How To Do Push Ups Properly
Updated: Jan 11
Due to all this Covid rubbish, peoples training and fitness regimes have been delt a massive blow. Gyms closing and reopening just to close again a couple of weeks later is heart breaking and incredibly frustrating.
This means that more people are working out at home or outdoors. Which is great. It is very important for your physical and mental health to keep exercising in these times.
There is one problem though. This means more bodyweight training. Which is pretty difficult for a lot of people.
If you check out some body weight routines online, they are crazy! It’s amazing what some people can do with their bodies. But most of us have to aim a bit lower and stick to push ups and squats etc.
And everyone doing a home work out loves to post about it on social media. What this did was highlight how bad a lot of peoples form is. Even athletes! I saw a video of an American football player doing one of those push ups challenges and they were awful!
As we have hone back into lockdown again here, (cheers for that) the gyms have closed and there will be more home work outs.
So if you are going to be one of those people, at least do them right. So what is the right way to do a push up?
I’m going to cover as many important aspects of the push up as I can so that you have a check list to follow when you are doing them. As my clients will confirm, few things annoy me more than bad push ups. Especially one on their knees (more on than later).
Lets start with the hand position. This will vary from person to person, but roughly having your hands
under shoulders and slightly wider is a good position for most people.
A good check is to start at the bottom. Lie flat and place your hands under your shoulder. Then you can adjust slightly if you need. You want your hands to be in line with your chest as that is where the drive is coming from.
Now you don’t have to push yourself up from there. You can come back up anyway you like but don’t move your hands as you need to keep them there so you know where to place them.
Now body position. This should be the same a plank. You want to keep your body long. Back straight. Feet together. Glutes engaged (something that a lot of people miss) and head in a neutral position. Meaning looking straight ahead.
A lot of people tilt the chin to their chest or tilt back so they are looking in front of them. This compromises your head and neck and therefore the top of your spine so do not move your head.
The same applies if you are doing them on your knees. As I said before, push ups on the knees done wrong is one of my biggest pet peeves. Simply because there is no need for it to be done and wrong and most people do it wrong.
And the biggest issue is the hip position. Most people get on their hands and knees and they end up in a box like position. They should be long. So hips lower and there should a straight line from your knees through your legs, right the way through your spine int your head.
This means your actually going to use your core. What it will also do is help when going down and therefore pushing up.
If you’ve ever done push ups on your knees badly, then you’ll find that when you lower, you feel like you are going to tumble forward. This is due to your body position and it means you are bring your head to the ground and not your chest.
If you keep your body straight, that will help with the angle and should make it easier to bring your chest to your hands rather than your head.
Now another overlooked aspect, getting your shoulders tight. Your shoulders should be in the same position as if you are doing a bench press. Or nearly any exercise for that matter.
Keeping your shoulders down and back is key to any exercise. The way that I set up for a push up is that once I’ve got my hands in the right position and my body lined up. I think about screwing my hands into the ground.
Now when I do this I don’t actually move my hands. Think of it like your hands are on a towel and you want to pull it taught. It’s the exact same idea has when you are told to ‘bend the bar’ like when you are doing a deadlift or bench press.
This motion sets your shoulders into a perfect position to drive through and gets torque in the joints ready to drive. It’s a good strong position and incredibly important to maintain when doing the likes of a deadlift or bench press or any exercise were shoulder position is key.
Now you are set and ready to go.
Obviously you want to focus on lowering slowly and with control. Keeping all the tension that you have at the start in your shoulders and your core.
The most important bit about lowering, is to keep your elbows tucked. They don’t have to be tucked right up against your body but they definitely shouldn’t be sticking out.
Not only does this load the elbow joint more but it is not a strong position to push through.
When you are at the bottom, your forearms should be nearly perfectly straight up. The slightest bit of
a tilt isn’t the end of the world but your forearms should as straight as possible.
If you have gotten this far, the actual pushing up part should be easy. It’s making sure that you have all those boxes ticked to get to the bottom of a push up is the tricky part.
Some people say that it can hurt their wrists being in that position. Now it may seem a bit hardcore but doing them on your knuckles will give you much more wrist support.
Alternatively, you do them on dumbells (make sure they don’t roll of course). Now doing them like this isn’t easy though it does solve the wrist pain.
So now you know how to do a push up correctly and most importantly, safely. If you do your push ups like this, you will get the most out of your push ups.
You might actually find them harder to do if you’ve already been able to do a few. Good. That means that you are doing them right. You should feel this work pretty much all over.
Now you can do your push up properly you will have no problem banging them out in front of people.