Updated: Feb 26
A standard push-up that is done the correct way will result in a healthy, stronger body. A Standard push-up improves your upper body strength, but that's not all. Push-ups build a better mindset and improve your core and posture.
When you have better posture, you have less back pain or pain in general.
Common Push-up Mistakes
Here are some common mistakes people make when doing push-ups.
How's your hand placement? Most people place their hands too wide and too far forward. Make sure the heel of each palm is directly under each shoulder, just slightly wider than the chest width apart. Also, make sure your wrists aren't angled inward or outward, but instead neutrally aligned with your middle finger pointing straight ahead. I really have to focus on this one because I am prone to having my hand placement too wide especially if I'm feeling tired.
Avoid dropping your head. Many people are so concerned with the actual act of completing a push-up, they forget that a big part of the exercise is maintaining spinal alignment. Make sure to keep your neck neutral, with your eyes on the ground, to help prevent yourself from looking up.
Keep your back strong. A side-effect of your head being dropped leads your lower back to sag as well. This is also due to weak core strength. If you struggle to keep your core tight to prevent your back from dipping, practice your push-ups with a modification until you can hold the plank pose for a minute.
Form mistakes are common. They are particularly difficult to correct when you don't have someone to point them out to you. Try practicing in front of a mirror or ask a friend to assess your form.
How Push-ups Go Beyond Just Strength
Are there other benefits to doing a push-up than just strength? There sure it! In my previous post, I wrote about push-ups strengthening your mindset. But that's not all a push-up does.
One of the most underrated benefits of doing push-ups is the stretch it provides to your biceps and back muscles. By lowering yourself to the floor and extending your arms straight, you're increasing your flexibility, which helps prevent injuries.
Push-ups are a compound exercise because they require multiple muscle groups. When you simultaneously engage large muscle groups, your heart must work harder to deliver oxygen-rich blood to muscle tissue, which means push-ups enhance your cardiovascular system. This is why you can usually feel your heart rate go up even though you are not doing an exercise such as cardio to get your heart rate up.
Because push-ups require a stable form, you're building the muscles necessary for a healthy posture. As you regularly engage in push-ups, your body will naturally lean toward proper posture.
Another Muscle Group To Work On That Will Help With Push-ups
Another muscle group used when performing push-ups is the shoulder muscles.
Here are a few shoulder exercises to help you build shoulder strength and perfect your push-up. You will need some weight for these moves. If you don't have dumbbells handy, try resistance bands or household items. (Try filling water bottles with sand.)
- Stand with light weights in each hand at your sides, shoulders back, knuckles facing out.
- Raise one arm, rotating your wrist, so your palms are facing the floor, bringing the weight up to eye level.
- Return the weight to your side, then repeat with the opposite arm.
- Be sure to control the weight and avoid excess arm swing on the descent, and avoid leaning to either side.
- Stand or sit with a weight in each hand at your sides.
- Keep your back straight, brace your core, and then slowly lift the weights out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor, with the elbow slightly bent.
- Then lower them back down.
I do both the front raise and the lateral raise for my cool downs after each workout, 3x per week. You really only need light weights. I only use 3lbs weights for both of these exercises.
For this move, check out this how-to video: https://youtu.be/zvId5KzQGwk