Of all the bodyweight exercises you can do, push-ups are definitely one of the best. They strengthen the upper body, yes, but they also require a lot core engagement and leg engagement, making them a true full-body exercise.
In order to reap all the benefits that the push-up has to offer, though, you need to make sure you’re doing them properly. Here are seven tips that will help you perfect your push-ups and make sure you’re getting the most out of them:
1. Start in a Proper Plank
What’s a proper plank? Your core needs to be engaged and your shoulders protracted (slightly rounded). Push into the floor with your hands to protract your shoulders. Make sure your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips sag.
2. Grip the Floor
Now that you’re in proper position, curl your fingers slightly and dig into — or “grip” — the floor. This will help you to protract your shoulders, and it will take pressure off of your wrists.
3. Keep Abs Engaged and Head Neutral
Remember, you want your body to form a straight line from your head to your heels. Look down at the floor directly below you; don’t extend your neck to try and look up while you’re lowering and raising your body.
4. Squeeze Your Glutes
Make sure you’re squeezing your glutes — remember, that’s part of keeping your core engaged. Make sure that your legs are working, too. No part of your body should be relaxed or flopping about when you’re doing a push-up!
5. Move Your Body as One Unit
A lot of people do a version of the worm when they’re doing push-ups; they let their head and shoulders dip down first, then their hips follow. Don’t do this. Move your whole body as one unit.
If you need to drop down to your knees in order to do this, that’s totally fine. Check out this post for more push-up progressions if a regular floor push-up is too much for you right now.
6. Send Your Elbows Back
This is probably the biggest mistake people make when doing push-ups. Your elbows should go back behind you at 45-degree angles; don’t let them splay out the sides at 90-degree angles. This puts a lot of stress on your shoulders and increases your injury risk.
7. Keep Your Hips Level
Don’t keep your hips too high up in the air, but don’t let them sag down to the ground, either. There should be some space between your hips and the floor, even when you’ve lowered yourself all the way down. Someone should be able to slide something like a foam roller underneath your hips, but, at the same time, there shouldn’t be enough space for a small child to crawl through.
Start Practicing Those Push-Ups!
There you have it! Seven tips that will help you perfect your push-ups. Remember, the goal is quality, not quantity. I’d rather have you do five push-ups with good form that 50 with sloppy form!
Need more push-up guidance? Here’s a video to provide you with a visual for each of these tips!
How do you feel about push-ups? Are they a workout staple for you, or something you just do every once in a while?