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Best Push-up Tip – Immediately Increase Your Push-up Volume

Best Push-up Tip

Immediately Increase Your Push-up Volume

You would be very surprised to know that even though push-ups are a very remedial exercise, most people perform them incorrectly.  In fact, push-ups are a very technical movement and there  are many tips that can help anyone perform push-ups better and more efficiently. And if you can master your push-up form, you will be able to not only build more muscle for your chest and triceps, you will be able to remain injury free while you begin to overload the horizontal pressing movement with dumbbells and a barbell.

When young athletes or new clients come into my program, the push-up is one of our body weight assessment indicators.

What do we look for when they perform push-ups?

Push-up Assessment

Issue 1:  Are the hips sagging or moving side to side?

Potential Problem:  Could be a core stabilization, tension or technique problem.

Issue 2:  Does their upper back collapse?

Potential Problem:   Upper back weakness, tension issue or technique problem.

Issue 3:  Is there head looking up?

Potential Problem:  Probably just a technique flaw.

Issue 4:  Do they favor one side or the other, i.e. don’t move in a straight up/down pattern?

Potential Problem:  Might be a shoulder issue, flexibility / mobility or technique issue.

Issue 5:  Are their elbows flaring out?

Potential Problem:  Might be a shoulder issue, flexibility / mobility or technique issue.

How to Correct the Bad Movement Pattern?

Step 1: Instruct client to perform the movement with no direction.  Do not give them any tips or cues, just have them do the exercise how they normally would do it.

Step 2: Give them feedback, show them what they did wrong and then show them the right way to perform the movement.

Step 3: Have them perform the movement again.

Step 4: Repeat Step 2 and remember that you will continue repeating Step 2 as long as this client trains in your program.  The assessment never ends and it is your job to continue to ensure they  perform exercises the right way. 

Awesome Push-up Tip

One of the tips I use is to engage the lats during the movement.

Creating tension in the lats and “pulling” yourself down, instead of just relaxing, will fix the majority of issues with the push-up.  It is a very simple coaching cue, but very effective.  You will see stability, volume (sets x reps) and strength immediately increase.  It is just a very useful cue.

Check out the video and try it out. I would love to hear your feedback!

Drop a comment below and share the link on your Facebook!

By on January 24th, 2011


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Comments (15)

  1. Posted by - John Cortese on January 24, 2011

    GREAT Tip Smitty! I just tried this myself and felt an immediate difference!! I’ve never thought about that, I definitely coach stability and tension to my athletes as I’ve learned from you as well, but this will for sure help with their pressing strength, endurance, and stability.

    Thanks again!!

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 24, 2011

      Awesome John, thanks for checking in!

  2. Posted by - Erik on January 24, 2011

    Is there any reason why you don´t lock out your elbows in the pushups? Anyway good tip on the lats.


    • Posted by - Smitty on January 24, 2011

      Erik, it might seem that way with my right arm. I have some bone chips in my elbow that prevents full lockout. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Posted by - Travis on January 25, 2011


    You da man bro!

    Thanks for the great tip!

    This is SO key! It’s just like with other BIG lifts, the body must be tense for more effectiveness.

    People over look this SOOO much and when they tweak their movements, even just a little bit by adding tension in other muscles, the pay off is HUGE!

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!


  4. Posted by - Woody on January 25, 2011

    Nice will use the new technique this evening. Good timing as I’m going strictly bodyweight exercises for the next 4 weeks! Let the experiment begin!

  5. Posted by - Dale on January 26, 2011

    Benching today will try and make sure the lats are nice and tense.
    Great tip as usual.

  6. Posted by - Adam on January 27, 2011

    Awesome tip and important info Smitty. That’s why we always love having you as a guest on the blog! 🙂

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 28, 2011

      Thanks Adam!

  7. Posted by - Cory on January 28, 2011


    Great tip as usual. I notice an IMMEDIATE difference in my clients, and they can feel it too. It’s drastically improved pushup form, which is something I’m always extra particular about.



  8. Posted by - Ant on January 29, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge,it is inspiring.

  9. Posted by - Chris on January 31, 2011

    Taught my lady these tips and sh instantly increased her push ups from 5 sets of 3 reps to 7 sets of 5 reps.

  10. Posted by - Taitofu on January 30, 2012

    This is from experience. I do flared out pushups all the time. I use to bench guillotine, about 85% body weight, and switched to body weight exercises. I’ve never had any problems with rotator cuff muscles. And squeezing the lats has more with pulling your shoulders back, rather than tucking in the elbows. Which is why wide grip pull ups, work the lats better. I guess we should tuck in the elbows now? It’s not just this guy, or this site. It’s how many people give advice for something so simple and obvious as the pushup. Some people like to relax, and explode, more plyometrics involved. It’s the core that’s the issue in his example. Kind of like how people with degrees, and designations claim upright shoulder rows are bad for you. If it works for you, keep doing it. Take the average male who watches a lot of TV, sit infront of the computer, and most likely, it’ll be true. I wish people would use the subjective part of their brain more. We need more intelligence!

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