Where to start?….. people butcher these in so many ways its untrue. Why? Because even though it’s ‘just a push up’ it takes body control and more strength than people give it credit for. Lets take a look:
YOUR HIPS SAG – Possibly the most common error of all. If your hips sag on a Push-Up, it takes the weight out of your chest, it puts your back in a bad position and takes your core out of the equation. It looks lazy, it looks bad, and it's easier than it should be.
The fix – Master the plank, practice so you know where you are, mentally shift and don’t try and do as many reps for a while. Adopt the 'Gymnastic Mindset' and dedicate all you got to learning the posture. You might not be able to claim you can do as many reps, but you will get a better body this way.
YOUR SHOULDERS SHRUG – Anyone with rounded shoulders, forward head posture, and anyone who hasn’t had much practical training – this is going to happen to you. Train yourself out of it before its too late.
The fix: Rehearse the movement standing up. Learn what a long neck feels like and make sure you can hold it throughout.
YOU ROUND YOUR SHOULDERS -- If your shoulders don’t hike up, they will probably want to round. Its a defensive or 'closed position'. Your body will want to go here. The fix is simple, make the chest stretch and feel your shoulder blades squeeze together at the back of the movement.
YOU HIKE YOUR HIPS – Less common, but equally as amusing to watch is the classic hip-hike. Here’s the thing: Push-Ups can be hard. We -- consciously or otherwise -- tend to try and manipulate our body to make them easier. The thing is, we can’t see what we're doing!... Being a push up and all – our eyes are on the floor! So we can go mad – contort our bodies into all sorts of funny positions and then race out as many Push-Up things as we can. You won’t get far like this though – so fix it. The Fix – practice & awareness – use a mirror, film yourself, or get a spotter. More importantly, learn the correct feeling of good posture, then maintain it throughout.
YOU'RE DOING THE WRONG PROGRESSION– If you try and do a Push-Up progression you’re not ready for – as about 70% of people do (in my esteemed opinion) – and you will have bad technique. You can’t fluke this stuff. It will look bad and if you do enough of it, it will hurt you. It will NOT make your muscles look better (compared to using the right level of push up for you) – it will grind your tendons, stress your ligaments, mess with your shoulders and stress your neck. Naughty.
YOUR MINDSET IS WRONG – When I’m training a client, we are not trying to do 100 push ups. We are not taking on some stupid gimmicky challenge, we are using the Push-Up to get strong, to create an effect. With that mindset, we are not kidding ourselves that we are ‘fit’ because we can hit an arbitrary number that is actually a very different challenge for everyone as we all have different structures, weights and issues – we are creating change in our bodies – do it right and you won’t need to boast about how many push ups you can do… your body will do the talking for you.
ON THE TYPEWRITER PROGRESSIONS SPECIFICALLY…
IT GETS ALL SHOULDERY – your thumb should be in contact with your breast plate. At the bottom of the move. Your chest should be push out and exposed to the stress. If you can’t handle that, you might round your shoulder and let your thumb move too high up the chest. Don’t do this. It means you need more strength and more practice!
TWISTY TWISTY – Your body will do everything it can to take the stress out of the chest. Watch out for excess twisting. We may want a subtle rotation to increase the stress on the chest, but you mustn’t twist towards it, and as you travel hand to hand, your torso must be square tot he floor.
PULLING WITH THE SPARE ARM – When you’ve mastered these babies, you’ll have a completely straight ‘spare arm’ as you push back up. I like to get you to use a bent arm at first, but be conscious not to use it too much to assist. Then once you’re good, work towards straight it or removing it to ‘prove’ you’re not using it to cheat.