The Perfect Push-Up To Build Muscle (AVOID THESE MISTAKES!)

Due to the high amount of muscle mass and joints which are involved in this exercise, there is a lot that can go wrong when it comes to the pushup form or in a pushups workout. Which is not only detrimental for growth, but is also problematic from an injury and pain standpoint since we tend to do push-ups with a lot of volume, and the wear and tear from improper push up form can accumulate very quickly. So, in this push up form tutorial, I’ll share what the most common and problematic push up mistakes are, and how to fix them right away so that you know how to do a push up correctly. Once you’ve gone through the necessary push up form check, you’ll be able to see faster growth while avoiding potential injury.

The most common mistake people make with their pushup form is flaring their elbows out commonly as a result of using a hand position that’s too wide, thinking that this will better target and grow the chest. But instead it actually does the opposite while putting our shoulders at a greater risk for injury. Whenever we do any pressing motion like a push-up, we want our elbow angle to line up with our chest fibres. So, instead, use a grip that’s roughly just outside shoulder-width or narrower. And when you execute your push-ups, don’t forget to tuck your elbows in towards your body rather than flaring them out. Preferably right around 45 degrees.

Next, a common problem we see people typically have their hands turned in slightly. What this does is it not only encourages the flaring of the elbows but will also put us at a greater risk for shoulder impingement. Not to mention the added shear stress on the elbows as well. So, when you perform your push-ups, keep your hands in a neutral position. Then, you’ll want to promote this position as you go into your push-up by thinking about distributing the weight in your hands more externally rather than internally, by again thinking about screwing your hands outwards.
Most people are unaware that by making very simple adjustments to your push up form, you can actually emphasize specific muscles more than others. Which is beneficial when you want to specifically focus on working a certain muscle group. And to do this, we mainly want to pay attention to what our elbows and shoulders are doing during the movement.

For instance, as mentioned in this push up form tutorial, if we wanted to make the push-up to be more chest focused, then we want to limit the amount flexion our elbow experiences by moving our hands back a touch during the set-up, and then keeping our elbow stacked right on top of our wrist as we execute the push-up. Alternatively, if we wanted to make the push-up more triceps focused, then we want to maximize the amount of flexion our elbow experiences. This can be done by tucking the elbows in and dropping them down and back as far away from your hands as you’re capable of doing comfortably during the push-up. And lastly, if we wanted to emphasize the shoulders a little more, then we would want to elevate our feet up onto a high enough platform or perform a pike push-up.

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The next push up form check you need to do is for shoulder shrugging. Even if you have the proper hand placement, once you start fatiguing and grinding out reps it’s easy to let the shoulders shrug up towards the ears. This not only shifts tension away from the chest and onto the traps but also causes you to lose a ton of stability and pressing strength. So instead, using your lats, actively pull your shoulders down and away from your ears and into a stable and locked position that you’ll want to maintain. Lastly, is speed. If push-ups have gotten pretty easy for you, instead of just trying to bang out more push-ups as fast as you can, slow it down and take at least 2.5 to perform each push-up. You can even slow it down further to 5 or 6 seconds per push-up if you need some added difficulty. Doing so will enable you to stress and grow your target muscles to a greater degree as you get stronger overtime, while placing less unwanted stress on your joints.

Congratulations, you now know how to do a push up correctly! And hopefully, you were able to see that there’s a lot more that goes into even the simplest of exercises like the push-up. Yet if you want to see the best results while minimizing your risk of injury, then you need to apply this same level of detail to each and every one of your exercises in your routine. And for a step-by-step program that does all of this for you, by showing you not only the workouts to do every week, but then how to execute those workouts and exercises to maximize your results, then simply simply take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:

BWS Free Fitness Quiz

Filmed by: Bruno Martin Del Campo

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34 thoughts on “The Perfect Push-Up To Build Muscle (AVOID THESE MISTAKES!)

    • Bogas says:

      In Czech republic we are under lockdown number 2. Gyms are closed again almost 2 months. During lock down push ups are mine best friend. 🙂

    • A Glass of Orange Juice says:

      NY had lockdowns, European nations are having lockdowns as well, parts of Canada

  1. Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication says:

    Good timing, Jeremy, tomorrow is my physical fitness test to join the army. I’m taking today off to rest, but I’ll keep your advices in mind for tomorrow. The push-ups are the hardest part of the test for me.

  2. Ezio Auditore says:

    Honestly, I’m starting to think there’s something fishy the way u drop videos exactly when I need them…
    Thx nevertheless

  3. GoldShred Fitness says:

    I like how easy your explanations are and adding all the graphics you add makes it impossible not to understand. Well done man.

    • Night Falls says:

      me to… my left chest has a more normal shape then my right chest muscle.. my right chest muscle has this, how do i call it? a dip at the inner side,

    • GODZ Painpath says:

      @Night Falls Jeff did say that as long it’s muscle size imbalances, u can fix it but if we’re talking about the muscle fiber allignment, we cannot but only maybe through medical means since it is genetic. I myself has a more rounded right chest but my left is kinda like what ur saying, a lottle bit going on the side.

  4. 10f1 Quantana says:

    Definitely good info I can barely ever get my chest to activate smh I be thinking about getting that 9 in 1 push-up board

  5. clamum says:

    I found out on my own, a couple months ago, that I was shrugging up when doing pushups. Never realized it and I’m 37 frickin years old lol!

    I have that habit in general, not just during pushups. But if you shrug your shoulders up and then bring one of your arms to your chest like in a fly. while trying to contract your pec, you’ll see you can’t contract at all.

    So I’m now constantly aware of my shoulders during upper body exercises cause they tend to shrug so bad. I think it’s getting slightly better but I still need to be focused on it all the time.

    I’ll have to try that “screw your hands to the floor” technique, though. You rock Jeremy!

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