CFA - Pushups


Nov 29, 2016
I've been prepping for the CFA over the summer, but I'm continuously struggling with push-ups. I know the DPE is strict on posture, so I want to make sure I get it right.

I've been following Stew Smith's plan: 200 push-ups in the least amount of sets for 10 days, rest for 3, and test on the day 14. I do knee-push ups and staircase push ups instead (while trying to do as many full reps) since I am unable to do 200 full reps. My biggest issue is making my arms parallel to the ground and getting that 'full' rep.

If anyone has tips/advice for how I can better achieve 'full' reps, not just half ones, please let me know. I have looked at YouTube videos, threads on here, and articles; they've helped so far, but any further advice would be appreciated.
Try different spacings of your hands. Try wide pushups, normal pushups, and diamond pushups. Also, try less reps with more weight.
I personally wasn't a fan of Stew Smith's book and workout plan--it's a bit much and ill conceived. What DID work for me, however is a free iTunes app called Just 6 Weeks: 100 push ups. It may or may not be on the play store; I haven't looked.
You can also do 'bench press' exercises with lighter dumbells while lying on your back. More reps with lighter weight; still uses the same muscles.
Lots of variations; can do on the floor don't need a bench.

Get your reps in this way and then work up to full weight pushups.
First of all, I'd make sure you're following the Push-up Push program properly. I'm actually doing it right now to prepare for a PRT at reform for USNA! The way I understand it, you alternate between max rep sets on odd days, and do less-than-max sets throughout the day. This alternates between actually overloading your muscles (odd days) and then just developing muscle memory (even days).

I think it's a great program for pushing yourself and working on numbers, but for actually building a good foundation with the push up, not as much.

If you're having trouble doing the actual push ups, I recommend looking up progressions and variations, like you're doing with the knee and staircase. If you're working on ROM, practice the full range by lying completely on the floor when you go down, and pushing yourself up from that. Focus on good posture. No swinging or sagging.

If you're looking for sets just to get better, there are plenty of apps with good rep schemes. I'm also always a big supporter of the pyramid or ladder approach. It follows 1...2...3...n...3...2...1 pattern (do 1 push-up, rest, 2 push up, rest...etc) With these you can either make n a set number (going up to 10 gives you 100 total) or try going as high as you can until failure, then descend.

Last bit of advice I can offer, doing more push ups makes you better at push-ups, in both physical and mental sense. You don't have to be doing huge numbers of reps to succeed. Just try to do some push ups everyday.

Seems like you're already working hard and effort and consistency matters most of all. Good luck and hope something in here helped!
Thank you all so much. I am looking into everything you all have mentioned right now and will try everything. I agree that doing more push ups will make me better at push ups!
Hey! I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to pushups. I've done a lot of research, and come to the conclusions that knee pushups really don't help you with true form pushups; they only help you get better at doing knee pushups. I've found the only way to get better at pushups is doing pushups. With that in mind, I'd recommend trying the 100 pushups in 6 weeks program. They start at relatively low reps, and I'm sure you'll see improvement very quickly. Good luck!
In my experience, hands-on is the way to go. Try talking to your coach, a PE teacher even. Somebody who's 'experienced' in the proper push-up procedure, and who can physically watch and instruct you.

For example: My running stature wasn't perfect for a long time, and I knew this. I tried watching videos and the like, but it didn't fully sink in. Only when I was physically talking and observing my PE teacher show me- then instruct me or correct me when I was doing it- did it sink in. Good luck though. :)