The Ultimate Push-Up Program is not just about push-ups. It’s a full-body workout broken into 4 phases that include a multitude of push-up variations as a focal point. Upper body pulling, core/abs and lower body are all worked thoroughly as well.
Two important parts of the program are personalization and progression. The workouts are personalized because every exercise tutorial shows you a way to make it easier and a way to make it harder.
Where you start doesn’t matter. What matters is that you gradually make the workouts more challenging over time. The Ultimate Push-Up Program has progression built in to guarantee there’s overload, which guarantees you increase in muscle, strength, and fitness.
Who Is The Trainer?
The program creator is Meghan Callaway. She’s a strength coach from Vancouver, B.C. with clientele ranging from elite athletes to post-injury rehab patients to the general population that wants to tone up and lose weight.
Meghan is a published writer and blogger who contributes to Shape Magazine, Girls Gone Strong, and many other fitness sites. Meghan also has a long athletic background. She played competitive soccer for 27 years and grew up playing ice hockey and baseball on boys teams.
Why Should You Listen To Her?
Aside from her academic credentials, including a human kinetics degree from the University of British Columbia, and years of experience (she’s been a certified trainer since 2003), Meghan walks her talk.
She’s in peak shape and routinely records impressive feats of strength in her videos. She’s not only proficient in advanced calisthenics, she’s strong enough to do a 100-pound weighted push up. It’s clear she uses her own program and it works.
What Kind Of Workout Routines Are These, Specifically?
The Ultimate Push-Up Program uses full body training because it’s effective and efficient. Full body workouts are also one of the best ways for people with general fitness goals to train.
This is not a physique training (cosmetic) program, but anyone who follows it will look a lot leaner and more muscular while building strength, fitness and coordination at the same time.
The program focuses on fundamentals, but doesn’t stop there. Meghan is known in the industry as an exercise innovator. She teaches unique exercise variations that keep you engaged and keep training fun.
There are 4 phases in the program:
Phase 1: You start out doing the most basic push-up regressions and accessory exercises.
Phase 2: You progress to regular push-ups, and more advanced accessory exercises.
Phases 3 and 4: Once you’re doing regular push-ups with ease, you move to advanced push-up variations, and even more challenging and unique accessory exercises.
Bonus Section: You learn 6 advanced push-up variations. These are elite moves only for people who have mastered the basics.
How Long Do The Workouts Take?
Most of the workouts have only 6 exercises and they’re done in superset pairs which saves a lot of time. I’m a huge fan of superset training for both effectiveness and time efficiency. With this amount of volume and the use of supersets, each workout only takes about 35 to 45 minutes.
Being the meathead I am, if I followed one of these routines, I’d probably also add a bicep and tricep superset. I train my calves directly too. Just keep in mind, if you add more, it will take a bit longer. Warm up and cool down time is also not counted here.
The workouts can be done 3 to 5 days per week, depending on your current fitness, your goals, and your schedule. Each phase lasts 4 to 12 weeks. The time can vary based on how you’re progressing.
What’s Included In The Ultimate Push-Up Program Package?
The Ultimate Push-Up Program is contained in a 240+ page manual that comes with a large collection of short online videos. In the videos you see Meghan personally demonstrating all the exercises.
There are introductory instructions in the first part of the manual and then you get the actual programs.
23 push-up variations are covered. There are 80 exercises in total for the whole body, if you count all 4 phases of the program. All the exercises come with a detailed written description, along with photos and a link to the video.
There are two bonus sections including the advanced push-ups, and a section on warm-up and mobility. These could have been separate downloads, but for convenient reference, they are both found in the back of the same big manual.
You also get workout charts that give you each workout at a glance. They indicate the exercise, sets, reps, tempo, and rest intervals, along with another link to the videos (also in the back of the manual).
Can You Do These Workouts At Home?
Being released in 2020, a year when more people than ever started working out at home, the program was designed with home trainees in mind.
The Ultimate Push-Up Program doesn’t require much equipment, and is very adaptable. If you can’t do an exercise because you don’t have the equipment at home – say a kettlebell – it’s not a problem, you can easily substitute something else.
If you prefer training in the gym, you can also follow the program there.
What Equipment Is Required?
The push-up is a bodyweight exercise. However, the number of push-up variations you can do increases dramatically when you have a handful of training tools.
Also, this is a full-body workout program, and to train every muscle in the body the best way, and allow optimal progression, some equipment is needed.
To do every exercise in the whole course, here’s the suggested equipment list:
TRX (suspension strap trainer)
Is The Program Good For Beginners?
