4 Ways You're Messing Up Your Push-Ups

STACK Expert John Papp lists the top four errors he sees when Push-Ups go wrong and provides coaching tips to fix them.

Can you do a Push-Up? My guess is that you can. I mean Push-Ups are so simple that you learn them in elementary school gym class. Yet, I commonly see them being done wrong and constantly have to correct and coach proper technique. Here are the top four errors I see when Push-Ups go wrong.

1. Elbows Out

  • Performing reps with your elbows out is a common mistake made by both athletes and general fitness enthusiasts.
  • Tuck your elbows in toward your sides to protect your shoulders from injury and aggravation.
  • Think of the Push-Up as you would a Bench Press. Tuck your elbows on the bench; tuck your elbows on a Push-Up.

2. Lower Back Dip

  • As with almost every other exercise, the lower back should not arch, or in this case cave toward the floor.
  • This is a sign of inadequate core strength. Train your core!
  • A great cue to help prevent this is to suck your belly button up as high as you can into your body and push back into your toes.

3. Not Regressing

  • Let's face it, not everyone is ready for strict Push-Ups with perfect form.
  • All too often, I see individuals perform rep after rep in terrible positions.
  • Swallow your pride and regress. Use Hand-Elevated Push-Ups or Kneeling Push-Ups to build strength.

4. Not Leading with the Nose

  • If you lead with your nose during a Push-Up, you can't mess it up.
  • Pick a spot in front of your head and aim to touch it with your nose.
  • This forces you into a perfect position every time, especially when you use a kneeling regression.
Photo via Rena Laverty

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