Avoid the Seven Biggest Push Up Mistakes!

Seven Deadly Push Up Sins!

by Colin McGarty


I LOVE push ups!

My love affair with pushups began in the military where they are a staple exercise and measured during fitness tests. They are perfect for the military because you can do them anywhere, anytime. No equipment needed. The can be modified to train for strength, power or strength endurance.

Every Army Infantry “HOO-AH” school begins with a fitness test involving pushups. 48 is the MINIMUM number you need to squeeze by. Do less and you are cut from school.

The worst feeling in the world is hearing,

“47. 47. 47. 47. 47…”

Try doing your 48th push up about 20 times because the Cadre decides your form sucks, or they just want to play “f*ck-f*&k” games with you.

Avoid doing your 48th push up multiple times, by making every rep beautiful!



Here’s the seven biggest push up mistakes:

Mistake 1: Your head hangs low!

If you can see your feet because your head is drooping down, your pushups are wrong!

Keep your spine neutral. Look three feet in front of your body while keeping your head neutral or in slight extension.

DON’T LOOK DOWN or at your toes!

Think of  lightly KISSING the ground with your forehead in the bottom position.

Mistake 2: You have wings!


Look at your upper back. If you have “scapular wings” you are setting yourself up for injury! It means the muscles in your back are not strong enough to keep your shoulders in an optimal position for push ups.

Regress your push up, by elevating your hands until your wings are gone. Go to a hands on the wall push up if necessary.

Shoulders should be pull down and back, lats engaged and scapula retracted.

Mistake 3: You flare your elbows too much!

Avoid impingement issues and keep your elbows at about a 45 degree angle from your body. Or less.

If you have chicken wings and your elbows are lined up with your ears on the push up it’s only a matter of time before you injure your shoulder.

Mistake 4: You look like superman, flying!

If your hands are placed way out in front of your body, under your head, etc you are asking for shoulder issues!

Try dropping your knuckles under your shoulders and remember to keep the elbows in to maximize the benefit of your pushups.

Mistake 5: Your booty is in the air!

Drop it down!

The pushups is fundamentally a plank. So engage your core.

Keep your lumbar spine neutral.

Tighten your glutes and push back on your heels.

Mistake 6: Your hips hit the ground first.

Se Mistake 3 above.

Pick your butt up!

Engage your core and and squeeze your cheeks!!! This will protect your lower back.

Keep your lumbar spine in a neutral position.

Mistake 7: You are doing Half Reps!

You can do 178 “Cheater McHalf-rep” pushups in a row.

Stop kidding yourself. You are doing half reps.

Don’t be a cheater!

At a minimum your chest should come about a fist length from the ground and on top your arms should lock out!  Even better touch your chest to the ground every single time and lock out.  There can be a time and place for reducing the range of motion; however most of the time you need to perform full range of motion exercises to get the most benefit.



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