Pushups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do. Not only do they shred your chest muscles, but they hit your shoulders, back, and triceps as well. There are so many variations on the pushup that you can almost get a complete upper body workout by doing just the one exercise.
But are you doing your pushups correctly? You might find that you’re making a few simple mistakes that ruin your form. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about doing your pushups correctly:
Mistake #1: Hand Placement
Are your hands spread too far apart? Are they too close together? Are they too high or low? If so, you may be making it harder to do a proper pushup and ruining your form.
When you spread your hands, you make the pushup a bit easier. It will focus on your chest muscles more, but that will stress your shoulders. It’s not just cheating, but it could actually end up causing strain or injury in the long run.
Instead of spreading your hands wide, place them beneath your shoulders and tuck your elbows to your side as you drop down into the pushup. It will give your triceps a targeted workout as well as your chest, and you’ll find that while the pushup is much harder this way, it makes you stronger in the long run.
Mistake #2: Focusing Only on the Up
The name “push-up” may focus mostly on the “up” side of things, but you should never neglect the eccentric–also known as the “lowering”–part of the exercise slide. You don’t want things to be too easy, and you’ll find that doing the eccentric part of the pushup properly will help to build muscle and strength just as much as doing the concentric or “up” part.
When you go to lower yourself into the pushup, dig your fingers into the floor. This will get your lats working, and, as the largest muscle group in your upper body, they will help to add force to the workout. You’ll find that doing this will work out your back muscles, and lowering yourself slowly to the floor will increase the difficulty of the pushup. Count 2 seconds to lower yourself into the pushup, 2 seconds to push back up, and a second of rest at the top. You’ll get an amazing workout!
Mistake #3: Wobbling Neck
Many people lower their neck to the floor when they do pushups, as it helps them to feel like they’ve done a complete push-up when they’re tired and their form is slipping. It can strain your neck, and it will definitely stop you from maintaining the proper push-up form.
To fix this mistake, force yourself to think of your spine as a straight line. Don’t let your neck or head wobble, but keep it firmly in line with your back and legs. It takes practice, but eventually you’ll get that straight spine and neck.
Mistake #4: Not Stretching
Pushups develop the front of your shoulders, along with your chest, triceps, and back. However, if you don’t stretch after doing the exercise, you may find that your muscles tighten and pull you forward, giving you a bit of a hunch. Not only does this look odd, but it can interfere with your strength training in the future.
Make sure that you stretch out your muscles after doing pushups, particularly if you’re doing a slow push-up that works your muscles out on both the up and the down. Spend a few minutes after your workout just to loosen up those muscles, and you’ll avoid that forward hunch.