In the video above, I tell you how to do push ups with proper form and how to build up to doing them on the floor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it bad to flare the elbows out?
If the elbows are out (i.e., abducted 90-degrees from your body) it puts unnecessary strain on the elbow tendons (a valgus strain) and reduces the amount of subacromial space in the shoulder joint which can lead to impingement.
But that’s not all, it’s simply not as efficient of a position to generate strength from and doesn’t carry over to the more difficult pushing progressions. For example, if you’re ever going to do crow pose or handstand push ups or dips, you’re going to need to keep the elbows from flaring out, so you might as well be doing pushups in a way that transfers better to those exercises.
Why do I have to keep the hips tucked?
You will notice that I emphasize posterior pelvic tilt, which is the same as the hollow body position, if you’re familiar with that term. If you arch your lower back in plank or the push up, it will put a lot of pressure on your lower back and hurt it. I talk about the importance of this positioning in my comprehensive handstand tutorial.
Why do I have to protract my shoulder blades at the top? What’s wrong with winging?
Doing a push up and NOT protracting the shoulder may result in winging and that is a sign of scapular instability and possible weakness of the serratus anterior (“the boxers muscle”).
You’re also cheating out on the full range of motion available to the push up exercise. You should lower all the way down and push back up until your elbows are straight and then spread the shoulder blades apart. That’s full ROM.
I took a video of myself and I see I am winging, how do I fix this?
My video on scapular shrugs may help you focus on strengthening the serratus anterior and other structures.
I still don’t get how to protract the shoulder blades. What’s a good cue to make sure I’m doing it?
Protraction cue: Go into plank or plank on your knees and try to touch the front of your shoulders together. That should do the trick.
Why is it a good idea to turn the hands out slightly?
Turning the hands out slightly not only helps ensure the proper motor pattern to help your elbows from flaring out, but it also reduces the amount of pressure in your wrists. The further forward you have to lean, the more stress will be put on your wrists. This is especially important when you’re going through pseudo planche push ups.
My wrists hurt, what can I do?
I recommend you try doing them on your fists. If that doesn’t hurt, then that’s an excellent modification that will also make your wrists stronger. Other than that, here’s another article that will help you: How to avoid wrist pain in yoga and bodyweight exercises
If you’re looking for a complete bodyweight-training routine, I recommend you check out my rings-oriented bodyweight training routine and see if it fits you.