Yes. This program will start you wherever you currently are, even if you don’t have a lot of strength or endurance yet. Then it will slowly but steadily lead you forward at your own pace.
Is The Program Good for Advanced Trainees?
Yes. If you’re already good at push-ups, you can jump ahead to advanced and novel push up variations. Or if you choose, you can learn how to increase your basic push-up numbers even higher, if push-up endurance and crushing rep records is one of your goals.
Isn’t This Program Geared Toward Women?
I’m sure the program will especially interest women because the trainer is a woman. But there’s no reason that men won’t equally benefit from these exercises and workouts.
Meghan has said that she does intentionally write to appeal to women, but it’s not because the workouts are for women only. It’s because she believes that women, while not necessarily neglected in the fitness industry in general, really are neglected when it comes to serious strength training. In fact, women are often discouraged from lifting hard and heavy.
She explained, “Women are often told to stick to cardio or use weighs that can fit into a small bag. This is insulting, unhelpful, and untrue. I wanted to make it clear that women are strong, just as capable as men, and can do whatever they choose. This includes push-ups, pull-ups, and everything else.”
Is This Program Any Good For Bodybuilders?
Meghan says that she doesn’t create or use workouts like these only for cosmetic purposes – her goals are geared more toward fitness, health, conditioning, and strength. However, in the process of achieving those “functional” goals she also says she ended up with the best physique she’s ever had.
This is why she doesn’t hesitate to call these types of workouts “functional bodybuilding.” As she put it, “Many people have aesthetic goals, but don’t want to sacrifice gains in strength, athleticism, and mobility.”
As an “old-school” aesthetics-focused bodybuilder, I might not follow these workouts exactly as prescribed. But a big benefit for me was learning new exercises and putting some of them into my own bodybuilding-style workouts.
Can The Ultimate Push-Up Program Be Combined With Other Programs?
The Ultimate Push-Up Program is a complete total-body stand-alone program, but if you’re following another workout, or you prefer another training style, you can blend the two if it makes sense for you.
Meghan says that powerlifters, Crossfitters, runners, and bodybuilders have all used her programs and exercises. Depending on your goals and interests, you don’t have to follow the program verbatim, you can pull out pieces and find a combination that works best for you.
Pros And Cons of the Ultimate Push-Up Program
No program is perfect or suitable for everyone, so here are the pros and cons of this one, as I see it:
Pros Of The Ultimate Push-Up Program
• Complete full body workout plans. Push-up focused, but not just a push-up program.
• Every exercise includes a regression and a progression (incredibly useful for customizing workouts)
• Detailed exercise instructions and coaching cues.
• Great detail on form nuances that usually aren’t known or well-coached. You learn bracing, body position, body path, hand spacing, hand position and how these details make a huge difference in your results.
• Strong emphasis on better technique and mental focus, not just cranking out reps.
• You learn common mistakes to avoid and also how some variations (like push-ups from the knees) are actually not ideal and what to do instead.
• Helpful info on avoiding injuries including the common wrist pain complaint.
• Unique exercises. Such as: Nordic leg curls, Hollow body hold Paloff press, Russian push-ups, long lever push up, push-up with one arm slide-out, One-arm row from plank, bird dog one-arm rows, one-arm row with dumbbell and band plus a lot more.
• Numerous push-up variations. There are 23 of them.
• Numerous exercises – 80 in total for the whole body. Many of these the average trainee will not have ever seen before.
• Strong emphasis on core strength. Meghan emphasises that push-ups are essentially moving planks and that core strength will make or break your success.
Cons of the Ultimate Push-Up Program
• There’s some anatomy and physiology jargon in the manual such as protracted scapulae, anti-extension, lumbo-pelvic stability, anterior pelvic tilt and so on. A beginner with no exercise science background might not be familiar with these terms and may not follow the discussion in a few places.
• Videos are online, not downloadable. The videos are excellent and feature Meghan herself, but I know some people prefer to download videos to have on their hard drive.
• It would be cool if all of the workout charts fit and printed neatly onto one page each. (Some of the bottoms of a single workout spread over into a second page).
The Final Verdict
The Ultimate Push-Ups Program is more than a list of push-up variations or progressions, more than a way to increase your push-up strength or endurance, and more than a book.
It is a complete multi-media (written and video) total body training program with multiple levels and outstanding exercise instruction. It includes inventive moves that even fitness pros may have never seen before.
If you’re interested in push-up, dumbbell, and band training with lots of ab/core work, that’s easily done at home, if you like calisthenics mixed with weights, if you’re bored with the usual stuff and you like variety and unique exercise variations, then you will want to try this program. You will find it well worth the investment.