Push and pull. In life, we are constantly going through these two motions. As far as fitness is concerned, the same rules apply. Today, we are deconstructing the pushup in order to achieve perfect form.
For perfect pushup form, there are three steps. We start with a basic plank. Hold yourself in plank position, on your forearms and toes. Your elbows are aligned directly underneath your shoulders, and your hips are held and maintained at the same height as your head. Engage your glutes, thighs and stomach. The trick is, work to hold these three parts “ON” as you breathe for three rounds of 60 seconds. Your muscles will want to flip “OFF” with each exhale. Maintain engagement throughout your inhales and exhales.
Step two to achieving perfect pushup form is mastering the “row.” Grab a resistance band and hook it around anything stable enough to withstand you pulling on it, finding equal tension in each side of the band. Facing toward your point of attachment, set your feet at shoulder width and begin with your elbows extended. Execute the “row”/pull motion by drawing your elbows back as far as you can (at belly button height) while simultaneously activating the muscles in your back and core. Make sure you’re not overcompensating with your biceps or deltoids here… so if it means slowing down the tempo of your rows in order to achieve true activation of the muscles in your back, then do it.
Step three to achieving perfect form is doing the pushup itself. We start with a perfect knee pushup – hands aligned directly underneath the shoulders, creating a “diamond” shape with your hands by very slightly turning out the fingers. Your hips are tucked forward and your core is engaged. Inhale as you lower your hips and chest to the floor while keeping your elbows close to the side of your body. Exhale and push all the way back to straight elbows. If this version is too easy, do the same thing on your feet instead of your knees.
The trick is to not forget the components of steps one and two. In step one we focused on core stability, in step two we focused on back strength. These two elements are vital for a proper pushup, so here’s your cue – as you inhale and lower down into your pushup, work to engage your core and back. Then as your exhale, you will push through your palms and back to the top. By engaging your back and core strength into your downward pushup, you will spare your deltoids from burning out prematurely, and will be able develop increased total body strength.
So the next time you drop and give 20, remember that the “pull” is just as important as the “push” in achieving the perfect pushup.
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