Push Up – Proper Execution and Tutorial

The topic today is Push Up Tutorial.  Push Up have many variations.  Mainly targeting:  Chest, Front Shoulder, Triceps.  Different variations, different target muscles.  Today, we will just focus not he basic one.


Let’s take a look on the form.  Chest out, Depress & Protract the shoulder, tighten core.  Ensure your body is a straight line, upper and lower body should be synchronised.


Let’s take a look on each part.



#1 Shoulder Position

Pressing exercises like Push Up can easily hurt your shoulder when your shoulder is not protracted & retracted, particularly Internally Rotated which can easily impinge your shoulder.  There are some notes here:

  • Did you shrugged?
  • Your shoulder too forward?
  • Elbow too high?


The possible ways should be:  Shoulder Protracted, Retracted, Chest Out.  The angle between your arm & body should not be larger than 90° .  Otherwise, Internal Rotation will appear and ruin your shoulder easily.  So what angle should we use?

  • Smaller:  Close-grip Push Up.  Closer Grip will target more Triceps
  • Larger: Wide-grip Push Up.  Wider will target more Chest.



But after all, we should focus more on how we feel.  which angle is suitable for your chest and comfortability.  As long as it doesn’t exceed 90°, that will be fine.  But each one has different flexibility, so there is not perfect angle for everybody.  The best angle is that one you find it for yourself, in which you can exert force with comfort and feel the Chest.


If you want to focus more on the Chest.  Take these cues:

1) Retract 2) Protract 3) Chest Out.

This will help for you to press with your Chest.  Just like doing Bench Press.  If you want harder version, Try the one I mentioned in previous Push Up video.


Some may ask:  Should we protracted throughout the execution, or we can protract at the top?


I think there are two versions for that

  1. A) Retracted ALL the time. Just like Bench Press.
  2. B) Retracted at the bottom, but not the top.


Both have supporter online.  The former one (A) focuses more on Chest.  The Latter one with protraction will use some Serratus Anterior.  Both are okay.  There is not right/wrong.


Besides, how low should we do?  Typically, around 90° is good enough.  As below 90°, your front shoulder might feel very stretched.  This could do more harm than good.


#2 Core

Lower back should be contracted slightly.  Upper body & Lower body should form a straight line.  If your hip is too high or too low, then it is not a good form.


Actually, there are two variations for your core.

  1. A) tighten lower back.  Your hip still look a bit high.
  2. B) tighten abs.   Your hip look flat.


In the Internet, some claim one is correct while the other one is wrong.  But I just think that they are just two different variations, nothing wrong about that.  Personally, I prefer variation A, which is basically the form of Bench Press, targeting more on our Chest.  Of course, you can do in-between version, neutral spinal position.


Just tighten up your leg and make them straight.  Chin tuck.  This is it, the basic form.


Common Mistakes

Now take a look at the incorrect forms.  There are many and I will show you some.

  • The most common one is: Hip too high/low.
  • Elbow too flared out/high/internally rotated.
  • Didn’t retracted shoulder, tighten up core nor chest out. etc.
  • Half range of motion,
  • And a lot more.

Once you learn the proper form, you should be able to tell the difference.



If you can’t do one single rep, how to learn to do it?  The easier method will be doing the easier progression.  Aka. Incline & knee push up.

Knee push up is easier.  Incline Push Up will depends on the inclination level.

  • Body vertical: easier.
  • Body horizontal: harder.

You can find a high object to lean on (quite vertical),  then slowly decrease the height (more horizontal).  The lower you get, the harder the exercise will be.  When you can manage to do 10+ reps for the progression, you can move to next progression.  Eventually a proper push up version.



Once you mastered the basic Push Up, you can try different variations.  The simplest variation will be different inclination level.  Incline Push Up is easy.

Decline Push Up will be harder.

  • Incline:  Lower Chest.
  • Decline: Upper Chest.


Another variation will be different grip width.

  • Wide: more Chest.
  • Narrow:  more Triceps.

You can try Diamond Push Up.


There are tons of Push Up variations, and we will not discuss now.  Maybe later.


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