The push-up is a movement that takes a lot of absolute power and body control. Because push-ups are done all the time, many people feel like it is a movement that does not require a lot of “brain power” to do, in other words, you cannot do a push up the wrong way.
This is completely untrue.
The push-up, like any other exercise, has MANY wrong ways, and usually one right way of doing it. You may be an individual that can polish off 20-30 push ups the wrong way, which means you may be able to only do 10-20 the right way. Regardless, there a few things to look at when differentiating between a flawed push-up and a flawless one. The following may give some insight if your push-up has some flaws that need to be fixed.
- Elbows flared out
This is not good for numerous reasons, but most importantly the vulnerability and strain on the shoulders. Maybe at first you feel like you are doing awesome, but in time you will start to notice the shoulders giving you fits, possibly in other movements that are NOT a push-up.
- Dipped or elevated hips
Nothing says “bad push-up” like some hips that never seem to leave the ground. This is bad because it takes away range of motion and also puts strain on the lower back. Droopy hips can also signify a weak core as well. On the contrary, elevated hips also take away from range of motion and take a lot of the emphasis off the chest and put more work on the shoulders.
- Lacking the lock-out
Half reps may seem cool because one can easily display them as nothing but raw power, which gives an impression to the person watching that “I do not need to go all the way up because look at how fast I can do them partially”. In reality, half rep push-ups are good for maybe a quick chest pump, but really do not display anything that says you know how to do a push up. Go all the way down and come all the way up until the elbows lock out, that is a text book push-up rep.
- Push-up in sections
Yes, there are modified push-ups for people who are learning proper form and technique. However, if you are person who has convinced yourself that a push-up is peeling your body off the ground as opposed to pushing it up all at once, you most likely have a flawed push-up. Your body should move up and down as one at the same time, not coming up in sections.