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Push Ups Level 1 - Get Off Your Knees!

Published 7th June 2016


What you need to know

The following programme and associated spreadsheet and video is designed to increase the push up strength of individuals who can perform the following:

  • 0-5 Push Ups
  • A 20 second Plank Hold


The 6 week programme consists of 3 sessions per week, each of which should take between 15 and 30 minutes.


Depending on your starting strength, individuals can expect to be able to do between 1-15 Push Ups by the end of the programme.


Having healthy shoulders and adequate range of movement about the shoulder will enable faster progress. Attempting to perform exercises that are beyond your level of competency will result in poor form and slow progress.


The video at the bottom of the article shows a demonstration of all the exercises required as part of the programme.


To get the most out of the programme we strongly recommend booking a session with a coach before you start to ensure you are performing the exercises and programme correctly.


Push Ups Level 1 - The Programme

Download the Push Ups Level 1 Programme via Dropbox here. Print it off and use it alongside the video and exercise notes in this article to get the most out of the programme.


Warm Up and Activation

Perform a 3-5 minute steady Row before each session.

Part A in each session should be performed as a superset. You should be able to complete each set comfortably and not be close to failure at any point.


Push Ups and Variations

For Push Up variations all of the following should be adhered to:

- The difficulty of Push Ups, Negatives and Bottom Position Holds can be adapted by changing the angle of your body relative to the floor. By increasing your body angle by putting your hands on a raised platform the exercise becomes easier. The higher the platform the easier the exercise will be.

- Set up in the top position with elbows locked out and a straight body. There should be no change in the body line from your heels to your head throughout the exercise.

- In the descent the elbows should travel backwards at 0-60 degrees. Make sure they don't flare out to the side excessively.

- In the bottom position shoulder blades should be retracted and depressed (back and down), your chest should be in line with your hands and lightly in contact with the floor (or whatever surface your hands are on), and only your hands and feet should be resting on the floor.

- On the ascent, Push Up as fast as you can making sure to maintain your body line.


Push Ups

Scale Push Ups by using a box or raised platform for your hands. To start the programme find a box height where you can do 5 good Push Ups and use this same height for all Push Ups throughout the 6 weeks.


Assisted Push Ups

On week 1 find a band that allows you to perform the sets and reps unbroken and with good form. The same band should be used for all 6 weeks of the programme. As well as the thickness of the band, the height and angle you set the band at will affect the assistance it provides so try and ensure these remain constant throughout the 6 weeks.



Start with a 1 second pause in the top position. Descend at a constant speed over 5 seconds to the bottom position. Finish with a 1 second controlled hold in the bottom position. Negatives should be performed at an angle where you can do at least 1 perfect push up.


Bottom Position Hold

From the top position of your press up, descend until your chest is 1cm off the floor (or box) and hold for the stated amount of time. Make sure you maintain the same strong body position throughout. In week 1 you will need to find a body angle that you can hold for at least 10 seconds. Use this angle for the first 3 weeks. In week 4 decrease your body angle by reducing the height of the surface your hands are on.


Assistance Exercises

Bench Press

The programme starts with a 1RM Bench Press. You will be using a percentage of this 1RM throughout the programme and retesting your 1RM in week 6. For the Bench Press use a hold the bar just outside shoulder width.


DB Chest Press

On week 1 find a weight that allows you to perform the sets and reps unbroken and with good form. The same weight should be used for all 6 weeks of the programme. 




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