What's the Proper Push-Up Form?
Common mistakes most people make when performing a push-up include going too fast and using only partial range of motion. In the video above, Darin Steen demonstrates the perfect push-up. First, slow it down and use a three-second contraction. Try to really feel the muscle groups you're targeting, and do a full range of motion -- starting all the way down at the floor and pushing all the way up.
Pay particular attention to the alignment of your elbows. The ideal angle from your sides is about 45 degrees. This allows you to effectively work your chest muscles and prevent injuries from overextension. I recommend watching Darin's demonstration of the proper form, but here's a summary of key points to remember:
- Keep your body stiff and straight as a plank
- Elbows at a 45-degree angle from your sides
- Breathe in on the way down
- Lower your body all the way down, allowing your sternum to gently touch the floor
- Breathe out on the way up
How to Get More Out of Your Push-Ups
You're probably familiar with the advice to avoid doing the same exercises all the time. You need to "confuse" the muscle to keep building it. So doing the standard push-up exercise with your legs straight or knees bent on the floor, while certainly beneficial, will start to lose effectiveness over time if you don't add in new challenges. To get more out of your push-ups, try mixing up your routine with these simple tweaks:
- Put your hands on an exercise ball. As the ball shifts, it will force your core muscles to work to keep you in balance, while providing a greater challenge to your upper body. A similar option is to use two medicine balls, place the palms of your hands on top of the balls and perform the push-up from there.
- Alter your hand positions. The placement of your hands will dictate which muscle groups are targeted. Instead of the traditional hand placement (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart), try widening their stance to work your chest and shoulders. If you bring your hands together below your chest, you'll work your triceps. You can also elevate one arm (place your hand on a yoga block, or lift it into the air, for instance), which will challenge your upper body even more.
- Lift a leg. As you extend your leg behind you, your upper body gets a challenge while your core and glutes get toned.
- Elevate your feet. In the traditional push-up position, put your feet on a step, chair, or gym ball, so your feet are higher than your hands. This puts more weight on your upper body, giving your arms, chest and upper back a workout.
- Do push-ups off your fingertips. This is a more advanced technique that will improve the strength and grip of your hands.
Read the rest of Dr.Mercola's article HERE