The Perfect Pushup

When a new member signs up at Synergy, one of the first things we do during the fitness assessment is count the number of push ups they can do. There’s a reason for that, and it is because that number is an excellent indication of someone’s overall fitness level. Now, you might think a pushup is all about upper body strength. But the reality is that to perform a pushup with proper form takes total body strength. And, doing them regularly has massive benefits.

A traditional pushup hits your upper body by engaging your triceps, chest and shoulders. And when you’re doing them on your toes you build strength in your core and lower back. You’ll keep your legs and butt tight too.

You can hit different muscles with a push up by changing the position of your hands. The most common push up, with your arms slightly wider than your shoulders, works mostly your chest and your shoulders. Bringing your hands and arms in tighter to your body turns a traditional pushup to a tricep pushup. For most people these are more challenging since they rely on the tricep, a much smaller muscle, to propel the movement. But, if you can do them they’ll give the back of your arms a blast!

If you come to Synergy, you’ll find yourself doing pushups at almost every small group training. But you can do a pushup anywhere! Here’s how to do a perfect pushup:

  1. Your arms should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Keep your back straight and your core engaged.
  3. Keep your butt down, not lifted.
  4. Keep your body in a straight line. Don’t arch your back or drop your hips. This will actually make the pushups feel harder.
  5. Aim to get your chest down far enough so that your arms are level with your shoulders.
  6. Keep your neck and head straight with your eyes about 6 inches in front of you.

If you’re not able to do a push up on your toes, there are a few options to work your way up to it. You can start by doing them on your knees to build up your chest and shoulder strength. But, it’s super important if you’re doing them on your knees to keep your butt tucked in and your hips forward. To get into the proper position, start in a high plank with your core, butt and quads engaged. When you drop your knees down, be sure to keep those muscles contracted. You can also start by doing push ups off an elevated surface like a bench or a box.

If you’ve already perfected your pushup and want more of a challenge, you can try lifting one leg at a time as you push up. You can also try pulsing an inch or two at the lowest point before pushing yourself back up. And, even more challenging is starting and finishing each rep with your body flat on the floor.

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