Signs You’re Doing it Wrong
1 Your hips are sagging – keep your mid-section tight.
2 You’re sticking your butt in the air – your core needs strengthening. Start with an assisted push-up.
3 You’re not completing a rep – when you push up, make sure your arms are fully extended, then lower them to 90 degrees.
4 You’re not breathing – find a rhythm.
5 Your arms are too wide – keep them in line with your shoulders to prevent injury.
Do it Right!
So push-ups are all about arm strength, right? Think again. “A push-up engages you from top to toe,” says Cape Town-based physiotherapist Jenny Kirkwood. And that includes muscles you probably never expected would get any love: side glutes, shoulder blades and chest. And, says Kirkwood, it’s okay to do the “with-knees” push-up – for a while, that is. “With an assisted push-up, the centre of gravity and lever length – the mass being pushed up and down – have changed, allowing a novice to master the control needed,” she explains.
Start with either an assisted or wall push-up – and take your time to master it. “It takes muscles about six weeks to adapt to exercise if they’re training correctly on a daily basis,” says Kirkwood. Start with three sets of 10, but vary your speed and depth to keep your muscles guessing. Once you can get through 10 reps or more, it’s time to ditch the training wheels. Standard push-ups activate your core and back muscles, creating a full-body workout, says Blake Boggenpoel, an associate lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape. Plus if you’re, ahem, pressed for time, doing them will tone you up fast. Now drop and give us 20!
Learn The Lingo: the wall push-up
Stand on your toes facing a wall, slightly further than arm’s length away, with hands flat against the wall in line with your shoulders. Bend your elbows as you lean towards the wall, keeping your body straight. Push back to start. That’s one rep.