How to Perform The Perfect Push Up
Laura Lebedun Kerch
How do you learn unless you are taught correctly? I find it fascinating and equally disappointing when I have a new client’s initial evaluation, and he or she cannot even perform a correct squat, bent over row, or push up. Over the last decade of my experience, it seems to be the majority of people never learned the proper form. It is my job to instruct them, and have them put it into practice.
We all have muscle imbalances. I appreciate being able to help correct it through good technique of movements, based largely without heavy weight. A lot of natural resistance (something as simple as lifting an arm differently) can create a solid correction. In regards to the push up, “beef” (nothing against a good hamburger) is that it tends to reinforce the differences in shoulder mobility and pec strength with each incorrect repetition.
How do you begin to modify? Start with one arm chest exercises, like a flat bench dumbbell chest press. In general, I favor dumbells to a barbell for the exact reason I don’t spend much time using push ups in daily workout routines: using each side independently doesn’t allow for the same compensations.
The reason I think it is important to learn the proper push up is two-fold:
1. As with the squat and row, having a basic understanding of a common movement is essential to build upon, as the repertoire of your moves are increased.
More for me as the trainer, it is a marker for progress in strength and balance of the major muscles that are used during ——. From the first push up, I can gage what needs to be fixed, and throughout the following sessions, when I can see improvement, simply by watching a few reps, I know that the client is doing the right correctives.
Without standing in front of you, here are my *TRAINER TIPS* to get your body to its peak push up position:
-For set up: Have the heels of your palms in line with your shoulders, and a full hand’s width outside of them.
-Make a line from your head to your toes. Do not drop hips or pike them, either. Keep your neck neutral.
-As you descend, allow the elbows to stay below your collar bone, making sure not to engage the upper trapezius (think where most people hold tension). Engage the back, almost bringing the shoulder blades together, which will open up the chest, allowing for greatest range of motion.
-Finally, breathe in on the down and out of the up.