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how to do push ups when you're fat

Since 2020, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to work out from home.  Times are changing, and now that I work from home, sometimes I also like to work out from home.  Doing pushups is a great way to get a workout from home, with no equipment.  But, I wondered, can a fat person do pushups?

Pushups seem like a difficult bodyweight exercise that gets harder the heavier you are!  But, I learned how to do a proper pushup, and you can too!

Let me tell you how to do pushups when you’re fat!

If you’re new to the pushup game, the best thing to do is to start slow!  Basically, you want to keep the incline angle of your pushup high, and your reps low!  This means you might start out doing 3 pushups against the wall.  Don’t worry, no matter your size you can improve your pushups!

Let’s talk about some of the reasons you might want to learn to do a pushup, and why it might be harder for fat people to do one!

What Are The Benefits of Pushups?

There are so many great reasons to learn how to do a pushup correctly.  It’s empowering to be able to push your body up off of the ground.  It’s also nice to have good form if you decide to start working out in a group or in a cross-fit class. Everyone deserves to feel confident in their own bodies, especially while working out.

If you’re not convinced, let me tell you some more great benefits of doing a pushup!

You Can Do Them Anywhere, Anytime!

Pushups, like squats, are a bodyweight exercise!  This means you don’t need any fancy equipment to master the pushup.

If you really want to learn how to do a pushup, you can schedule them into your day.  IF you work from home, one of your daily breaks can be a pushup break!  Even if you work in an office, you could still find a way to squeeze a few pushups into your day.

Don’t be embarrassed if you get a little sweaty!  It’s normal for fat people to sweat more.  Plus, sweating is a healthy way for your body to get rid of toxins!

They Workout A Lot of Muscles in Your Body.

Pushups are a great exercise to focus on because they work so many of your muscles!

Without getting too technical, pushups strengthen your shoulders, chest, back, core, and potentially even your lower body!  Strengthening your muscles is never a bad idea!  Strong muscles reduce and prevent injuries, like sprains and broken bones.

Another important muscle pushups workout is your heart!  When you do pushups regularly, your cardiovascular system should start to improve.

They Are Calorie Burners.

Traditionally, when people talk about calories, they are talking about losing weight!  don’t worry, I’m not interested in losing weight, just becoming a healthier version of myself.

The more calories you burn in a day, the more snacks you can eat without putting on more weight!  As a plus-size person who is happy at their current weight, I see this as a big bonus!

The reason that pushups burn so many calories is that they engage so many of your muscles, as we mentioned above.  When your muscles are active and engaged, they are using energy (calories).

They Improve Your Posture.

The most underrated benefit of doing pushups is that your posture will improve!  I know posture is something we could all probably work on!

This again has to do with the strengthening of all those muscles in your upper body!  Your core becomes stronger over time and will hold your spine a little bit straighter, without you even thinking about it.

But, why do we care about posture?

Well, having a naturally good posture is a great defense against back and neck pain.  I know that if I am slouching at my computer all day I will pay for it later through pain in my lower back!  To be able to naturally improve posture through an exercise is amazing!

Can You Injure Yourself While Doing Pushups?

Everything in life comes with a little risk!  Even your morning commute to work or to coffee is a statistically dangerous activity!

Luckily, pushups are not exceedingly dangerous.

That being said you can still injure yourself while doing a pushup!

The most common injury from pushups is the feeling of pain in the lower back.  You might also feel pain or pressure in your wrists and elbows, if you’re locking them out or putting too much weight on them.

These injuries are mainly a product of bad form.  If you aren’t able to do a pushup in good form, you should try a modified version.  To prevent injury, here are some tips on good form for a pushup.

What Is Good Form For A Pushup?

In many things in life, we prefer quality over quantity!  This is also true for pushups!

It’s not about how many pushups you do but more about how good your form is!  With good form, you will get more benefits from the same workout.

Here are some tips for good pushup form:

  • Keep your pelvis tilted under and your butt squeezed tight
    • Don’t let your hips droop, this can hurt your lower back
  • Place your wrists in line with your shoulders for standard pushups
    • Don’t put your hands in front of or behind your shoulders
  • Keep your elbows from flaring out to the sides when you lower down
  • Go all the way up and down, don’t use your head or hips to cheat
  • Engage your shoulder blades
    • When you push up, your shoulder blades should come together
    • When you go down, your shoulder blades should come apart

To get a visual of these steps to good form, watch this video!

Here, you can see all of the steps needed to make a perfect pushup and protect yourself from injury.

Now, if you’re like me, looking at this and saying, no way can I do that, keep reading!

What’s The Best Way To Get Started?

It’s true that pushups are harder for fat people!  That’s just a fact!  But that’s what makes it even better when you start to feel confident doing them!

You CAN get better at doing pushups as a fat person, you just need to know where to start for your individual needs and body!

Start By Practicing Against A Wall.

If you start by doing pushups flat on the ground, you might become frustrated and fail.  Even skinny people can have a hard time doing a true standard pushup!

Start by doing your pushup against a wall. Pushups against a wall are easier because you can adjust how much weight is on your muscles.   This is also the stage where you can really practice your form.  If you feel like wall pushups are a challenge, keep practicing.  If you find that they’re easy, you can start to move your feet further and further away from the wall.

Move On To A Counter Top Or A Windowsill.

Next, you can try doing your pushups at a lower angle.  This will put more of your body weight onto your muscles as you glide down and push up!

Pick a strong surface that isn’t slippery.  Your kitchen counter might be perfect for this!

Again practice at this level.  Always make sure your form is good and if you feel pain in your body, go back to wall pushups.

Go To The Floor And Lower Your Knees.

Your next step is to get down on the floor!  Before you go for a full pushup, try this modification.

I remember they used to call these “girl pushups” in high school!  But, I’ll call them knee pushups!

This modification is a great way to practice pushups without your full body weight on your wrists. Check out this quick video to see how you should hold your body while doing knee pushups.

Try A Full Pushup!

Your last modification is to try a full pushup!

Remember, form over reps.  That means if you’re not able to do one with good form, you might not be ready for this step yet!  Take it slow and you will get there.

If you are only able to do a couple of these pushups, then that’s fine!  Doing a couple reps of full pushups is something to be proud of!

Don’t Forget To Enjoy Your Pushups!

Whatever your motivation is for wanting to learn to do a pushup, remember you can have fun while doing them.  Make them a fun part of your day that you can be proud of yourself for afterward.   Don’t overdo it, and always check in with your body after a workout.

As long as you keep your form good, you should be safe to get started today!

Camila R.

Camila is a body positive blogger and fat activist that's focused on helping people of all sizes live life big! That means accepting yourself at any size and just enjoying life! She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two chihauhuas.

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