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Push-ups: How to Perform a Proper Push-up, Common Mistakes and Popular Variations

In this article you will learn the following

  1. How to perform a proper push-up
  2. What are the common mistakes
  3. Different variations of push-ups
  4. Maximum push-ups humans have performed.

Push-ups may appear to be a very simple exercise, yet at some point of time all of us have done them incorrectly. So lets get into the details of how to perform them

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How to perform a proper Push up

To perform a proper push up, lay on a floor face down with your torso at arms length from the floor. Place the palms on the side at the level of mid-chest, while your elbows are locked.

Now lower yourself while breathing in, until your chest touches the floor. Your elbows should remain tucked in and close to your body.

With the chest close to the floor and keeping the core tight, exhale and press up until your arms are fully extended again.

Common Push Up Mistakes to Avoid

Partial Push-ups: Decreasing the range of motion and not going all the way down to the floor, will not give you full benefit of push-ups. For optimal results always perform push-ups over the full range of motion where your chest touches the floor.

Dropping your butt down: This generally happens when you get tired. This decreases the range of motion, as you are not able to bring your chest all the way down. This reduces the effectiveness of push-ups

Lifting your butt too high: This is the opposite of mistake 2. By lifting the butt too high, you start to engage your shoulders in the push-ups, thus taking the emphasis away from the chest, which is the muscle you really want to target in push-ups.

Flaring your elbows out: Flaring your elbows out places your shoulders in a compromising situation and may lead to shoulder injury. Always keep your shoulders tucked in. The angle between your torso and your arms should be 30-60 degrees

Fast Push-ups: Using momentum and performing the push up very fast is just a waste of time, as it does not provide any benefits. The whole push up movement should be performed in a controlled manner.

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Benefits of Push Ups

A push up mainly targets your chest, anterior shoulders or deltoids and your triceps. However the benefit does not end there, this exercise also uses your abs and biceps as stabilizer muscles. Push ups is a great strength builder and can also be used as an endurance exercise

Push Up Variations

Knee Push-ups: In a regular push up you are supporting about 70% of the body. To decrease the intensity you may perform knee pushups, where your knees are touching the floor. This way you decrease the supported weight to 55% thus making it easy. This is very helpful for someone who is just starting out.

Incline Push up: In this variation you place you palms on a bench instead of the floor thus performing the push up at an angle. This transfers the emphasis to the upper chest and shoulder. The weight supported is lower than regular push ups, hence this version is easier to perform than regular push up. The weight supported decreases as you increase the angle. This is great for folks who are not even able to perform knee push-ups as they can just increase the angle to make the exercise easy.

Decline Push up: In this variation you place you feet on a bench, while the palms are placed on the floor. This transfers the emphasis to the lower chest. The weight supported is higher than regular push ups, hence this version is harder to perform.

Wide hand Push-ups: This variation is performed by keeping your hands wide apart. By placing the hands further apart, you can place more emphasis on the chest and decrease the emphasis on the elbows.

Close hand Push-ups: In this version, you place your hand closer to each other. This variation transfers the emphasis from your chest to your triceps.

Plyometric Push up: For explosive power you can perform plyometric push up where you explode at the bottom of the movement with the palms leaving the floor at the top of the movement. As you get better at this you can add a clap in between each rep.

Weighted Push-ups: As you get stronger, push-ups will get easier for you. At that stage you can put some weight in a backpack and perform the push-ups with it. This will increase the intensity of the push-ups.

Push-ups are a great exercise for both strength and endurance and the best part is you can perform them anywhere

The most push-ups performed in one hour are 3,877 and was achieved by Bijender Singh from India. Charles Servizio from USA holds the current world record for most push-ups in 24 hours, he performed 46,001 push-ups in about 21 hours, can you believe it?