The push-up is an exercise I hold dear to my heart. For me, they really come in handy blended in with other exercises when I travel or want to get a little more exercise into my day.
I’m not going to lie. Of all the form atrocities I see in the gym, I’d say the push-up is the most common victim. If not, it’s a really close second to the flippy, floppy exercise while hanging from a bar that some people like to call a pull-up!
The perfect push-up
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If you execute a push-up with grace and finesse, you’ll be in great shape. If you do it wrong, you can open yourself up to shoulder and back injuries. Don’t be a statistic and let that happen.
Follow my instructions on how to do a push-up and be the change that you want to see in the gym.
Get your start position right
Your starting position is as important as the actual exercise.
The key here is you do not want your back to round or arch. Rounding it will transfer strain to your lower spine and arching it will take work away from your focus muscles.
Start by placing your hands flat on the ground directly under your shoulders and place your feet together with your toes curled under.
Raise your hips and form a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. This is very important because you will maintain this line during your entire set.If you need to, have someone place a wooden dowel across your back before you begin so you understand proper mechanics. It should be touching at the back of your head, upper back and tailbone.
Contract your abs as hard as you can and slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows. DO NOT let them flare outward. Instead, let them graze along your sides.
Once your chin lightly touches the ground, push yourself back up in a smooth motion until your arms are fully extended and repeat.
When you push back up, corkscrew the heels of your hands into the ground and make sure to really contract your abs.
By corkscrewing your hands and squeezing your abs, you will generate force and make your push-ups a lot easier. Make sure your gaze is fixed at a slightly forward angle toward the floor. Do not look straight down as this can cause you to bend your neck too far.
Anatomically, this is called excessive flexion. I see this happen all the time with push-ups and it’s not pretty!
Don’t forget the importance of breathing
As you lower yourself down, take a deep breath the entire way. Then exhale forcefully as you push back up.
There’s no need to ever rush your push-ups either. I often see knuckleheads trying to mash out hundreds of sloppy reps with really poor form. Don’t!
Most of the time they are not even using a full range of motion. Take about two full seconds to lower yourself down and one full second to push back up.
Five or six quality push-ups always trump multiple reps with poor mechanics.
It always comes down to time under tension. If you go fast, your muscles won’t experience much tension. However, that completely reverses when you go nice and slow.
OK, now go practice and report back to me how you make out. If you need further assistance, give me a shout any time.
Connect with Expert Kevin Rail.