Push-ups are something everyone is familiar with. We’ve all had to do a few of them at some point in our lives whether in P.E. class as kids or as part of our fitness routine as adults.
Why are push-ups so popular?
It is because it is the most effective upper body exercise you can execute using only your body weight for resistance. There’s no need for any sort of equipment, just a willingness to get a good workout. Ironically, as simple and as popular as push-ups are, most people do not know how to perform them correctly.
Many have a tendency to use poor form. Some swing their hips, while others roll their shoulders. Poor form restricts the gains you get from doing this exercise.
Here are 7 tips that will help you execute perfect push-ups:
1) Have a strong grip on the floor
Having a solid base is essential for performing push-ups properly. When you’re getting in position for this exercise, place your palms firmly on the floor. Push down on the floor and twist your palms outwards. Picture yourself trying to rip the floor into two. After twisting, your biceps and elbows should be parallel to your body.
Doing this provides tension in your upper back, shoulder, and arms which makes it easier for you to keep your upper body in the proper position.
2) Make sure your neck and spine are aligned
It is very important that you do not look up straight or tuck your chin when carrying out this exercise. Doing so habitually could lead to neck and spine injuries. It also makes it easier for you to cheat, since the back and forth motion of your head can fool you into thinking you are getting repetitions in.
Instead, keep your neck in a neutral position at all times. Your body should form a straight line from your feet to your head when you have proper form. The better your form is, the easier it will be for you to control your movement.
Easier said than done right?
Not really. It’s rather simple. Pick a spot that is about 5-10 inches to the front of your hands and keep your face pointed at it. Your eyes should be focused on that point as you perform each movement. That will keep your neck and spine properly aligned.
Any easy way to make sure you are in the correct position when performing push-ups is to have a friend place a broom on your back. If the broom isn’t touching your neck, spine, and the back of your feet, you’re doing something wrong.
3) Don’t shrug your shoulders
It is not uncommon for people to shrug their shoulders when performing push-ups. It almost feels natural. The problem is, shrugging your shoulders during this exercise compromises the alignment of your lower back and neck, increasing the odds of getting injured.
Instead, draw your shoulders inwards when squeezing out push-ups. An easy way to do this is to draw your shoulders together during each rep. That, in turn, will bring them in.
4) Bring your hands towards your toes
Once you’ve figured out the proper position your body should be in when doing push-ups, the next step is to start looking for ways to make your workouts more effective.
Clench your core muscles and try to bring your hands towards your feet. That prevents you from losing your form during repetitions. That’s particularly important as you start doing more reps since it is easy to lose your form when fatigue sets in.
5) Clench your backside
That’s right; you squeezing your butt makes it easier for you to maintain proper form when performing push-ups. When your glutes are relaxed, your lower back tends to drop towards the floor. When you squeeze your backside, the stress on your spine is relieved as your hips move into the proper position.
By taking stress off your lower back, your risk of injury is lowered, while your abdominal muscles become part of the exercise. By using this trick, you get an ab workout out as well every time you do push-ups.
6) Remember to breathe
Breathing properly is an essential part of any exercise and push-ups are no different. Remember, your body needs oxygen to create the energy you burn when working out. You also get a push of energy every time you exhale since your core muscles contract during the process.
During your repetitions, breathe in as you lower yourself to the ground, and exhale as you push yourself up. Make sure you take deep breathes as you breathe in. It’s something you will need to focus on at first, but in time, it will become a habit.
7) Don’t let gravity do the work for you
Remember, the negative part of any exercise is just as important. Make sure you are not just letting your body fall down to the floor when performing push-ups. Instead, lower yourself slowly to the ground. That ensures your muscles are getting worked during both motions.
Doing all these simple things will help you target your upper body muscles better when you do push-ups. You only have so much time in a day you can dedicate to personal fitness, so make the most of it.