Push-ups at your Desk

The push-up is the fundamental upper body exercise, it requires no equipment and can be done anywhere at any time. Push-ups are designed to help you build a rock solid core, define your chest, and tone your arms. It is an efficient movement that can be adapted to match the abilities of any wellness warrior. 

It’s helpful to think of a push-up as a moving plank, because that’s exactly what it is, in order to do a proper push-up you must maintain the same tension and posture as a plank throughout the entire movement.  

There are hundreds of different push-up variations designed to target specific areas, most commonly to increase the difficulty on either your core or your triceps. Below is a progression that can take you from your desk to the most difficult push-up variations in a few months time. Even if you’ve never done a push-up before if you stick with the strategy outlined below, you’ll be pushing like a pro in no time.

In an effort to make you into the push-up pro you were born to be, we are going to adopt a technique known as GTG or greasing the groove. The premise is to pick one exercise, and instead of training hard until failure, do a few sets throughout the day with perfect form at 40-50% of maximum difficulty. This methodology is incredibly effective when applied to one movement at a time, as it allows your body to master the mechanics of a particular movement.  Which is all justification for why I’m going to prescribe you 50 push-ups a day with perfect form using the variation of your choosing. Remember, you have all day to complete these push-ups, so whenever you are sitting at your desk and need a break, it’s push-up time.

As the days of 50 push-ups evolve into weeks, the push-up variations you choose should evolve as well. If you have never done a push-up before, start with the wall push-up. If this isn’t your first rodeo with the movement start with what you can perform with perfect form, and progress from there.

Luckily, an office setting is essentially designed with a push-up progression in mind. When first attempting a push-up it can be beneficial to practice on a wall, it is an easy warm up and a great way to dial in on your pushing mechanics.  

From there, your desk makes an excellent platform for your next progression. Doing assisted push-ups on your desk can offer you all the same benefits as the wall with added difficulty.

After the wall and the desk, it is time to move to the floor, the real deal. Remember it is always better to do easier push-ups with good form than harder push-ups with poor mechanics. If you need an intermediary step between the desk and the floor, you can do knee push-ups on the floor .  

Once you’ve mastered the floor push-ups, there are many of different variations to play with, including only using one foot, tricep push-ups, and spiderman push-ups.

Tricep Push-ups are great for building tricep definition:

A Spiderman Push-up is a variation designed to target your core and coordination:

These are two of my favorite advanced variations and once you can do 50 of these throughout a day it is time to up your prescription. In fact, let’s double it. 100 push-ups a day, it may sound daunting at first but if you can do 50 advanced variations of push-ups you shouldn’t struggle to a 100 regular push-ups or desk push-ups.

When you get to a few weeks of 100 advanced push-up variations, you get to try for the most difficult push-up of all, the one handed push-up, but we’ll cross that bridge once we get there. Throughout your push-up journey, listen to your body! If a day of tricep push-ups leaves you with jelly arms, then the next day do push-ups at your desk. There are no tough guy/gal awards given out here.

For now, go forth and give this technique a try. In a few weeks you’ll be shocked at how many push-ups you can do. Good luck greasing the groove at your desk!