Rules for Doing Better Push-Ups

Push-ups are some of the most practiced exercises in training routines. However, you must maintain a proper technique in order to get better results.
Rules for Doing Better Push-Ups

Last update: 05 February, 2020

It’s very rare when a training routine doesn’t include push-ups, but not all athletes do these exercises in the most correct or efficient way. In this article, we’ll show you a series of tips for doing better push-ups and, at the same time, avoiding any type of injury caused by poor execution.

Doing better push-ups: proper execution

As we’ve said, push-ups are a common exercise, both for people who train in a sports center and for those who decide to train at home. Although it’s very common for people to do push-ups, most of the time you’ll notice that their technique isn’t the best.

In most cases, the way in which push-ups are usually performed isn’t the most efficient or the best for your joints. This can cause some pain and discomfort that, as time passes, can lead to quite severe injuries. Therefore, you must be careful with your technique. Remember, it’s always better to do fewer push-ups and keep a good technique than to do many and risk injuries.

The first thing to do in order to understand how push-ups work is to know what muscle groups are involved in this exercise. Largely, push-ups engage the upper body and the abs. However, you need to control your movements in order to perceive its benefits.

What muscles intervene when we do pushups?

In order to do efficient push-ups, you need to be aware of which muscles are involved in these movements. Knowing your own body will allow you to get the best out of your training.

Here are the main muscles involved in push-ups, listed by the degree of involvement in the exercise:

  • Triceps Brachii
  • Pectoralis Major
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Deltoid Muscle

Despite all of this, we mustn’t forget one of the factors that’ll allow us to activate all this musculature, which is none other than having control over our movements.

Rules for doing better push-ups: the importance of technique

To start doing efficient push-ups, having a good technique is the most important factor. However, how can you develop a good technique? To achieve your goals, here are a series of basic rules to start doing better push-ups.

1. Your arms are important

The position of the arms is key. We must place our hands on a flat surface, placing your wrists right below your shoulders. Keep your fingers open wide to provide your body with enough stability throughout the exercise. Make sure your index finger is pointing forward, placing the rest of your hand accordingly.

Push-ups, one of the classic bodyweight exercises for men.
Push-ups: one of the classic bodyweight exercises for men.

While flexing your arms, make sure you pay special attention to the position of your hands. Many people tend to rotate their hands inward when going down, but this could be dangerous for your elbows. Remember, if you have to rotate your hands to be more comfortable, rotate them outward for better execution.

2. Keep your core engaged

You have to remember that push-ups involve your whole body, not only your arms. This means you have to engage your back muscles, gluteal muscles, and even thighs to get this exercise right. Keep your core tight in order to get that strong plank position. By doing this you’ll avoid lower back pain and many possible injuries.

3. Upper body position

Being in control of your own body is a matter of constant practice. However, it’s important you keep your mind focused on controlling your movements while doing push-ups. Maintain your hips forward to strengthen your spine, keeping it as straight as you can.

If you can’t keep your back straight while flexing your arms, we recommend you start by just practicing the plan position. The plank is one of the best exercises to strengthen your core while engaging your arms.

4. Flexing your arms

Once you’ve mastered the proper plank position, carefully place your hands on the floor, keep your back straight and core engaged. It’s now time to flex your arms. Keep your shoulders away from your ears.

The main goal of a proper push-up is to lower your chest to the floor. Make sure you keep your shoulders above your wrists, even when lowering your body. The effort should be made mainly on your abs and core, never on your neck. When going up, push against the floor to lift your body.

Important factors to consider for doing better push-ups

The stability and control we have over our body will make a difference when doing better push-ups. Still, there are many factors involved in doing push-ups. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Lumbar and pelvic area stability will be key. Engaging your core is the secret to achieving powerful and effective push-ups. One of the most common mistakes we make when doing push-ups is not properly stabilizing the gluteal and abdominal area at the same time. As for the pelvic area, try to keep your hips aligned with your back, without making an uncomfortable arch.
There are different ways of doing push-ups on the ground, each more complex than the other.
There are different ways of doing push-ups on the ground, each more complex than the other.
  • Controlling your shoulder blades. This isn’t always easy to control, but controlling the movements of your shoulder blades is very important to achieve better push-ups. If you don’t control the position of your shoulder blades when pushing against the floor, you could injure your back. 
  • Shoulder position. Many of us have a tendency to rotate our shoulders and bring our elbows out when we start doing push-ups. To avoid this potentially harmful position, keep your shoulders back and try to open your elbows as little as possible, keeping them close to your body.

Now that we’ve mastered the most important tips when doing push-ups, it’s time for you to try everything you’ve learned.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Batbayar, Y., Daisuke, U., Rie, N., & Masaaki, S. (2015). Effect of various hand position widths on scapular stabilizing muscles during the push-up plus exercise in healthy people. Journal Of Physical Therapy Science, 27(8), 2573-2576.
  • Kyung-Mi, P., Heon-Seock, C., Oh-Yun, K., Chung-Hwi, Y., Tae-Lim, Y., & Ji-Hyun, L. (2014). Comparison of pectoralis major and serratus anterior muscle activities during different push-up plus exercises in subjects with and without scapular winging. Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins), 28(9), 2546-2551.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.