We haven’t taken an official poll yet, but we know push-ups are one of the hardest moves to master. They look easy – kind of – but if you’ve ever done push-ups, then you know exactly how hard they are. If you’re ready to take your push-up game to the next level, you’ve got to make sure your form is on point.
“Having your elbows at a 45-degree position, like an ‘A’ shape from an overhead view, is the classic neutral push-up, which aims to put most of the workload on your chest muscles,” Thanu Jey, CSCS, the clinic director at Yorkville Sports Medicine, told POPSUGAR.
If you’ve got the traditional push-up down and want to target your shoulders and chest more, you should have your elbows pointed straight out to the side, creating more of a “T” shape, Jey explained. “This can be a challenging position for someone with pain in the front of their shoulder or a history of unstable shoulders,” explained Michael Falk, DPT, CSCS. If you do experience pain in your shoulders, another option is to do a triceps push-up, Michael said.
To work your triceps and chest, keep your elbows tight by your side, pointing backward, Thanu explained. Keeping your elbows close to your sides will engage your lats more and stabilise your shoulders, said William P. Kelley, DPT, CSCS.
You should also remember to keep your wrists in line with your shoulders and ensure that your hands are completely flat on the ground (here’s more information on where your hands should be). Think about pushing through both palms with all of your fingers on the ground as you push your body up. Your spine and neck should also be in a neutral position. Finally, don’t forget to breathe. “Breathing should be a full breath in on the way down and a forceful exhale on the way up,” Dr. Kelley explained.
Now that you know what your form should look like, put it to the test with these strengthening push-up variations.