Scroll Top
obama push-ups

Push-ups are one of the biggest determiners of your upper body strength. They are intense, they make your arms shake, and there are 50 reasons why you can’t do them. Well, you can’t do them just yet, but soon you will. Read 50 reasons why you can’t do push-ups, and master the dreaded push-up in no time!

If you really want to perform better get our performance guide

Why You Can’t do Push-Ups

Here is the complete list of why you can’t do push-ups.

1. You have a desk job

When you sit at a desk all day, your body sits in a compromised position, and you rarely get up and get moving. There is also a slight chance that you eat at your desk, too. Your desk job is killing your fitness routine, and as a result, your push-ups are lacking. Think about the tasks you perform at your desk, none of it has to do with strength training or significant movement. You sit like a stone, doing the same movements, and you allow your body to collapse. Your desk job is destroying your body. The tips here will help you not only improve your push-up, but improve your desk-job body as a whole.

2. You work only your arms

Your push-up involves more than your arms. Sure, they shake like crazy when you go down and push yourself up, but they are not the only muscles working to complete a push-up, so they should not be the only muscles you strengthen to improve your push-up. Plus, you probably aren’t working your arms in the best way anyway.

When working your arms, work the biceps, triceps, and your deltoids. Here are a couple exercises to get your started.

  • Tricep dips
  • Arm circles
  • Plank shoulder tap
  • TRX Shift and Pike

3. Your core is weak

Yes, you do push-ups for abs, but you need to help out a little. If you are struggling to do a push-up to get the core you want, work on the core you have to get the push-up you want.

4. You are a runner

It is not uncommon for runners to have incredible speed and endurance, but lack upper body strength. Many runners cannot do push-ups, or good ones at least. Runners often need to incorporate cross-training and strength training into their daily workouts.

5. Your head isn’t in it

push-ups require more than a strong upper body. They require a clear and strong head, too. To train your body, train your mind. Intense mental training can enhance your endurance and performance, and it can improve your dedication. Mental training will transform your performance outside of the gym, too.

6. You thought a 30-day challenge was the answer

The infographics are appealing, but the results on the 30-day challenge everyone shares is not the answer to the perfect push-up. This is not realistic if you are learning how to do push-ups or improve your push-ups. This plan also lacks variety and instruction.

2016-05-20 30-day challenge print screen

7. Your breath is off

Breathe!!! Too many people forget to breathe when doing push-ups because they are too focused on the movement. Use your breath to guide your movements. Always keep air moving. Inhale when you go down, and exhale when you push up. During any workout, always exhale on the hardest part.

8. Your diet still sucks

There’s that. You have to change your diet if you want real results. A healthy diet provides your body with the nutrients and fuel necessary for your workouts. A healthy diet also helps improve your recovery time after hard workouts. You don’t need a smoothie fad, weight-loss pills, or miracle cures. You need the tools necessary to help you make better choices about the types of foods and amount of food that enters your body.

 9. You ignore your triceps

What does your arm day look like? For many, it involves workouts that work only the biceps. Don’t ignore the triceps. Not only will working your triceps prevent the underarm flag, but it assists in extending and retracting your forearm. Try these bodyweight exercises for stronger triceps.

10. Your shoulders are unstable

Work on shoulder stability with these exercises.

11. Your form is off

When doing a push-up, your body must be straight. Envision a ruler from the top of your head that runs down to your bottom. Remember this during every push-up movement.

12. Your butt is in the air

Your butt should not thrust up into the air. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your core to keep your butt from sticking out.

13. Your hands are too far apart

Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Don’t try different hand positions until you can master the standard push-up. Having the arms too wide will increase shoulder stress when you can’t control your body.

 14. You are too ambitious

You cannot hit the ground running when you start push-ups or when you improve your push-ups. Set realistic expectations that keep your form controlled and your body free from injuries. By the end of the week, try to get your first good one done, and then add a couple more each week after.

15. Your back is weak

Strengthen your back muscles, focusing on the lower back as much as the upper back.

16. Your elbows are kicked out to the side

Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle at your side. When you go down, do not flare them out. Envision yourself pushing a refrigerator away from your body. How would you do it? Now, do the same on the floor.

