If no matter what you do you can never do more than 10 pushups and feel like a weakling, there’s a solution that’ll turn your embarrassing pushups into power pushups.

Many men and women try to do more than 10 pushups at a time, and on a good day may reach 12 – after struggling on the last three and feeling humiliated.

Thirty, even 20 pushups in a set seems like an impossible goal.

I’m going to give you the solution to this “embarrassing” problem. But not before I ask a few questions:

• Why is it so important to do more than 10 pushups?

• Do you feel this way about other chest exercises?

• Are you always trying to do more than 10 bench presses, lying dumbbell presses and seated chest presses?

• If not why not? Why is getting more than 10 so crucial for the pushup?

Where is it engraved in the annals of muscle building science that doing 20 pushups is vital for results?

The reason you feel you must do a lot more than 10 pushups is perhaps ingrained in having observed or participated in training for a various sport or discipline.

For instance, martial arts instructors typically have students do up to 50 pushups in a single set.

Military training often includes dozens of pushups in a row. More than 10 is also common in workout videos.

End the Embarrassment of Tanking After Only 10 Pushups

Apply the eight to 12 rep max to your pushups as you would to your bench press, dumbbell press and seated chest exercises.


If you can only do 10 standard pushups, have you ever thought of adding resistance to those 10?

You might surprise yourself and find that, with a 10 pound plate on your middle/upper back, you can actually STILL DO 10 repetitions!

But by increasing the resistance, you are giving your muscles additional stimulation – a greater training stimulus that will force them to adapt.

So instead of working towards increasing the number of reps, work towards increasing the resistance within that limited number of 10.

And even if the addition of small weight on your back brings your set down to five, that’s okay – nothing embarrassing – you now have a new goal:

Ten reps of pushups with the weight on your back. When you reach this new goal, add more weight.

NOTE: You may need someone to set the weight on your back and remove it, though it’s possible to add plates without assistance. You can also use a weighted vest.

What will make you stronger and build more muscle?

• 50 bodyweight-only pushups?

• Or 10 pushups with a 35 pound plate on your back?

Look at it this way. Which will build your muscles better?

• 20 reps of a 135 pound bench press?

• Or eight reps of 185 pounds?

• 50 bodyweight-only squats?

• Or 10 squats with 185 pounds?

Stop treating pushups as a cardio exercise (gunning for lengthy sets composed of high reps) and start treating this exercise like the compound move it actually is. This will cure the embarrassment.

Other ways to add intensity without shifting emphasis to the shoulders include:

  • Using chains
  • Having someone press down on your upper back as you push up
  • Using “pushup handles” which will increase your range of motion at the bottom
  • SLIGHTLY elevating your feet (mild shift of emphasis to the shoulders).

Freepik.com, drobotdean

You will never feel embarrassed doing “only” 10 reps of pushups with a 45 pound plate on your back!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/ Slatan