Proper Push-Up Ultimate Guide: How to Do Push-Ups with Correct Form

Personal Trainer

The push-up exercise is one of my favorites

This is a fundamental movement in strength training and something EVERYBODY should do regularly. At Apex Performance we find it imperative that you use as close to a perfect form as you can to eliminate injury! It’s a task that 95% of people do wrong. After reading today’s guide, you will know how to properly push up using the correct form.

Proper form is key to pushing ups. If you do push-ups with poor forms, such as going down halfway, sticking your head in the air, or doing 25 push-ups, it will be difficult to see if your strength has improved.

How to get in a proper push-up position:

Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground.

You should draw a straight line down from your chest/nipple to the ground – it should be right over your thumbnail.

Your hands should be set up in a way that is comfortable for you, depending on your experience and strength. My hands are set so that my middle fingers point straight up.

To relieve wrist pain. (if your wrist flexibility is limited), do push-ups while holding onto push-up handles (so that your wrists don’t become compromised).

If you are really hardcore, you can do them right on your knuckles as long as they’re on a semi-soft floor like carpet or grass. You can scratch that last one.

Your feet should be placed in a way that is comfortable and balanced. Some people might prefer to have their feet spaced at shoulder width.

Others might feel the need to touch your feet. The rule of thumb is that the farther your feet are apart, the better you will be able to do push-ups.

Think of your body in one continuous straight line. Starting at your top and ending at your toes. Your butt should not be sticking out in the air or sagging. Essentially, you’re holding a plank through the whole movement.

This is a great way to achieve the right shape for your body. clench your glutes and then tighten up your abs like you’re getting punched.

You will feel your core engaged and your body should follow that line. This could be a major change if you have been doing push-ups wrongly.

To make sure that you are doing it right, record a video.

Your head should look slightly forward, not down.

I was told somewhere that your chin should touch the ground first, not your nose.

If you need to keep your body in order, looking up will help you do so. However, if you need to concentrate more, you can look down.

Your arms should be straight at the top of your pushup. Now you can do a pushup.

I would like to pay special attention to the first step, with hand position. Nearly everyone does push-ups with arms out too far and shoulders flung. This is bad news for bears.

Your arms and body should form an arrow if I were to look down at you from the top, not a T.

How to do a perfect push-up:

  • Stand straight with your arms extended, your butt clenched and your abs braced. Slowly lower your elbows until they are at 90 degrees or less. Depending on your experience level, flexibility and age, 90 degrees may be the lowest that you can go. My personal preference is to descend until my chest touches the ground (not my face). This way I know that I am going the same distance every time.
  • Don’t let your elbows fly with every repetition. Take note of the times they begin to fly when you are tired.
  • When your chest or nose/chin touches the floor (or you lower your arms to a 90-degree angle), stop and then explode up again until you are back in the exact same position.
  • You can do as many as possible until your form starts to slip slightly; you’re done.
    Why you should place more emphasis on form than quantity:

    • It is difficult to compare 11 good pushups with 10 crappy ones.
    • Write down the results if you are unable to do more than 10 things. Next time, aim for 11.
    • The perfect form lets you keep track of your progress week after week.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of personal training in Tampa, one-on-one training, small group classes, and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training, and body goals!