Performing a pushup is a difficult thing.
Well, performing it correctly can also be extremely difficult and many times this beautiful total-body strengthening exercise gets butchered! However, I want you to perform this exercise the best way that you can and not necessarily have to resort to your knees!
Today I want to share with you three common mistakes I see when people are performing the pushup and how to correct them!
- Too much forward head protrusion: I tend to call this “turtle necking it” haha. This is when your head and neck decide to lead on the way down to the floor, before the rest of your body. I don’t know about you but this hurts my neck so much and I think I sorta strained mine when I was performing it in the picture below 🙁 So please, please don’t do that! Correction: When you are setting yourself up in the plank position, tuck your chin and neck back to make sure you have good spinal alignment before the eccentric (lengthening of the muscles) part of the exercise is executed. If you have a pvc pipe, see if a friend can place it against the back of your head, back and butt while executing the pushup. Your body should stay in contact with that pipe the whole way down and then back up. Your eyes should be focused about 45 degrees ahead and your body and head should be moving together as one unit. (In the picture above the head/neck is leading and this may cause added strain)
- Arms are flaring out or “chicken winging it”: I know this one sounds kinda weird, haha. Many times when we are set up to perform the exercise we have our hands all set and then when we are bringing our bodies down toward the floor our elbows/arms tend to flare out, or they bend about 90 degrees. This puts excessive stress on the shoulder joint and rotates them too far forward. Correction: When setting yourself up, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your shoulders directly over your wrists. When you are performing the eccentric portion (ie bringing whole body down to the floor) you will bend your elbows back at a 45 degree angle. (Elbows are “chicken winging it” ie bending about 90 degrees or so)
(Elbows are at a 45 degree angle! The proper way to execute the pushup. )
- Butt is too HIGH or perhaps too LOW and not properly braced: Okay, so for this one, many times our core muscles are not braced before we are properly executing the move. If that is the case we can get injured because we put more of a strain on our low back. Correction: when you are setting yourself up to start in the plank position you want to make sure to scoop your hips under (ie pull your abs in like you are preparing for someone to sucker punch ya and clench those butt checks like you are pinchin’ a penny baby!) Your whole body should stay in a straight line with good spinal alignment as we pull our bodies toward the ground and then push ourselves back up! (My butt is definitely too high and is definitely not in good spinal alignment as I perform the pushup)
- Keep head in good spinal alignment- please don’t lead with your head/neck! Eyes should be focused about 45 degrees ahead.
- Place hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and shoulders should be properly positioned directly over wrists. Your hands/fingers should be facing forward. Your hands should be in line with your chest.
- Bend elbows back at a 45 degree angle, not 90 degrees.
- Brace your abs/glutes before you execute the move. Tight, tight,tight!
- Your body moves as ONE unit.
- Breathing: You will inhale as you pull your body toward the floor, and exhale once you push your body away. I find that using my breath really helps to execute the move.
- If the pushup is a bit tricky at first in the horizontal position, then practice at an incline first so that you get stronger and are still using your core muscles in the move. By dropping to your knees, you are not activating your abdominals as much.
Happy Push-uping! Now drop and give me twenty… 😀