Most people believe that the way to get stronger using push-ups is to keep increasing the number of reps. While this is one way to get stronger, if it is used exclusively it can cause injury and stagnation. Other methods to build strength include:
- Decrease rest intervals. Cutting breaks between sets increases endurance faster than trying to complete the same volume in one set.
- Rest-pause. Power lifters break through plateaus by inserting five- to 15-second pauses between reps. You can do the same thing with push-ups.
- Interval sets. Time the sets instead of counting reps so you can focus on form rather than numbers. The payoff is usually more reps.
- Overhead lifting. It may seem odd that performing another lift would help your push-up training, but overhead lifting helps range of motion of the shoulder joints and also strengthens the trunk and hips.
The ideal way to perform a push-up is to retard, not advance, the body as it lowers; the nose, chest, belly, thighs, and pelvis are each in sort of a race to see which can reach bottom last, not first. A drop of the middle (belly sagging), lifting of the butt in the air, or stopping and resting at any point terminates the set. Speed is not a major concern. The standard for perfection is slow and deep, with a body absolutely perfectly straight and taut.