Common Exercise Mistake and the Fix: The Push Up

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

               So you made it to the gym, banged out a well-developed program and are now on the road to recovery and adaptation. On your way home you realize that although you just completed an upper body day, your low back starts to ache a bit and your shoulders pinch as you turn the steering wheel.

                After making it home you sit down for a high quality post training meal. Taking your time to eat, you think back on the day and recap what you did to improve your life and what you can do next. You jot down a few notes before pushing yourself out of your chair. And then it happens…your low back locks up and you crash to the floor.

“Damn it, not again!” you spew with disgust.

As the spasm relaxes you think to yourself, “Why does this happen to me? I train hard and perform all of the exercises the experts say are best.”

And you are not wrong!! The problem is that if you are only training hard, even if the exercises have been proven to be the most effective exercises to help you reach your goals, it is imperative that you train hard and SMART. And what does smart training mean?

I agree here, but without smart work, working harder is pointless!

Smart training occurs when your program is developed and implemented in a fashion to help you achieve your goals (if you don’t know how to do this there are experts that can help), AND, you fully understand how to perform the exercises correctly and where you should be feeling the exercises work.

For this reason I am going to provide you with a series of videos describing common exercises, the mistakes I often see with how they are performed and how to correct those mistakes. The video below is all about the push up and there is a quick bulleted summary below.

Enjoy, and share it with your friends and family because they too will often perform the exercises wrong placing them at a greater risk for injury, keeping them from achieving their goals…so don’t be selfish. Keep an eye out for the next video.



Common Mistakes and Fixes for the Push Up

–          Hips sag or twist and back arches in top position. To fix, engage the core.

–          You simply “fall to the floor.” To fix, actively pull yourself into the push up by bringing your shoulder blades together on the decent.

–          Hips sag or twist and back arches on decent. To fix, keep core engaged throughout.

–          Your elbows go behind the body at the bottom of the push up, forcing an anterior tilt of the shoulder blade (not good). Stop when the elbows are in line with the body.

–          Hips sag or twist, back arches on the push back up. To fix, keep core engaged as you push back up and don’t allow the chest to lead you out of the bottom of the push up.

–          You don’t finish all the way through and shoulder blades pop off the back to finish. To fix, fill out the gap between the shoulder blades at the top of the push up.

–          Your neck over extends or your head drops. To fix, keep the chin tucked and eyes down to keep the neck in a neutral position.

–          ***You should feel the push up working the core, chest, shoulders and upper back! You should not feel the push up working the low back or discomfort in the shoulders.

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