The right way to do a push-up, according to a personal trainer

Holly SmithThere are different types of push-ups you can do.
  • A push-up is an upper-body exercise that is often performed incorrectly.
  • To do push-ups correctly, focus on keeping your body in a straight line and lowering it only until your elbows are in line with your shoulders.
  • There is more than one way to do a push-up. Deviations include kneeling, elevated, and decline push-ups.

Push-ups are a challenging upper-body movement that can be performed anywhere. Thanks to the many variations available for the standard push-up, the exercise can be beneficial for almost everybody. Despite the benefits of a push-up and its variations, the exercise is often performed incorrectly.

Here’s what you need to know.

When it comes to standard push-ups, it’s important to maintain a flat back

Push upsHolly SmithStandard push-up.

To do a standard push-up, begin by placing your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground. Place your feet about hip-width apart, supporting your body with the weight on your hands and toes in a high plank position.

Inhale and bend at the elbow to begin lowering your body toward the floor. Try to keep your body in a straight line with your elbows close, forming a 45-degree with your torso. Once you’re at a depth in which your elbows are in line with your shoulders, exhale, and push yourself back up into the starting, high-plank position. To maintain a neutral spine, keep your eyes fixed just out in front of your hands as you perform the movement.

There are a couple of ways to modify this movement to make it less intense and easier on the joints, such as performing elevated push-ups or kneeling push-ups.

Keep your chest over the top of your hands while doing an elevated push-up

Elevated push upiStockElevated push-up.

To perform this movement, select an object with a firm, flat surface that is elevated off of the ground such as a countertop, bench, or moveable bar. The proper way to perform this movement is just the same as what is outlined above, however, the angle of your body during this movement is different. You will have to be conscious of keeping your chest over the top of your hands as you perform this movement. The greater the elevation of the object, the lower the intensity this movement will be.

Decline push-ups are more advanced than your standard push-ups

Push upHolly SmithDecline push-up.

This movement is more advanced than your standard push-up. Begin by finding an elevated surface to place your feet on. The higher the surface is from the floor, the more difficult this movement will be. Just like a standard push-up, your starting point requires that your feet be hip-width apart, hands just wider than shoulder-width, and your weight distributed amongst your hands and feet.

Because your body is at an angle, be mindful to not let your hips drop and not let your body weight shift too far forward. As you lower your body towards the floor, your elbows should still create a 45-degree angle with your torso, with your hands just outside of your chest at the bottom of this movement. Exhale and push yourself back up into your starting, high-plank position.

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