Potentially one of the simplest and most effective bodyweight exercises out there would be the push-up. Regardless of its popularity and reputation, many people are making small to large mistakes in regards to their push up game that risks it all. It puts progress at risk as well pain and injury.
Elbows can be awkward and make it difficult to find the proper positioning for them. Some people like to go extra wide with their elbows thinking that it is going to target the chest more. In reality, it can do the opposite AND put the shoulders / wrists at risk.
Let’s break down the pressing motion. Our elbows should ideally line up with chest fibers to stimulate maximum muscle activation. With a wide grip, it can limit the range of motion and forces the elbows too far out on the lower end of the movement. This reduces the activation in the chest - the total opposite of what a push up is supposed to be.
If you’ve ever cranked out a bunch of push ups to compete with someone else or for a fitness test, that’s great. But you might have sacrificed true form in order to do so. Plus, it’s not something that we recommend incorporating in your workouts. A more slow and controlled motion offers more activation to the chest, triceps, and rear delts while ensuring that there is less force in your elbow joints. If you’re able to crank out your set of push ups, try incorporating two seconds to perform each push up and see what that does for you.
Keep hands placed in a neutral position facing forward. Think of it almost like a squat. When you squat, you keep your feet placed and push weight into your heels. With a push up, keep hands firmly placed onto the ground and think about distributing weight throughout your hand.
Target Specific Muscles
One of the best things about push-ups is that they offer a variety of ways to make progress. When including push-ups into your workout routine, make sure to set a goal for what you’re trying to target. For more chest focus; try moving hands slightly back and keeping elbows stacked on top of the wrist. This will place more tension on the chest than triceps.
To target triceps, tuck elbows backward and inward with hands being placed comfortably apart. For shoulders, try to elevate your feet to create more tension in the shoulders than chest and triceps.
We’ve all been there where we start to get tired during our set but still want to crank out more. Once we start to feel that fatigue, we can slip into letting shoulders hunch towards the ears. This will allow for the traps to take some of that pressure and in turn, compromises stability.
Think about activating your lats, pulling shoulders down and away from the ears. This locked position should be maintained throughout each set. It will help ensure that the most tension goes towards the appropriately targeted muscle.
December 02, 2020