You've Been Doing Pushups Wrong (VIDEO INSIDE)

The pushup in this image is:

a) performed correctly 

b) performed incorrectly 

If you answered (a), you definitely need to read this article. 

If you answered (b), you should still continue reading because that was a gimme. 

When working with clients, I like the idea of likening an exercise to posture while moving. Most of you will be able to picture what good posture looks like; shoulders back, chest spread, long neck and a straight line that can be drawn from the ear, down to the ankle (called the plum line). Now, if we flip Eric (the guy in the photo) vertical, he wouldn't satisfy the criteria we just mentioned. He would look more like Kramer from the Kenny Rogers chicken episode. 

Here's how to do a pushup in 3 easy steps. 

1. Start on the floor. 
Getting a feeling of 'straight' can be difficult when you go upside down or horizontal. The floor is flat/straight; his will allow you to start in a straight position.  

2. 3-point liftoff 
You must maintain your straight position throughout the movement. Make sure your chest, tummy and thighs leave the floor at the same time. 

3. Full lockout
Strength is range-specific. If we don't go to full extension, we will never be strong at full extension. Take a second at lockout, then reverse the movement. 

"That was much harder than it looked."

It isn't uncommon for a new client to boast they can perform 30 or more repetitions when I ask how many pushups they can perform.  Then, we get to the reverse pushup, and they struggle to perform 5 correctly. The most common technique error is 'the peel'. Here, your chest leaves the floor before your hips and you are essentially only lifting half of your bodyweight. 

Luckily, the solution is easy. Tighten your core as if you were bracing for a kick to the gut. This will make your lower body become connected to your upper body. 

WARNING: You are going to feel much heavier, now you are lifting your WHOLE body. 

Are you a visual learner? 

Watch our breakdown of the Reverse Pushup where we cover tips on how to perform the technique correctly along with common errors that you may be doing. 

What's next? How do I make it harder? 

If you found yourself thinking this question, hit the deck and first see whether you can perform 15 pushups from the ground up with perfect technique. 

Can't do it? Then it's not time for a more difficult exercise progression. 

Our BaseBlocks system uses exercise regressions to master training concepts, develop a basic understanding of movement and build a strength foundation. After you have have hit the rep milestone (15), it's time to perform a slightly harder variant. This cycle of new movement, test reps and unlock new exercises continues 

Resist the temptation of jumping into the advanced stuff, and invest time in mastering the basics. 


Our Master the Basics eBook covers training theory, exercise instructionals, express workouts and beginner and intermediate programs