The push-up is as awesome exercise. There is no avid trainer in the world who hasn’t done it, as it’s a cornerstone piece and can fit into just about any fitness regime. However, many people still don’t look like they lift, because they suck at doing push-ups the right way.
Doing them the correct way can make them a challenge that will blast your chest and get you big, bringing you to a whole new level of body weight strength you never imagined.
Aim to perform proper push-ups using the form detailed in the article below. If you want to test yourself, pause at the top and add a second pause at the bottom to completely eliminate any use of momentum. Feel the movement all the way through, feel the blood rushing to your chest, pumping as you know for certain it’s growing and getting bigger.
Push-Ups Aren’t Just For Beginners
Most people and trainers assume the push-up is an exercise only for beginners, but they’re sadly mistaken. Although the push-up is an extremely popular exercise among people of all fitness levels (due mainly to its ease of access and familiarity), it’s not a move you should stop doing once you’ve advanced beyond the noob stage of fitness.
Even though many people perform push-ups with faulty reps and aren’t even aware they are cheating, the push-up can result in massive chest gains when performed properly. It can also be performed in a variety of different manners, some easier than the original, some much harder. It takes a great amount of strength, coordination, balance and body awareness to do them properly.
When you are performing the push-up correctly, you press up about 70% of your total body weight. This move also requires you to invest significant energy into coordinating your total body motor skills. Not many trainers would even believe a complete beginner would already have full body motor skills at a fully developed level. In this text, we’ll identify the most common training mistakes and proper technique, so you can master push-ups and get massive pecs that turn hoes’ necks.
1. Keep a Straight Body
One of the things you’ll see many shmucks with crappy form doing is sagging their back while doing push-ups. This is completely wrong, proper push-up technique is positioning your back to be in a straight line with your body. Many people will even wrongly assume the top of the glutes is a point of alignment together with the knees, shoulders and ankles.
Make sure you avoid that mistake. The straight line of a proper push-up is formed with the following five points of alignment: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and head. If you don’t want to remember all that, just remind yourself to keep your back straight with your whole body.
2. Maintain the Natural Curve
Strive to maintain the natural curvature in your spine, particularly the lumbar region. In fact, the proper push-up position is very similar to the proper standing position, with a natural curve in your lumbar keeping your shoulders back. It’s never good to see someone sagging their shoulders forward.
In order to reduce the chance of anterior pelvic tilt and inward lumbar curve, aim to pull your abdominal muscles in and keep your hips up. Don’t let your gut hang down down below the torso.
3. Keep Your Hips Up
It’s always better to keep your hips high than low. When the hips are positioned high, they will trigger more activation of extension-resisting forces, which will definitely not make the push-up easier and challenge you even more. Although this position isn’t the most ideal all the time, it doesn’t pose any sort of risk to your spine, which you can find in other push-up positions.
On the contrary to this, positioning your hips too low will reduce the activation of your chest muscles, shifting some of the focus to the spine, which is what you don’t want. This shortens the range of motion, making it easier to cheat and even though you might be able to get in more push-ups, they will be of sh*tty quality and wear down your spine little by little.
4. Elbow Positioning
Probably the biggest mistake you’ll ever see with people doing push-ups (and bench press for a matter of fact) is flaring the elbows too wide. By doing this, you’re just begging for some acute and chronic injury to your joints, rotator cuffs and muscles. Many trainers would recommend having your elbows at a 45-degree angle, which is much better then flaring them all the way out—although still not ideal.
The ideal posture would be to have your scapulae (shoulder blades, for those who aren’t nerds) fully retracted and rotated toward the spine (think about squeezing a tennis ball with your shoulder blades). To achieve this, the elbow position will move much closer to the torso, but you will definitely feel much better when performing push-ups.
5. Proper Shoulder positioning
The proper elbow and shoulder position go hand in hand, It’s tough to have one without the other. What you want is to retract and depress the shoulders, rotating at the same time you bring your scapulae towards the spine which will inadvertently make your chest go out.
This improves the interaction between the scapula and the humerus. The main phase to remember is to keep your upper back tight by imagining you’re trying to crush a tennis ball in between your shoulders blades.
6. Feet Positioning
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the push-up (or any upper body movement) is feet positioning. You have to have your feet properly positioned if you wish to get the most out of the movement. It’s crucial you stand on your toes as much as you can. Ideally, the balls of the feet shouldn’t make contact with the floor, it should be the toes supporting most of the weight.
It’s probably best for you to experiment what feet position works best for you. Some people find they work best with the feet closer together, others are on the opposite spectrum and enjoy them spread further apart. Either way, knowing which way you are at your best helps complete the most reps and milk the most from your workouts. Feel free to experiment on this.
7. Arm Angle
Put simply, the longer your arms, the less leverage you have, and the shorter your arms, the more leverage you have. That’s why people with the biggest bench press always seem to have the shortest, fastest arms. You can also apply this concept to the push-up.
In order for you to maximize your ability to create force and get better leverage on each rep, keep your elbows closer to your body instead of flaring them out at a 90-degree angle, which is how most noobs typically do push ups.
8. Hand Positioning
If your hands are pointed slightly inward (as is often the case when people do push-ups), it will usually encourage people to flare their arms out away from their sides, which we know is improper form. Having the right hand position will prevent your elbows from moving past your wrists, which will place unwanted stress on your elbow joint. It will also make the push-up more effective overall by increase chest and shoulder involvement, which allows you to add inches to your pecs.
9. Push the Ground Away From You
A really easy way to correct any possible mistake you could be making is to simply think about pushing the floor away from you as opposed to pushing yourself off the ground. The force translates into full body tension which creates bracing effect, enabling full body tension. By pushing the ground away from you, you’ll use more muscles, making the push-up more of a full body workout.
10. Brace your core
A very simple technique that can easily fix your mistakes and help you get more from your push-ups is to brace your core. This helps avoid spinal flexion (rounding of the back) and doing “banana back” push-ups.
Imagine someone who actually lifts is about to punch you in the gut, brace like you would for squats or deadlifts (just make sure you don’t hold your breath throughout). Bracing reduces the risk of injury by forcing a neutral spine.