17. Your fingers are together

For stability, spread your fingers apart. This gives you more surface area on the ground. 

18. You think the wall is for suckers

It’s okay to start on the wall. The wall help you progress to push-ups on the floor. Just don’t get too comfortable on the wall, and don’t get lazy. Eventually, you will have to move to the floor.

19. Your head does what it wants

Stop allowing our head to flop around when you do push-ups. Make sure your neck is in a neutral position and that your head does not look all over the place. Pick a spot on the mat and look straight down at it. Many photos of people doing push-ups show them looking straight up at the camera. Don’t do that. You put unnecessary strain on your neck muscles.

20. Your neck muscles are weak

To hold your neck in a neutral position, you have to work your neck muscles. The neck muscles are weak, because of poor posture, driving, and screen time. When you neck muscles are weak, the rest of your body suffers.

21. Your buns are a little mushy

Fire those buns to get that push-up done. We talked about the plank, which is great for your glutes, but here are a few more exercises to tighten up those buns.

22. You confuse soreness with pain

If you think are in pain, you won’t continue. Yes, pain is possible if you have an underlying issue, but it is not the same as soreness. How do you tell the difference? Soreness usually occurs without 24 to 72 hours after completing an exercise. Soreness is achiness, tiredness, dull pain, and burning. Pain feels different. Pain is stabbing, aching, and sharp. Pain increases with activity, it requires medication, it occurs during exercise, and it does not decrease or go away after 24 to 72 hours.

23. Your wrists are weak

Your wrist must be stable, yet flexible, to support your push-up. During a push-up, don’t lock your elbows, face your hands forward, don’t twist your wrists, and don’t push your wrists beyond their normal range of motion. To avoid stressing your wrists, position your hands directly below your shoulders.

24. You avoid the warm-up

Warm up before any workout. Your push-up warm-up should include your chest, shoulders, and back.

25. You have previous injury

If you experience significant pain or you have to adjust your body to avoid pain, you need to talk to a medical professional. Consult a chiropractor, a physical therapist, or your physician about any pain you feel when working out.

26. You do half a push-up

You won’t build up to a regular push-up if you continue to cut yourself off halfway through. A half push-up is when you don’t go all the way down. Most beginners stop right before as their shoulders start to bend. Stay strong and keep going, but don’t allow your arms to cave or your elbows to flare out.

27. You forget you have legs

When doing a push-up, tighten your legs for better stability. Do not let your legs collapse when you do you push-up. They should be as solid at the top of your body is.

28. Your feet are too far apart, or too close

When you begin push-ups, keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Do not split them into a large ‘Y’, and don’t put them close together. You need stability, not a new challenge. When you learn the push-up, you can progress to different leg positions for more of a challenge.

29. You only think about the push

Yes, it is a push-up, but you can’t forget about the rest of the push-up. You need a strong foundation to get down.  Control the descent before you can successfully push up. When you are lowering yourself you are building eccentric strength, which will help your push-ups!

30. You prefer 10 bad ones over one good one

It is rewarding to brag about all the push-ups you can do in just a few seconds, but there’s nothing worth bragging about if they aren’t good ones. Ten terrible push-ups are detrimental to your success, and they do nothing for your endurance. Perfect a good one before you sloppily push out 10.

31. You stretch before

Ever since grade school you have been told to stretch before you work out. Stretching before your workout can hinder your performance instead of improving it. There is also no proof that stretching curbs injuries. Save the stretch for your post-workout recovery.

32. You want to get bigger, not better

Reevaluate your push-up goals. If your goal is to get bigger, you won’t get better. Your goal should be to get stronger, not to get bigger.

33. You still haven’t mastered the plank

Test your plank. To get a good push-up under your belt, perfect your plank. Working on your plank improves your core strength, and it helps you maintain the ideal form for your push-ups.

34. Your pelvis is unstable

A lot of your stability comes from your hips. You know to focus on your core and to tighten your glutes, but you also need to improve your pelvic strength.

