While doing regular pushups over a long period of time, here are some simple tricks I have learned. You can employ them to go beyond what you ever thought was possible for you. Many of the following tips are valid for just about any other exercise as well.
- First and foremost, the posture and angles of different parts of the body should be quite accurate. Remember that you have to do this exercise for a long long time (maybe until the end) and any small errors in formation will accumulate in creating disorder and/or pain for some joints. The best form I have found is by Steve of nerdfitness.com: How to do a Proper Pushup.
- On the first day, do as many pushups as you can and count the number. Set your maximum limit to 70% of that number. For example, if your maximum was 40, make a regular routine of x number of reps, each of 0.7×40 = 28 pushups. Every new week, increase this number by 1. Within a year, you will be touching a number just short of 100. Your muscles and body mass will build so slowly that it will take almost the same amount of effort to do 100 pushups as it took to do those 28 in the beginning.
- If a natural rhythm does not set in after the first few pushups, you are doing something wrong. Stop immediately. And restart after some pause. A natural rhythm is just like riding a bicycle: effort is still being exerted but there is a natural harmony in which pedals are being rotated.
- Count the pushups forward in the first half, then in reverse in the second half. For the same example of 28, count from 1 to 14, then from 14 to 1. It is much easier to go from 14 to 1, as compared to 15 to 28. That’s right: you can fool the mind even if it knows that you’re fooling it. We humans are like that. Why do you think the price of many items in the market end on a 9 instead of an even number? Buying a product for $49 is easier than buying it for $50.
- Another mindhack you can use is the following strategy. Suppose that you complete a set of 8 reps of x pushups each day. Keep 8 pins close by and after every set, pull one towards you and place it somewhere else (don’t push). First, it will help in keeping a count of actual number of reps. Second, it will help psychologically by portraying the exercise as something you eagerly take (entertainment) as compared to something you have to take (responsibility). Pushing something away is different than pulling the same thing towards oneself.
- Don’t stop at raising the body after the last pushup. Instead, stop at going down during the last+1 pushup. That helps in breaking momentum gradually and will cause less stress on arms and shoulders.
- Finally, here is a simple trick to succeed in doing 2 or 3 extra pushups in the last rep. Suppose that you are used to doing 60 pushups every time. Before you finish and stand up after the 60th, try this: instead of exerting force on the ground to lift yourself up on your arms, imagine that you are standing somewhere in space and lifting the whole earth on your arms.