5 common push-up mistakes

Push-ups are one of the most basic calisthenics exercises used to target pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abs and serratus anterior. There are a number of common variations which will help build upper body strength, but done incorrectly, push-ups can be harmful. Here are some common mistakes.

1. Curved back

It is easier to do a push up if you arch your back and lower your head since this reduces the range of motion and increases the potential number of push-ups that you can do. However, this form does not help build upper body strength. In order to do a proper push-up, the back should be flat and rigid, like a plank.

2. Arm position

Various arm and hand positions can be used to target specific muscle groups. Making a push-up easier by flaring out your shoulders and elbows will not target the appropriate muscle groups and may lead to injury. Start with your wrists directly under your shoulders and maintain the form until you are ready to progress to other types of push-ups.

3. Range of motion

Limiting the range of motion on a push-up will make it easier for you to do more push-ups, but will not target the preferred muscle groups. To be most effective, you should lock your elbows at the top of the motion and your chest should graze the ground at the bottom of the motion.

4. Not engaging other muscles

Push-ups are not just about gaining the strength to lift your body off of the ground and improving upper body strength. Your abs, butt and leg can also benefit by tightening them as you push up. Your shoulders should be retracted.

5. Quantity over quality

There is a temptation to show that you can do a large number of push-ups. Although the number might be impressive, remember that the purpose of including push-ups in your workout routine is to strengthen various muscle groups. You will get the greatest benefit from concentrating on proper form and then increasing the quantity over time.

Note: If you find it too difficult to do push-ups perfectly following the guidelines above, start with stair push-ups: follow all of the guidelines above but start with your feet on the floor and your hands on a stair.  The higher the stair, the easier the push-up. Similarly, to make the push-up more difficult, place your hands on the floor and feet on a stair: an inverted push-up. Other variations can be found at https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/muscles-worked-push-ups.

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