Quick checklist of how to do a push up right:
1. Chest to the floor, arms locked - no excuses.
2. Locked abs, body straight and rigid - no floppy fishes or harbour bridges.
3. Shoulders down, chest proud.
4. Elbows tucked in - protect your shoulders.
5. Neck straight and parallel to the ground, eye level down.
6. Keep wrists neutral - very easy to aggravate.
Benefits of push ups:
Push ups are about the best and most accessible exercise anyone can do to build full body strength and endurance. No gym, no equipment, just wake up and bust out some push ups everyday to get stronger, fitter and better posture.
Step 1: Range of Motion
To fully develop the muscles around the chest, arms, shoulder blades and back you need a full range of motion. To do that, touch the floor with your chest on every rep and lock you arms out when you extend.
Don't be that person who can do 40 push ups in 20 seconds. Take your time, focus on each muscle contraction and enjoy the negative resistance for a mighty fine burn.
Variation: a good extension of a standard push up is to push even further away from the ground with your shoulder blades, and really extend your scapulas to improve shoulder stabilisation and build those hidden muscles.
Step 2: Lock in your core
At every point of the push up, your body should be one straight, rigid line. Imagine a rod running from your head to your ankles. To do that, keep your core tensed and your pelvis tilted toward your sternum - you'll especially notice the effort this needs on the way up after a few reps.
Locking in your core creates a harder push up that you'll execute in one movement. If you flop your core, or arch your back on the way up you'll notice two movements and probably be able to do twice as many reps.
No floppy fishes and no harbour bridges.
Step 3: Keep your shoulders down and chest proud
You really want to avoid going into a shrug at any point in your push up. Don't concentrate on keeping your shoulder blades contracted together. Focus instead on lowering your shoulders and extending your chest out. Contract your shoulder blades on the downward, but on the upward let your shoulder blades fully extend away from the spine.
Step 4: Tuck your elbows
If you let your elbows flare to the sides you'll possibly feel some discomfort through your front deltoid area. To protect your shoulders tuck your elbows.
If you want a wider stretch across your chest, instead of flaring your elbows you can widen your hand positioning - but still keep your elbows tucked, and be sure to angle your hands to protect your wrists.
Step 5: Keep your neck straight
The best way to make a push up easier is to lower your head position - don't be a sissy. Keep your neck in a straight line, parallel to the ground.
Also keep your eye level down and be sure not to look upwards or ahead of you. You'll extend your neck back and put unnecessary strain there.
Step 6: Protect the wrists
Sore wrists is super common from poor push up form. To avoid that you can do push ups on your fists, or use dumbbells. You can also turn your hands outwards to ease the pressure on your wrists.
Our last tip on nailing push ups is to do them to the point of failure. Count how many you can do then make sure you add at least +1 the next day - even if that means you have to break it up into two sets.
Get stuck in!