How to Perfect Your Push Up
When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. The basic principle of a push up is that you are pushing yourself up from the ground by using your chest, arms, and shoulder muscles while keeping the hands and toes in contact with the floor.
Here is what you need to look out for in the perfect push-up:
- Keep your head aligned with the upper body.
The most common mistake is to push your head backwards on the way up, trying to move it in the opposite direction of gravity, thinking that will help make the exercise easier.
- Keep your elbows close to your body.
Allowing the elbows to flare out will activate the triceps more and defeat the primary purpose of the push up, which is to activate the chest muscles. By keeping the elbows close to the body, you are also putting less strain on your shoulder joint. Generally, the recommended position of the elbows is to keep them around 45 degrees from the body.
- Keep your feet together or shoulder-width apart.
Keeping your feet apart or joined together will not have a significant impact on the main muscle activity (chest, triceps) but it will make a difference in intensity. The version of a push up in which your feet are joined together will challenge your core more. Generally speaking, the wider apart your feet, the more stable you’ll be for your push-ups. So depending on how experienced you are, act accordingly.
- Keep the spine in proper alignment.
Meaning your spine should be in the same position as if you were standing up. Your bum shouldn’t be sticking up in the air or dropping too low. You’re essentially holding a plank throughout the entire movement.
Bottom line, always focus on quality over quantity, form has to be the priority. And if you cannot complete a regular push up then start by practising these variations:
- Wall Push-Ups
- Elevated Push-Ups
- Knee Push-Ups
And for anyone who is more advanced, use variations and additional load for progress.
To increase the intensity and make your push ups challenging again, you can try push up variations such as decline push-up, diamond push up, archer push up, one arm push up, or by adding weighted vests/doing push-ups on an unstable surface (suspended grips like TRX).
But the same principle applies; do not sacrifice technique and form.