Perfect Your Push-up
by Jackie Burgmann, creator of "Hot at Home" - The Transformation Solution for People Who Hate The Gym
They're one of the most important body-weight exercises you can do.
Push-ups are also a terrific full body exercise that works your arms, your shoulders, your back, your chest, your core and even your legs (you need them for stability).
The funny thing about push-ups is that they LOOK deceptively easy.
However, they really aren't as easy as they look and it's easy to get your form
The theory is that it takes 500 reps to learn a new exercise. But learn it WRONG and it takes 5,000 reps to unlearn the bad form and relearn it with correct form (just like breaking a bad habit takes conscious decisions and repetition).
If done incorrectly the push-up can seem like a great workout but you might not be getting all the benefits you could be.
Incorrect form can also lead to muscle strain and injury, so it's pretty important to make sure you're getting your form correct (on any exercise) from the start.
As you can see, it's important to perfect your form on your push-up. No sense wasting your own time, right?
Unlike most exercises, you can't really look in a mirror to check your form while doing a push-up. If you're doing it right, you should be looking at the floor, not to the side or up into a mirror.
A fun trick to overcome the 'no mirror' problem is to get a digi-cam and record yourself doing push-ups so you can play it back and do a self-critique.
However, if you aren't able to record yourself, here are some things to keep in mind as you do your next set of push-ups. You'll have to rely mostly on how it 'feels' to make sure you're getting it right.
Keep your entire body as straight as a two by four, from the top of your head to your ankles. The exception to this is if you aren't strong enough to do push-ups from your toes yet and are doing push-ups from your knees. In this case it's acceptable to bend your knees to accommodate this position .
But otherwise, be sure to keep your spine straight, including your neck. Don’t let your head hang towards the ground, and also don't crank your neck to look up. Also be sure not to let your butt ride up into the air or sag towards the ground. Keep your core strong and stable (don't let your abs sag towards the floor either). Your spine should be neutral, with no excessive bends anywhere.
Position your hands on the ground (or bench if you're doing inclines) beside your chest, not beside your
face. If you're doing decline push-ups this is especially easy to forget. Always be mindful to get your
hands positioned lower beside your body, if doing declines get your hands at least beside your shoulders,
but preferably beside your chest.
Now that your hands are placed properly, lower yourself towards the ground.
Where are your elbows?
Are they bowing out beside you or are you keeping them closer to your body?
Keep your elbows closer to your body and you'll find that this makes your push-ups quite a bit more difficult and hits your chest muscles a bit harder (which is the intention) while protecting your shoulders from injury or strain.
As you lower yourself, what is your head doing?
Remember that your spine should be straight. The tendency can be to dip the head forward and lead with the forehead (which gets you to the ground sooner, which is also cheating). Be sure to aim your nose at the ground.
And be sure to lower yourself all the way to the ground. Don't stop halfway to the ground before returning to the top position. Try to touch your nose to the ground lightly before pushing up.
Now is also a good time to double check that your butt isn't peaking into the air and your abs aren't sagging towards the ground.
Once you've lowered yourself to the bottom position, don't stop and hang out down there, continue in a fluid motion to straighten your arms, keeping your elbows close to your body, to the top position.
When you've returned to the top of the move don't lock your elbows and come to a sudden halt. Be sure to come all the way up so your arms are straight, but always strive to keep your elbows 'soft'.
Upon arriving at the top of the move, without stopping to hover in this position, repeat your descent to the floor, again leading with your nose, minding your spine stays straight, your butt doesn't travel out of alignment and your elbows stay near your body.
Perform all reps smoothly until your set is finished.
Once you've mastered the basic push-up, there are many fun, more advanced variations you can try, from your changing your hand-placement or bringing one foot off the floor to target different muscles or make your push-up more challenging.
A few sets of push-ups with correct form during your exercise session will work your entire body and help you build functional strength and help you develop a strong and toned looking upper body. Do them often!
As you just read in this article, it's important to always get your form correct in order to prevent injury and
get the maximum benefit from your exercises.
If you're just starting out and aren't feeling like the gym is the right place for you, that's okay. With the "Hot at Home" Solution, you can still make sure you're performing your exercises correctly even if you work out alone at home.
Along with over 40 weeks of effective fat-burning 'avoid the gym' workouts, when you grab your copy of "Hot at Home" now, an extensive Exercise Gallery Manual is also included.
This 'no fail' manual describes how to do each and every exercise in full detail AND includes full-color pictures of me performing every stage of each exercise. You can feel safe knowing you're doing everything correctly, which helps YOU get the full fat-burning, body-toning benefit of every exercise and every one of your workouts.
Click here to find out more about "Hot at Home"