The pushup gets shortchanged by men and women. Men would rather see how much they can bench press while women are afraid they won’t be able to do one. Pushups should be a staple of anyone’s exercise plan and I’ll tell you why: you can do them anywhere, they don’t require any equipment, and they’re effective at working not just the chest, but also the shoulders, triceps, and core. When done properly, the pushup can give females wonderfully toned arms and give men the masculine chest and arms they crave. The problem is, most people do them wrong, and when done wrong, the pushup is not only ineffective, but it can also cause serious injury. With that said, let’s look at how to do the perfect push up in just 4 easy steps….
1. Start by getting down on the ground with your feet together and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be level with your chest and not up by your shoulders.
2. To begin the starting position, make sure your arms are fully extended as you hold the top of the push up position. Your core should be held tight and your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
3. Next, slowly lower your body to the ground until your chest nearly touches the floor while keeping your core tight and remember to inhale as you lower yourself. While lowering, tuck your elbows, pulling them close to your body so that your upper arms form a 45-degree angle when your torso is in the bottom position of the pushup. Your body should remain in a straight line from the head to the ankles.
4. Exhale as you push yourself back up to the starting position by extending your arms. Your body should still remain in a straight line from the head to the ankles.
Now you’ve done the perfect pushup. Did it not look quite like I described? Here’s what could be wrong:
Your Hips Were Sinking and You Were Not in a Straight Line: If you were unable to keep your body in a straight line from the head to the ankles, it’s likely that you need to do some work on your core muscles. No matter how strong your upper body is, if your core is weak, you will be unable to do a perfect pushup.
You Could Not Go Down All The Way: This can be caused by two possible scenarios: your hands were too high, causing stress to be put on the shoulders which limits your range of motion, or you do not trust your own strength and you fear you will fall. Even if you do fall, don’t worry, it’s a very short fall and you will not get hurt.
Now if you felt like a certain part of the rep was harder, there’s an explanation for that too.
If you felt the top half of the rep was difficult, meaning you could push off the floor but had difficulty getting your arms to full extension, this means your triceps are lagging behind. The triceps (back of the arm) are what’s responsible for extending the arm. Work on the triceps more and you’ll be able to bang out more pushups.
If you felt the bottom half of the rep was more difficult, meaning you can go down halfway just fine, but going down all the way means you’re not able to get back up, then that probably means you need to work on your chest and shoulders more. While the triceps are responsible for the extending of the arms towards the end of the rep, chest and shoulder strength is what will get you through the bottom half of the rep. Keep working on those muscle groups and the pushup will become easier for you.
Still too hard?
There’s nothing wrong with doing modified pushups. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right? These can be done with the exact same steps as I described earlier, but with your knees on the ground. So instead of being in a straight line from your head to your ankles, it will be from the head to the knees. Again, make sure to keep the core tight. You can also do a regular pushup with your hands on a bench or a chair. When your body is angled with your head up higher, it takes some of the weight off and allows you to build up strength as you train to be able to do regular pushups.
Need to Spice Up Your Pushup Routine?
OK, so you’re so good at pushups now that it’s becoming boring. This is a nice problem to have. But it doesn’t mean you have to become bored with your pushup routine. There’s ALWAYS a way to make an exercise harder. Try these modifications to make your pushups more difficult:
These are done with the exact same form as the regular pushup, however, when you push up, you will push up as fast as you can and clap your hands together as your upper body reaches its maximum height. These are more of an explosive pushup exercise and I guarantee you will not get as many as you would with normal pushups.
Instability pushups are simply pushups that are done with either your feet, hands, or both, on an unstable surface. So this might mean your feet, hands, or both are on a Bosu ball, stability ball, or even in a TRX foot stirrup.
These are a little easier to do when you have a workout partner. Just simply take a weight plate (start light) and place it on your upper back for extra weight. You’ll really feel the extra 5, 10, 25, or even 45 pounds of extra weight on your back!
So there you have it. Now you know exactly how to perform the perfect pushup, and if it’s not perfect, now you know why. If it’s so perfect that it’s become boring for you, now you know how to make it nice and challenging. So quit sitting on the computer and go out there and do some pushups!
If you need more help on the proper form for pushups, or any exercise for that matter, contact me today so I can help you get started with an exercise program that always keeps your form perfect.