Keep your fingers pressed downward to generate more pushup power.
Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
They're a marker of raw physical strength -- and for some people, cranking out a series of pushups is also necessary to keep a job. If you're in the military or law enforcement, failing to complete enough pushups with the correct form can mean eventual dismissal. Whether you're doing them for personal glory or because they're mandated, you'll improve your pushup results by examining your form and increasing your strength.1.
Warm up before every pushup workout by walking or doing a similar light cardio activity for five to 10 minutes. This will increase your blood flow and help you achieve an optimal performance.2.
Perform strength-training exercises that target the muscles you'll use during pushups. The pectoralis major is the main pushup muscle, so perform bench presses and fly exercises to strengthen your chest. Also do triceps kickbacks for the arms and overhead shoulder presses to strengthen your shoulders. Do one or two sets of each exercise, two or three days a week, using enough weight to fatigue your muscles at the end of each set.3.
Practice your pushup technique near a mirror or have a friend help you assess your starting position. Your body should form a long, straight line from your neck to your feet -- with a bump around the glutes, of course. If your torso is dipping, perform other core-strengthening exercises such as planks and various versions of the crunch. Also check your hand positions. They should be directly under your shoulders, or you'll lose significant strength.4.
Look straight down toward the floor while you're doing pushups. Looking up or to the side disrupts your alignment and diverts energy from the work at hand.5.
Press your fingers into the floor during your pushups, suggests trainer Chip Conrad in "Men's Health." This technique should generate more power.6.
Perform your pushups as fast as you can, while still maintaining correct form. If you're practicing pushups to pass a fitness test, good form is essential -- but you can allow momentum to work in your favor by progressing through each repetition quickly, says military fitness trainer Stew Smith.7.
Practice pushups often. One efficient way to perform better pushups is to actually do pushups -- so do them three or four days a week on non-consecutive days.
- If you're not strong enough to complete a full set of pushups, spend some time doing them on your knees to develop the strength necessary to do "regular" pushups safely and effectively. Do the majority of your training on your knees to start, but periodically check your form and attempt full pushups as well.