9 Push-Up Mistakes You Might Be Making (And How to Fix Them)

Doing push-ups is a great way to strengthen your chest, shoulders and triceps, but if you’re doing them wrong, you might be putting yourself at risk for injury. 

But you’ve found the right page.

This blog post will discuss the nine most common mistakes people make when doing push-ups and how to fix them.

Keep reading below!

1. Too Little Range of Motion

While doing a push-up, some people make the mistake of limiting their range of motion. They think that their bodies are working to the max as long as they’re doing the hardest version of a push-up.

However, this could not be further from the truth.

It’s better to do an easier version with proper form and a full range of motion than a harder version with bad form. 

The reason why a full range of motion is so important is that it activates more muscle fibres. And that helps you see better results. 

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Do an easier version of a push-up from your knees or by using a Plyo box to rest your hands.
  • Wear a resistance band slightly higher than your elbows to support your upper body.

2. Uncontrolled Descent and Ascent

mistakes you do during push-ups

When doing push-ups, it’s important to control your descent and ascent. This means moving slowly and in a controlled way rather than letting gravity do the work for you. 

Here’s why uncontrolled movements are not recommended:

  • They can strain your joints and muscles, leading to injury. 
  • They can make it difficult to maintain good form, which limits the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • They can be inefficient; if you’re not controlling your body, you’re not getting the most out of the exercise. 

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Stay focused when doing push-ups (or when you’re generally working out). Keep your mind in the game instead of trying to beat the clock.
  • Use a tempo trainer to help you keep track of the speed at which you should be moving.
  • Use your breath: go down as you inhale deeply and lift throughout one deep exhale.
  • Practice holding the plank position to improve your control.

3. Locking Your Elbows

As any fitness enthusiast knows, proper form is essential for achieving optimal results from your workout. And one of the most important elements of good form is not locking your elbows. 

Here’s why: 

When you lock your elbows, you take the tension off your triceps and put it on your deltoids, which can lead to injury. Additionally, locked elbows reduce the range of motion in your shoulders, making the exercise less effective. 

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the entire push-up.
  • If you find yourself locking your elbows, try doing the exercise with a resistance band. This will help keep your elbows in the proper position.
  • Use a foam roller to massage your triceps and deltoids before and after working out. This will help reduce the dangers of injury.

4. Arching Your Butt Up

People often arch their butts up in the air when doing push-ups. This poor push-up form is a mistake for two reasons. 

First, it puts your back in an unsupported position, leading to pain or injury. 

Second, it shifts the focus of the exercise away from your chest and triceps and places it on your shoulders and elbows. 

As a result, you’re not getting the most out of your push-ups. So next time you’re doing push-ups, keep your butt down. Your lower back will thank you.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Consciously engage your core and glutes before each new push-up to ensure your body is straight from head to toe.
  • Try to do the push-ups near a mirror to check your form.

5. Dipping Your Hips 

When doing a push-up, it’s important to keep your body straight. This position engages the right muscles and helps prevent injuries. 

One common mistake is to dip the hips, which can strain the lower back. In addition, dropping the hips is a bad push-up form, and it can also reduce the number of reps you can do. 

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Keep your core engaged and round your belly button up to your spine.
  • If the standard push-up form is too hard for you, do it from your knees.

6. Arching Your Neck Up or Down

Many people arch their necks up or down when they do push-ups. This poor push-up form strains the neck muscles and leads to injuries. 

The correct way to do a push-up is to keep your head in line with your spine, looking straight down. This position will help you maintain proper alignment and, therefore, prevent neck strain. 

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Imagine a thread going from your hips to your shoulders and neck. Make sure that the neck is elongated instead of bent.
  • Keep your eyes looking down on the floor beneath you. You shouldn’t be able to see in front of you or too far down on your body.

7. Flaring Your Elbows

One of the most common mistakes people make when doing push-ups is flaring their elbows. This mistake puts unnecessary strain on the shoulder joint and can lead to injuries such as rotator cuff tears. 

Furthermore, it reduces the effectiveness of the exercise by preventing the chest muscles from working to their full potential. 

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Bring your elbows closer to your body at a 45-degree angle.
  • To avoid shrugging your shoulders forward during the push-ups, consciously pull your shoulders back and down before starting each push-up.

8. Pushing Through Pain

push-ups mistakes

One of the most common mistakes people make when working out is pushing through pain. It’s important to listen to your body and know when to stop. 

Otherwise, you risk injury.

There are two types of pain: good pain and bad pain. Good pain comes from working your muscles hard and is a sign that you’re getting stronger. Bad pain, on the other hand, comes from an injury.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Learn to tell the difference. Good pain is a dull ache that goes away when you rest. Bad pain is sharp and persists even when you’re not working out.
  • If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and stop working out.

9. Not Pushing Yourself Hard Enough

The final mistake on this list is not pushing yourself hard enough. Many people think they can’t do a harder push-up variation because of their innate biases about their fitness level. Other times, you can tune out and go through the motions without consciously focusing on your moves.

Or, you become comfortable with one routine and don’t try to find new push-up variations or exercises to scale up your effort.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Make sure that your push-ups are challenging for you. If they’re not, try harder versions like pike push-ups, decline push-ups, or clapping push-ups.
  • Keep track of the number of push-ups you can do in a session, and try to beat your previous score.

Push-ups are a great way to get strong, but only if you do them correctly. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to better push-up form in no time.

John Claxton

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