Pushups are one of the few total body exercise moves that you can do quickly, easily and without any equipment. In a pushup, you engage multiple muscle groups across the entire body. But warning: If you make any of these five common mistakes, this powerful tool can turn into a nightmare of injury or poor results.
This is usually the first lesson a personal trainer teaches a pushup newbie: Don’t sag your hips! Why? It makes the move easier! Not only that, if you sag, you’re hurting your lower back by removing the support of the core. You’re also missing out on the opportunity to work out those core muscles. It’s just as important not to sag your neck. Keep your neck firm, and your eyes fixed straight down. This will prevent injury to your neck and shoulders and also continue to challenge your muscles.
2. Holding Arms at the Wrong Angle
Many people tend to splay their elbows out in a push-up, creating a 90 degree angle. But when you do that, you’re cheating your workout. Instead, pull your elbows in, resting them at a 20 or 40 degree angle to create a mechanical angle that allows for greater range and power.
3. Letting Elbows Drift
Now that you’ve got your arm angle right, take a close look at your elbows. Their position is crucial. If you allow them to slide past your wrists in either direction, you’ll cause undue strain on them and your wrists. If you already have an elbow injury, this can cause even more pain and damage. Pay close attention that your elbows stay above your wrists during your pushup.
4. Pointing Hands Inward
To get those elbows and wrists in the right place, nail down the correct hand position. It’s common angle your hands inward when in formation, so the fingers are slightly facing each other instead of facing straight out. This incorrect hand positioning can throw off the angles of our elbows and arms.
5. Abusing Gravity
You probably concentrate on what’s commonly deemed the hardest part: Pushing your weight up. Then when you get to the top of the pushup maybe you allow gravity to pull yourself back down. Don’t do that! This is another missed opportunity. Instead, engage your lats, dig your fingers into the ground, and slow down. By employing the largest muscle in your back, you’ve just given your next ascent more power and effectively worked your back.
Next time you do a push up, keeping these tips in mind will ensure you get more power in your moves, go further and avoid injury. If you’re unsure if you’re making these mistakes, get a friend to watch you and help you correct these problem areas, or do a few pushups in front of a mirror to check out your form.