Skip to main content

The question:

I've been doing lat pull-downs, biceps curls, triceps work and rowing exercises, but I can't do even one push-up. Please help.

The answer:

Story continues below advertisement

No worries - we will get you doing push-ups in no time.

Stage 1: Do exercises that simulate the motion of a push-up, such as flat and inclined bench presses.

Stage 2: Work in a rep range that allows you to lift heavy-enough weights. If you regularly lift light weights for 15 reps, incorporate cycles where you lift heavier weights for six to 10 reps.

Stage 3: Do "negative" push-ups. Get into a push-up position on your knees or toes depending on your level. Lower yourself as slowly as possible all the way to the ground (a count of 8 to 10). Rather then pushing yourself back to the starting position, let your chest rest on the ground, then push your bum back over your feet to get up.

Negative push-ups are useful for two reasons: They get the body used to working in the lower range of the push-up motion and they help build strength because you can always lower more weight than you can lift.

Trainer's Tip: It's likely that after a few months your push-up strength will plateau. When this happens, try performing negative push-ups wearing a weighted vest.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Report an error
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.