Push-ups are one of the best and most effective exercises for strengthening and sculpting your chest, abs, triceps, shoulders, and torso. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, runner or cyclist, push-ups are great for all athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They are one of the most versatile and useful body weight exercises. Provided you do them right!
Everyone knows what a push-up is and that they are good for you. Despite that, most people do them wrong. Push-ups are hard and your body tends to take the path of least resistance. However, this leads to bad form, which prevents you from fully utilizing the power of push-ups.
Here are some of the most common mistakes people make and how you can fix them:
1. Sagging or Arching Your Back
Sagging or arching your back makes push-ups easier. But, at the same time, you risk hurting your lower back and miss out on strengthening your core muscles.
The fix: Engage your glutes and press your chest to the ground first to avoid sagging or arching.
2. Forgetting to Breathe
It is easy to forget breathing while concentrating on your form and reps. But, without taking breaths, you cannot do enough push-ups.
The fix: Breathe in while going up and breathe out on the way down.
3. Not Doing the Full Push-up
Many people only do ‘half push-ups’. They don’t go low enough or high enough, which leads to poor results.
The fix: Ensure that you do a full range of motions during your push-up. While going down, your chest should be close to the ground and while going up, your arms should be fully-extended.
4. Wrongly Placing Your Arms
While doing push-ups, a lot of people place their arms too far ahead or flare their elbows. This causes unnecessary strain on your shoulders and reduces the involvement of core and lower-back muscles.
The fix: Keep your arms straight to support your body’s weight. And your elbows close to your torso at a 20 to 40- degree angle.
5. Keeping Your Head Too Close to the Chest
By having a poor head alignment, you risk straining your neck muscles. A neutral head position keeps your head aligned with your spine and the rest of your body.
The fix: Slightly tuck in your chin and avoid drooping your neck. You can keep your eyes fixated on one point to make it easier to concentrate.
Now you know how to avoid the most common push-up mistakes. Here are some steps that will help you do the perfect push-ups:
Step 1: Start with a full plank position – on your hands and toes. Keep your hands at a 20 to 40-degree angle to your body.
Step 2: Tighten your core muscles, glutes, and hamstrings. Make sure that your back is flat.
Step 3: Lower your body while keeping your head straight down. At no point, should your body dip or stick out.
Step 4: Push your back up while keeping your core engaged. If you’re just starting out, repeat for 10-20 reps with the correct form.
Master the correct form and build enough endurance. You can then try some of the many push-up variations to strengthen the muscle groups you especially want to focus on.