While push-ups are one of the most impactful and beneficial exercise you can do to improve your exercise ROI (great results for most efficient effort), bad form can quickly compromise your results and make you more prone to injury.
Proper form is key! For a quick video demonstration, check out Howcast’s Fitness Channel or read on in this post for important things to keep in mind when you’re doing your push-ups!
Updated May 3, 2017
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Incorrect push-up form will mess you up in 2 ways:
- You won’t see the results you are looking for = demotivating
- You could hurt yourself = you’re out of the game
So here are the things to think about when doing push-ups:
- Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and in-line with your shoulders (i.e. not ahead or behind your shoulder line).
- Your feet should be set up in a way that feels right for you. The wider apart they are, the more stable you will be. If you are a beginner, start on your knees versus your toes. You will still get the same benefits from the exercise and as you gain strength, moving to your toes will continue to challenge you.
- Your body should be one STRAIGHT line. From the top of your head to your heals (or knees). If a ball rolled down your back, it would roll smoothly to the ground. This means no butt in the air or arched back (the ball would roll back over your head) or dip in your back (the ball would get stuck in the middle).
- Flex your core – this will keep you in a straight line and also maximize your push-ups exercise.
- Your head should be looking slightly ahead of you, not straight down. This will keep your neck straight. Think of your chin hitting the ground first not your nose.
- With your core engaged, lower yourself towards the ground until your elbows are at least a 90 degree angle.
- At the bottom, hold for a second (again, to maximize your exercise) and push back up.
- Repeat this many times as you can until you feel your form is compromised. Then rest. Doing less push-ups correctly will give you much larger return than doing more with sub par technique.
Here is what Knee Push-Ups Should Look Like:
Here is what Knee Push-Ups Should NOT Look Like:
Here is what Full Push-Ups Should Look Like:
Here is what Full Push-Ups Should NOT Look Like:
There’s my take on proper push-up format, but here is another nice pictorial from a dude’s perspective: Mark’s Daily Apple.
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