Perfect Your Pushup by Avoiding These 3 Mistakes |

Perfect Your Pushup by Avoiding These 3 Mistakes

PLENTY OF GUYS use their pushup max as a bragging right. But if they tell you they’re scoring 50, 75, or 100 consecutive reps, don’t automatically assume they’re strong. Very often there’s a different reason for the big numbers, and it comes down to pushup form.

“Everyone thinks they can do a whole bunch of pushups,” says Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.Men’s Health fitness director. “But nine times out of ten, the people who tell you they can do a lot of push ups are just cutting corners.”

There are a handful of mistakes people make when doing pushups that might make them feel stronger in the moment, but in many of these instances, they’re ditching quality movement and short-circuiting the true muscle-building and strength-training effects of the pushup. Here, Samuel explains the three stealthiest pushup cheats that people use when they’re trying to pile up reps.

3 Common Pushup Mistakes

Mistake #1: You’re not finish your reps.

You’ll often see guys in the gym repping out pushups as fast as possible. If you look closely, you might notice them only completing about 75 percent of the rep, stopping just short of the full lock out of the elbows. This makes the reps easier because there’s less time under tension in every rep. It also takes out a lot of the work from the triceps (most involved in the act of locking out the elbow), which is skipped when you cut reps short.

Mistake #2: You’re not going all the way down

This is the reverse of the first mistake: you’ll often see people not lower their chest all the way to within an inch of the ground, cutting out a portion of the bottom of the rep. This low portion of the rep is the most challenging portion, where you get the maximum stretch on the chest.

“This time it’s almost worse [than the first mistake], too—because I’m cutting time under tension in that critical stretch portion of the rep,” Samuel says.

Mistake #3: You’re raising your hips as you fatigue

In a set of all out pushups, your chest likely starts to fatigue 30 or 40 reps in. To combat that fatigue, you might accidentally start hiking your hips up (in a perfect pushup position, your body is set up in a flat line from your heels all the way up through your shoulders). This takes a bit of the tension off the chest by changing the angle at which you’re pushing, and requires less output out of the core.

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How to Do a Perfect Pushup

Now that we’ve seen what mistakes not to make, let’s take a look at the proper way to do a pushup. To avoid all of these mistakes, take your time with every rep. Hold at the bottom and top of the motion for at least a second each. That probably means you won’t be able to rep out 100 pushups—that’s okay. It’s better to do high-quality reps for a shorter amount of time than low-quality for longer.

eb pushupMEN’S HEALTH

How to Do It:

  • Start in a high plank position, hands stacked directly below your shoulders.
  • Squeeze your shoulders, glutes, and core to create full-body tension. Your spine should form a straight line, with a neutral spine.
  • Bend your elbows to descend to the floor, stopping with your chest about one inch off the ground. Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle relative to the torso. Hold here for one second.
  • Press back up off the floor, raising up to the top position with your elbows fully extended. Hold here for one second before going into your next rep.

Sets and Reps: Aim for 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps, without cheating your form.

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