Two Cues to Instantly Improve Your Push Up

by Rob Colameta


Whether you’re personal training, in TRAC class, circuit training, or even at outdoor sports conditioning, you’re guaranteed to run into the pushup. I’ve seen a lot of different people do the pushup and have found myself using the same two cues to help people get the most out of this popular and really effective strength exercise.

#1 Reach

Most people finish their pushups like this:


In reality, that’s not too bad. Note that his hips are in-line with his shoulders, he’s not arching his back, and it looks like he’s holding a solid plank at the top. However, he’s missing out on some serious shoulder benefits by not reaching his hands through the ground.

If he thinks about “reaching” at the top of the pushup, you’ll see his shoulder blades come around to the sides of his torso, like so:


It’s a subtle change but very easy to correct and guarantees you the awesome shoulder benefits that come along with doing the pushup correctly.

#2: Use Your Whole Body

Most people realize that a squat, deadlift, or kettlebell swing are whole body movements. Everything needs to be working together to do any of those correctly. The pushup is no different. Most often, I see people set up for the pushup with an arched back, excessive forward head posture, and abs that are completely relaxed, which looks like this:


We need to think of the pushup as a whole body exercise. Before you start the movement, remember to brace your abs, flatten your back and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. It’s as simple as thinking about doing a plank. Doing this turns what most people think of as just a chest exercise into a whole body movement- and an efficient one at that.


These two cues work no matter what variation you’re doing. You should be reaching at the top and using your whole body if you’re doing pushups from the floor, on an incline, or if you’re doing eccentric pushups.


I hope this helps!


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