that being said, she has more effective ways to perform the move that will have you doing the real thing in record time.
Two tricks to make push-ups way easier
1. Use an elevated surface: The first way Smith recommends modifying push-ups is doing them on an elevated surface. “An even better way to work your way up to doing full push-ups is to elevate your hands,” she says. Once you can do three or four sets of 10 to 15 on a surface that’s kitchen counter or table height, lower to doing them on something that’s bench height then six inches off the ground. Pretty soon, you’ll be on your mat.
2. Focus on the downward motion: Instead of trying to do the entire push-up at once, start by focusing on doing the downward motion very slowly. “Eccentric contractions are a really great way to strengthen quickly. All you do is descend slowly all the way to the bottom of the push-up, then recover by putting your weight onto your knees and back up to the plank,” Smith says. Even though you’ll still feel the burn, it won’t be nearly as bad—promise.
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