35. You are too comfortable with modified push-ups

Modified push-ups are a great way to build up to a traditional push-up, but the key to a good push-up is pushing yourself past your comfort level. If you are too comfortable with your modified push-ups, you aren’t building muscle, your muscles are bored, and you have zero desire to challenge yourself to straighten your knees. You must push yourself to become better, progressive overload.

36. You give up

Speaking of challenging yourself, stop giving up. Keep practicing until you can master the first push-up. Will it be immediate, no, but what it? Keep working on the one push-up so you can move on to the next step. Always show up to try again!

37. You don’t push yourself

Now that you mastered the initial push-up – without modifications – push yourself to add one more. If you don’t push yourself past the point of comfort, your push-up will cease to be effective.

38. You are doing the worm

Take stock of your body position when you do your push-up. Most people do the worm instead, which means their bellies droop, their backs sang, and the knees do all the pushing. This is great for a 90s throwback party, but it would help you do a proper push-up.

39. You are straining your neck

Do not strain your neck forward or back. When doing a push-up, your neck should be straight and neutral. No matter where you do push-ups, you don’t want to lick the floor…trust me.

40. You watch too many exercise DVDs

Exercise DVDs are great and get people in shape, but they don’t tell the entire story. When you watch exercise DVDs, you don’t get feedback on your form, you are less likely to push yourself, and you do the same DVD over and over again. If you are going to use workout DVDs, research the proper form for each movement, remember to push yourself through the repetitions – even though the person can’t see you, and pop in a new variety the next day. In fact, try a new DVD each day of the week.

41. You lack variety in your workout

For better push-ups, stop doing push-ups. Your body is tired of the same old push-up that you have been working on. Change up your push-up routine with this progression guide.

42. You are not drinking enough water

Have you looked at the color of your urine lately? If you are dehydrated, your pee and your muscles will let you know. Dehydration causes muscle weakness and tiredness, as well as decreased blood flow. Your lack of water is wearing your body out.

43. You are overconfident

If you are reading this, you are trying to do push-ups. Don’t get too confident when you hit the floor. Take it slow and easy. Too much confidence results in poor body mechanics, stress injuries, and lack of control.

44. Your belly touches the mat

When you do a push-up, don’t let your belly touch the mat. If you are a beginner, and your belly touches the mat, you have lost control of the movement and integrity in your form. Your sternum can touch the mat when doing a properly, but the tops of your legs and your stomach must not. You cannot get up in a controlled manner from this position.

45. You compare yourself to others

If you look to the internet for push-up help, or you are at the gym with others, you might find yourself comparing your push-ups to theirs. Don’t. If you are comparing yourself, you are actually telling yourself what you are doing wrong. They have been doing this longer than you have, and at one point, everyone started out with the very same push-up you are trying. Don’t compare yourself to others. Track your own progress and get excited about your victories, not theirs.

46. You have poor posture

Poor posture during the day results in poor posture when you do a push-up. Your head sinks down, your neck bows, and your shoulders are rounded, just like they are during the day. Always be aware of your posture and make small adjustments to keep your body inline. Do this while sitting at your desk, standing in line at the grocery store, and even when you are making dinner or watching television.

47. You are trying a weird push-up fad

Before you go crazy with weird push-ups you found online, why don’t you try to tackle the basic push-up first. Master the push-up before you try one with a wine glass on the floor or a ball under your feet.

48. Your knees are weak

You need stable knees to support your body position when you do a proper push-up. If your knees to begin to fall, engage your calves, your quads, and your glutes to reawaken your knees.

49. Your chest is too tight, or too weak

push-up rely on your chest muscles to get you down and up, but many people focus only on the arms. Open your chest and tighten it up with these workouts.

 50. You lack support

Working out alone is boring sometimes. We all need motivation and support. Without it, you are less likely to push yourself, find the right form, or feel inspired to start your push-ups in the first place. Find a workout buddy, take a class with others, or work with a personal trainer to get the support your need for a successful push-up.

As you can see, more goes into the push-up than you realize. Many mental, physical, and daily obstacles prevent you from mastering the push-up, but it can be done. Check out this push-up progression and regressions guide.

Also, if you’re looking for serious help with your push-up, find a personal trainer and get serious about your performance!

If YOU are in the Bay Area, Apply for a performance screen