Perfecting the Push-Up: Part 1

By Jaime Rice

Bodyweight exercises are some of the best training and workouts one can do; simply because no equipment is required and they can be done anywhere. Push-ups are one of my all time favorite bodyweight exercises. The push-up is so versatile with many different variations and ways to isolate certain areas of the body.

Push-ups are more than an upper body workout. They hit core, back and legs depending on which version is performed. Today I will discuss proper push-up form for the standard and close grip push-ups as well as simple modifications for all push-ups.

The Standard Push-up:

Start in plank position; feet together, hands slightly more than shoulder width apart, and back straight aligned with the neck. It’s important to keep your back straight and your neck in line with your back. We tend to droop our necks or bow our backs when fatigued. This can cause injury as well as result in ineffective push-ups. Once in proper plank position, lower yourself to the ground (with arms) until elbows are 90 degrees and parallel with your back. Depth is key! Having good range of motion is essential with pushups. If you can only do 1 or a few with proper form, that is totally fine! Drop to a knee and knock out a few more with excellent form. Allowing your form to fail with fatigue is a common mistake. It’s far better to modify and get quality reps over quantity with bad form.

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Start in Plank to get proper back alignment

Close Grip Push-ups:

Start in plank position, like the standard. This time hands will be directly under shoulders and elbows will be tucked into your body. When you lower yourself to the floor the elbows stay in close to your body, not flaring out like standard push-ups. This focuses more on triceps and are slightly harder than the standard push-up.

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Keep elbows tucked in on the downward motion.

Modified Push-ups:

These modification work for every variation of push-ups, and I often use the modified version when I’m going to failure. Modifying is a simple technique that allows you keep proper form. To modify simply drop to your knees from the plank position while keeping your back and neck in line and straight. If you don’t need to place both knees on the floor you can go to one knee while keeping the other extended out.

Push-ups, like pull-ups, are built upon. Meaning you may only be able to knock out 5 solid pushups your first go but keep at it and soon that 5 will be 50! Stay tuned for more variations and the push-up challenge

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