Push ups are one of the ultimate ‘staples’ of any good workout. These are a highly simple and basic exercise that train the pecs, the shoulders, the triceps, the core and even the legs. They help you to build a good strength to weight ratio and they belong in every single workout program regardless of your level or your training goals.
But if the push up is so simple and so basic, how come so few people know how to do it correctly? Because if you take a look at 9/10 people in your local gym on the exercise mats, you’ll see that they clearly have no idea how to correctly perform this technique.
Let’s settle it once and for all then, so that you can get the most possible from this move and so that you won’t look like a noob any more bobbing up and down with no clue!
When you start out, the first and most important consideration is your position and your set up: getting yourself into the right starting position will set you up for success!
Arms then should be about shoulder-width apart. Sure, there are many variations on this move that you can use where your arms might be narrower or wider apart but for the basic push up you want to be about shoulders’ width. As a good guideline, try to have your thumbs touching just the outer edge of your pecs.
Now widen your hands and bring the elbows in so that your fingers are putting mainly upward. Squeeze your shoulder blades slightly together and then push them down toward your legs.
Whether you’re doing a handstand or a push up, the next most important step is to straighten your entire body so that you’re one rigid plank. To do this, you need to contract your core muscles (specifically the transverse abdominis) and you need to contract your buttocks. Doing this will force you into a straight position and make your entire body rigid. This isn’t just important for your to get into the correct position and to use the correct technique – this is also crucial to ensure that you’re actually targeting all the muscles that the push up is meant to target. Push ups can give you nicely flat abs but only if you actually engage the core!
Range of Motion
Finally, you need to ensure that you have full range of motion. There is some dispute as to whether you need to be locking your arms out when you bring yourself to the apex of the movement. In reality though this doesn’t matter: all that matters is that you are going through the full range of motion which means lowering yourself all the way to the ground so that your nipples are touching the floor and then straightening yourself out to the point where your arms are no longer straining to keep you up.
That’s one… now it’s time for 99 more!