If you’re trying to expand your push-up repertoire, you can take it up a notch by playing with movement speed. Instead of raising and lowering yourself for the same length, you can lower yourself slowly, then push off quickly and forcefully, which will challenge your strength and control.
“Tempo push-ups are great if you’re working on building strength,” says Kat Atienza, a trainer and founder of Sessions in Brooklyn. “You’re going a little slower to build that force to push off the floor.”
The reason changing the tempo adds a new dimension to a strength-building move like a push-up is that it increases your muscle’s tension time, which is when your muscles are actively lengthening or contracting. Going more slowly will also enforce good form, which will ensure you’re doing the exercise correctly and getting the most out of it.
But to perform this type of push-up with good form, you need to know the correct way to perform the move and avoid common pitfalls. Fortunately, Atienza is here to break it down.
Here’s how to do a tempo push up
1. Start in a plank pose
Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders, not too far forward.
2. Lower for three seconds
At the bottom bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body, which should keep them close to your rib cage (not straight out to the side).
3. Push back up in one second
Keep your hips in line with your shoulders, moving as a whole unit. Don’t raise your chest before you are able to raise your hips. If this is too challenging, keep your knees on the ground once you reach the bottom of the movement, allowing you to still push in one piece.
Watch Atienza demonstrate all of these in the video above to make sure you’re doing your tempo push-ups the right way.