Ok ladies, let’s talk push-ups. Push-ups and pull-ups tend to be our exercise nemeses as women. You rarely hear women say, “I’m really strong at push-ups, but my squats could use some work.” How odd does that sound?
As women, our powerhouse is in our hips and legs, not our arms. (For men, their powerhouse is usually in their arms. This is why your husband that never works out can still do pull-ups and push-ups. Ugh…so annoying.)
Let’s zone in on the push-up today. I want to teach you several tips and tricks to help you feel stronger with your push-ups and eventually help you feel like you can master these.
Here are 5 things that you can focus on to make your push-ups better:
1. Think of a push-up as a moving plank. If your plank is a hot mess, doing push-ups will be nearly impossible. Spend some time mastering your plank position. Your body should be a rigid board, with no sags or buckles. If you can powerfully fire all of the muscles that create that stiff board, then your push-up will come together better.
Click here for a good video on the "perfect plank". Now that you’ve fine-tuned your planks, use this position when you’re doing push-ups.
2. Position your hands properly. Just as you practiced with your tall planks, get your fingers spread out and press your fingerpads into the floor. It also helps to spread your hands a couple inches wider than shoulder width. Narrow push-ups are incredibly difficult. Once your hands are positioned, make sure your head is ahead of your hands. As you descend, your head should hit in front of your hands, not between them.
3. Position your elbows properly. To keep your shoulders happy, your elbows should be angled away from your body at about a 45 degree angle. Don’t tuck them in and don’t let them point directly out to the side. Your shoulders and neck will pay for it later.
4. Use your breath. Inhale through your nose as you descend toward the floor. A split second before you begin your ascent, exhale powerfully through your mouth. This creates more stiffness through your core so you can maintain that really nice plank throughout the movement.
5. Elevate. Resist the urge to drop to your knees to make it easier. When the knees come down, your core doesn’t have to work as hard, which is usually the limiting factor for good push-ups. Let’s keep the core engaged by simply elevating the hands. Use all the same technique tips for floor push-ups, but place your hands on a workout bench, the arm of a couch, a dining room table, or even a countertop. As your push-ups get better, you can start lowering the elevation.
See exactly what I'm talking about in this video below...
Now, here are 5 things to NOT do when trying to master your push-ups. These are a couple quick reminders as you’re practicing!
How to get better. If the floor is too challenging, become a push-up master with your hands elevated. But at some point, you should start lowering that elevation, eventually meeting up with the floor again.
If you feel ready to give it a try, do a couple really nice push-ups at the lower elevation (or even on the floor), then finish out your set at the more familiar height. The moment you feel your technique breaking down, stop where you're at and find a height that works better.
If you keep practicing these tips, soon doing push-ups on the floor will not seem so scary and you can be confident in your body!
Click here for more free technique tips like this one!
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Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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