Strength Training

How to do the PERFECT pushup!

By May 7, 2019 June 13th, 2019 No Comments
perfect pushup

Maximize Your Pushup!

The pushup is one of THE most effective upper body exercises one can perform in the gym, yet sadly it is also one of the most improperly performed exercises. Hopefully these tips will help you maximize the effectiveness of your pushups!

  1. Slow down! Banging out pushups at a tempo like you are being tested in a Marine bootcamp will surely get your heart rate up there, but how effectively will it work your chest, delts, and tris? Simply by slowing down your eccentric (for more advanced trainees, concentric also), you will place the muscle under greater tension, and elicit a stronger response in metabolic damage, one of the key markers to grow and develop a muscle. A FANTASTIC technique to use for beginners is to get a 5 second eccentric OFF of the knees, lower to the floor, and push back up from the knees before repeating. This is a great way to add progressive overload, and build the proper strength needed to properly perform a pushup.

  2. SQUEEZE! Do you actively squeeze your pecs at the top of a pushup, or your triceps at the top of a diamond pushup? I didn’t think so. Exercises are designed to work our muscles through a full range of motion, and essentially accomplish 2 things: to stretch and contract the relative muscle fibers. By squeezing at the top, you are effectively activating the proper muscle group, and getting the most out of the exercise.

  3. No ½ Reps! As previously states, there are 2 key points to effectively working a targeted muscle group: the contraction, and the stretch. If you do not go all the way down, until, as we like to say at Metabolic Meltdown, “something is touching something”, then you are selling yourself short. Not only are you not effectively working your pecs, but you are robbing yourself of the joint mobility benefits that full ROM exercises can provide.

  4. Head in front! In order to place your shoulder capsule in a position that does not make them feel like they are being run through a meat processor, you better make sure your hands are lined up directly UNDER your shoulders, and your head is right out in front. This will ensure an arm angle that does not slam the top of your humerus into your glenohumeral joint. In other words, it will save you from flaring your elbows which, unless you are genetically lucky, will cause some negative wear and tear over time. If your head is in line with, or even worse, behind your hands, you are doing it wrong.

  5. Throw them ‘bows! Your elbow angle will dictate a lot about which muscle group is being used in the pushup. I see a lot of clients, typically females,  try to take pressure off of their pecs and place it onto a stronger muscle, their triceps, by “pinning” their elbows to the side. I also see a lot of clients, typically young males, “flare” their elbows directly to the side, running perpendicular to the torso, placing ALL of the stress on their pecs, at the expense of shoulder health. As is most often the case in life, you are best served “living in the middle” and the upper arm at a 45 degree angle from your torso!

Leave a Reply