Ben Emanuel II

Common beginner mistakes with pushups and how to correct your technique.

Push-ups are one of the most commonly performed exercises. Everyone is theoretically aware of this exercise and what it looks like. But, in practical, people make various mistakes that can lead to pain and potential injury in the years to come. However, if you pay a little attention to the details, it isn’t that hard to deal with this deceptively easy exercise.


Before you jump into knowing the right method of doing push-ups, it is a must that you know the common mistakes. This will help you to avoid them.

  1. Improper Elbow Mechanics:

The most common mistake that many people make while doing push-ups is that they extend their elbows to the sides, while doing this exercis

  • Puts excessive pressure on your shoulders
  • Reduces the tension from your triceps and chest.

The longer the lever arm, the less leverage you get. Flaring the arms at a 90 degree angle puts you at a mechanical disadvantage. While this is a very easy mistake, correcting it is even easier.


Ideally, the elbows should be in a 35 to 45 degree angle with your body. As it shortens the lever arm, it will give you more pushing force, while reducing the stress from your shoulders and joints. Thus, the muscles will work better and you will get better leverage.

2.  Improper Spine and Hip Alignment:

The spine and hip alignment plays as important a role in push-ups, as the elbow position. Most people make the mistake of dropping their torso and abdomen towards the ground. This increases the tension in the leg tendons. The spine too is often curved and this will nullify the entire exercising benefit.

The correct method:

This mistake can easily be fixed by slightly tightening your hip by squeezing it in towards the abdomen. This will reduce the tension from the legs.

Fixing the mistake of spine alignment is also easy. Just straighten it, so that it is horizontally straight and parallel to the ground.

  1. Quantity over Quality – Not Having Full Range of Motion:

Many people, who mistake the proper methods of push-ups, think that they are doing it well by doing the push-ups numerous times in a single go. However, the fact is that proper push-ups are not easy 

and it takes time to perfect it and that is the point – doing the exercise regularly is a must in order to succeed. Cheating with the techniques means doing it half-right and this will only yield half-benefits of the exercise. Doing many push-ups in a single go is not the goal. Doing it right is the goal.

The correct method:

If you take care of the elbow, hip and spine position seriously, it will help you increase the health of the wrist and shoulders. The proper techniques will help you with your full range of motion. You will be able to –

  • Touch the nose to the ground
  • Nearly touch your chest to the floor.

Once you have been able to do this, while taking care of the elbow position, the hip and shoulder position, you have managed to do one good quality push-up and that is what matters.


Proper push-up position helps in a number of ways.

  • It increases the vitality and strength of the muscles
  • Protects the shoulder muscles from injury
  • Prevents lower back injury
  • Improves posture

Push-ups involve almost every major muscle in the body and doing it correctly will award you many benefits towards your overall fitness.

Breathing Tips for Push-ups:

The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that breathing properly while exercising plays a huge role in achieving the proper goals of this exercise. While you are doing push-ups, make sure that you breathe through your mouth, rather than breathe through your nose.

While you are pushing the floor, you need to inhale fully and while you are coming down to the floor, you need to exhale out.

Tips you need to keep in Mind:

While you have learned about the breathing methods and what a good quality push-up looks like, it is also important that you know that you should not leave a push-up halfway in the middle. This means that you need to go all the way down until your chest touches the floor.

As it is also said that the nose too should touch the floor, it is not the nose but the chest that should touch the floor at first. This means that you must keep your head aligned straight with the spine and not droop it down like chicken head to touch the floor before the chest does so.

Beginners’ Guide for Push-up Reps:

What is the right amount of push-up reps is a question that everyone wants to know. Well, it will increase gradually with practice and perfection. However, beginners need to aim at doing 10 to 15 reps and do this for 2 sets. If you are doing variations of push-ups, do them for a 8 to 12 reps and for 2 sets in the beginning.

But of course, your body will tell you how much you can handle. If you can’t handle this, do less. There is no need to push yourself and injure your muscles.

Once you get adjusted with these numbers of reps and sets, you can increase your push-ups as much as 75 to 300 in a single day, only if you can handle.

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