Pushups: Easy Doesn’t Mean Better

By Matt Berni, A Game Sports Director of Strength & Conditioning

Pushups are one of the most beneficial exercises this world has to offer, and don’t even require any equipment. Yet, as simple as they are, many people cannot perform them correctly, and in turn, are putting themselves at risk for a potential shoulder injury.  Here are some coaching cues to help you:

  1. Assume the “up” pushup position on the ground. Your hands should be just outside shoulder width apart.
  2. Squeeze your butt as hard as you can.
  3. SET YOUR CORE. In other words, think of pushing your rib cage down to your belly button.
  4. ELBOWS IN. Imagine there were doorknobs under each of your hands. Try turning the right doorknob clockwise, and the left doorknob counter-clockwise.
  5. Lower yourself until the tip of your nose touches the ground. MAKE SURE you keep your elbows in close to your body. Your thumbs should be in line with the center of your chest.
  6. Once the tip of your nose touches the ground, push the ground away from you with your palms.

Now, the correct way of doing a pushup is much harder than the “elbows out” way. If you cannot do more than 4 correct pushups consecutively, you may want to regress the movement to the following:

Pushup to Box

You can adjust the height of the box or object you do pushups from according to how many you can do consecutively from that box/object.  My general rule of thumb is: more than 12, progress to a lower object.

Do not get discouraged if you can’t do a correct pushup. Start from a height you can perform 8 repetitions at, and progress from there. Make pushups part of your daily list of tasks!

Incorrect Pushup

Correct Pushup

Pushup to a Box (Regression)