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Common Pushup Mistakes to Avoid

Are you looking to improve your pushup form or increase the number of pushups you can do? Pushups are one of the most beneficial exercises, as they strengthen your core and upper body, and improve your cardiovascular health.


Unfortunately, pushups aren’t the easiest exercise to perform. A lot of people make mistakes when doing pushups that make it hard for them to reap all of the benefits that this exercise has to offer.


What mistakes do you need to avoid?


Check out this guide to discover the common pushup mistakes to avoid.



Related: The Link Between Pushups and a Healthy Heart



5 Common Pushup Mistakes



If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been doing pushups since your elementary school P.E. classes. But, if you’ve never taken the time to study your form, there’s a good chance that you’re doing a pushup all wrong.


Here are the most common pushup mistakes you need to watch out for:


1. Hand Placement


A proper pushup all starts with placing your hands in the correct position. If you place your hands too far forward or too wide, you’ll put undue pressure on your shoulders or wrists (unless you’re doing a wide-grip pushup).


When doing a standard pushup, you want your hands to be shoulder-width apart. To make sure they’re in the right position, place the heel of each palm directly under each shoulder. This will provide a sturdy base for you to slowly lower your body toward the floor.


In addition to checking your hand placement, you also want to make sure your elbows aren’t flared out. People tend to flare out their elbows when their hands are too wide, so first, make sure your hands are in the right place.


Position your elbows so that they’re tucked in by your side, as this will alleviate pressure on your shoulders.


2. Letting Your Hips Sag


Allowing your hips to sag is another common mistake people make when doing pushups.


Most people's hips and lower backs sag when they don’t have the baseline strength to do a pushup correctly. Your hips and backs should never be sagging when doing a pushup. Instead, they should be in a straight line parallel to the floor.


If you find that you can’t do a pushup without sagging, then you might want to start with a modified pushup until you build up the strength to do a regular pushup. One of the best pushup modifications to do is a knee pushup.


Get into a regular pushup position and then drop to your knees. Then, perform your pushup as you normally would.


Need motivation to do your pushups? Check out this guide to learn how to set workout reminders that work!


3. Crossing Legs While Modifying


Speaking of modifications, you need to be careful that you’re not making the mistake of crossing your legs while modifying your pushups.


When performing a pushup on your knees, it can be tempting to cross your legs at your ankles. However, this isn’t an ergonomically-friendly position. Instead, uncross your legs and place your toes on the ground. This will force you to squeeze your glutes and lower back when performing a pushup, which will help you build up strength faster so you can perform a regular pushup sooner.


Related: 3 Simple Steps to Track Your Workouts


4. Holding Your Breath


Another major mistake people make when doing pushups is holding their breath. When performing a tough exercise, people tend to hold their breath as a way to get extra strength out of their core.


Your muscles need to be fed oxygen on a continuous basis to function properly, so holding your breath isn’t doing you any favors. When performing a pushup, focus on breathing in as you lower your chest toward the floor and breathing out as you push yourself back up again.


Breathing correctly will ensure that you have enough strength to get through all of your reps.


5. Forward Head Posture


When performing a pushup, you also need to make sure that you don’t angle your head too far forward. People tend to angle their heads forward during a pushup when their shoulders aren’t stable.


Reaching your head forward will place stress on your spine and destabilize your neck. Instead, focus on tucking your chin slightly down while doing a pushup, almost as if you’re making a double chin.


How to Do a Pushup




Now that you know the common pushup mistakes to avoid, let’s talk about how to do a pushup. Here’s how to perform the perfect pushup:


  1. Get down on all fours and place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders

  2. Straighten your legs and arms

  3. Lower your body toward the floor until your chest almost touches the floor

  4. Pause for a second at the bottom and then push yourself back up to the starting position

  5. Repeat for as many reps as desired


As you continue with your reps, pay attention to your form. As your arms get more tired, it can be tempting to let go of your form. If you find that you can’t do a pushup with the correct form, switch to a modified pushup for the remainder of your reps.


Before you know it, you’ll be able to move to more complicated pushup variations, such as resistance band pushups or one-arm pushups.


Looking for a challenging pushup variation? Check out this guide to learn how to do a plyo pushup!


Benefits of Perfect Form


Why is perfect form so important when doing a pushup? Doing your pushups with the correct form will help ensure that you don’t get injured.


The right form will also ensure that you reap all of the benefits of pushups, including:


  • Improving your cardiovascular health

  • Improving your flexibility

  • Increasing your functional strength

  • Protecting your shoulders from injury

  • Preventing lower back injuries

  • Reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis

  • Improving your athletic performance

  • Losing weight


Pushups can also help prepare you with other types of exercise, such as swimming, running, and pull ups. They can also help you prepare for more complicated pushup variations, like diamond pushups.


Before You Go


Now that you know what mistakes to avoid when doing a pushup, it’s time to hit the gym. Perfecting a pushup takes time, so don’t feel bad if it takes you a while to get your form down.


Also, don’t feel like you need to pump out 20 pushups right away. It’s better to do five pushups with good form than 20 pushups with poor form.


If you want more exercising tips, you can check back in with our blog.


Related: Contact Us Today to Learn About Our Pushup Tracking App