Pushups are an important part of the Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT. They're also used often as a demonstration of power and stamina, which is why the more pushups you can do, the better shape you are considered to be in. if your pushup power leaves something to be desired, don't despair. There are a number of things you can do if you need to get better at it, especially if you have to do it fast.
Warm up your muscles first. This will get the blood flowing and get your arms ready for the workout. A warm-up doesn't have to take long or be complicated. Just doing circles with your arms for about a minute should suffice. Remember, the goal is just to get the muscles warm so you don't jump into the pushups directly and risk injuring yourself.
Try the Military.com method, which suggests doing a number of repetitions -- as many as you can -- in the close-grip position before resting. The close-grip position requires you to place your arms under your chest, so your hands are actually close to each other, thumbs touching; this is sometimes known as a "diamond pushup." Then repeat in the normal grip position -- hands at shoulder width -- before you rest again. Do a final set with a wide grip, where your arms are more open toward the sides, wider than shoulder width. If you're an absolute beginner, start on your knees -- or alternate a set of pushups on your knees with one on your toes.
Do as many repetitions as you can in each set, but keep track. To get better at it fast, you need to increase the number of pushups you do on a regular basis. That means that if your sets included 20 pushups yesterday, they should include 21 today, 22 tomorrow and so on. You might need to increase the numbers faster, depending on how much time you have to achieve your goal.
Try decline pushups once you see your numbers getting better. Decline pushups are harder than standard pushups because your feet are higher than your head. To do these, just place your feet on a stool, a step or a bench, then bend forward and perform your standard normal-grip pushups. For an added challenge, try the close/normal/wide routine of pushups.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.