Shawn Arent, the director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University and a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, demonstrates the proper form for the push-up.
Special thanks to David Sanders.
Following is a transcript of the video.
They’re easy to do when you have no equipment and you can work the chest, the shoulders and the triceps along with this.
From a starting position, one of the things you’ll notice is Dave is going to have his hands set just outside of his shoulders. Elbows are pointing back slightly and his body is already in a straight and he’s all the way down.
And you notice at this point his head is in a neutral position, his neck is flat, his back is flat, and his weight is between his hands and the balls of his feet.
When Dave lowers himself down he’s going to keep his elbows slightly back towards himself.
And as he pushes himself back up, he’s going to prevent them from flaring out.
What we don’t want him to do is flare his elbows out
One of the things we want to avoid as well is dropping his head. When doing this, you wind up rounding your spine and getting improper technique this way too and you’re not putting optimal pressure on the chest in order to do the movement.
The other thing too with a proper push-up is you don’t want to wind up in a pike position where his butt is up in the air.
But you also don’t want to wind up where your hips are sagging as you come down too.
To do a proper push-up, touch yourself all the way to the floor, then push back up.
If you have a hard time doing a full push-up, what he can actually do is do this from his knees. All you’re going to do is put the weight on your knees, as well as your hands at this point. Same motion with the upper body, keeping the spine flat, head up in a neutral position. Press all the way down and then all the way up.
Another variation on the push-up to make it slightly easier, would be to put your hands on the bench in order to do it as well.
We want to keep a neutral spine, head up, and when he pushes down, lower himself press back up to a full extension and he’s keeping himself completely flat in through the spine as well.
An alternative when using the bench is instead of making the push-up easier is to actually make it harder. In this case, you’ll put your feet up on the bench in order to do the push-up now.
Again with his spine in a nice neutral position, lowering all the way down to the ground.
Keeps his back flat. Keeps his hips from sagging.
And that’s what a push-up would look like with your feet up on the bench to actually make it harder, instead of easier.
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