MASTERING Your Push Up
The push up is one of the fundamental movements of the human body, it involves a lot more technique and strength than we often think – And that might be what’s putting you off from doing more of them.
I’m here to break down the Do’s and Don’ts of the Push up, how you can make it fit the level you are at right now, make it safe and ultimately to become a MASTER of the push up.
First up, here’s what the perfect push up looks like, then we can check out the most common problems and try and look at what you need to do to turn it back into a great looking push up.
At the top and bottom part of your push up, you should have a straight line connecting your: Ankles, Knees, Hips and Shoulders, with your neck neutral. This isn’t just so that we look neat and symmetrical, when you’re in this position it shows that all of your muscles are engaging correctly. Think about standing up straight – All of your muscles are doing their part in balance to hold you upright, if you were to relax just your shoulders and abs, you would round over forwards and put stress on your back.
Your shoulders should also be directly over your wrists, for the most support. The further they move forwards or backwards, the less your main working muscles will be able to do.
The two main variations we use to help us get stronger and work towards our first full push ups are the ‘half’ push up from knees, or the High Plank. For both, it’s still massively important to hold ourselves in that same posture to build up strength evenly across your core, butt and arms.
The first and most common problem we see is during during the half push up, and it’s keeping your hips in the air while performing the movement. It looks like this:
The way you’ll notice if you’re doing this or not (it’s pretty hard to tell how your own push up looks) is if you don’t feel any work at all through your core. You never really shift your centre of gravity forwards, so it never tests your core strength. The best fix for this is to set up laying flat in the first place, THEN move into the push up position, if your body is flat to start with it will feel strange to then bend at your hips.
This is really similar for the full push up, hips can sometimes stay up in the air making the upside down ‘V’ shape, this again switches off your core, but also puts more pressure on your shoulders because you end up pushing forwards into them rather than down.
The opposite to this is if you let your low back drop too low, you can see that this puts a lot of pressure onto your lower back, and again is down to your core and also your glutes not switching on enough to hold you in position.
Fix this by ‘drawing your belly button up to the roof’ and squeezing your butt tight to lock your hips in position.
Elbow positioning is really important too for us to look after our shoulders. What can often happen is for elbows to shoot out to an almost straight line across your upper body, when you start out with push ups this might even feel better, but long term it’s not good for the health of your shoulders.
Think about trying to ‘drill’ your hands into the floor, this should pull your elbows closer to your side.
This CAN be set off by your hand positioning. If your hands point inwards, it’ll automatically force your elbows to shoot out too high.
Your hands should be facing straight ahead, rather than pointing inwards or outwards, this keeps your elbows neutral and gives you the most support from your hands.
Key Points to fix and perform the push up at it’s best:
- Set up right; Lay flat, put your hand just outside of your shoulders and raise up into the start position with your core and butt tight to lock your hips flat
- Work up the progressions; Hard work will always win, but make sure you don’t jump ahead to the next toughest push up too soon. If you start to lose your form after about 10 push ups and can’t fix it, don’t feel like you have to grind out bad repetitions. It’s better for you to drop it down and keep the hard work going in the right areas. Before long you’ll be able to do more and more of the tougher push up!
- Fix one thing at a time; You don’t have to fix all of this in one hit, pick one thing to try on your next push up, master it and then move onto the next.
There you have it! Become master of the push ups by making sure you’re ticking all of these off the checklist and you’ll get some of the best results going, able to impress everyone by busting out 10 solid push ups like it’s nothing!