Push-Ups Can Kill You

No, seriously they can!

Don’t believe me?…

Well, when you do push-ups correctly they can develop a tight armored plated looking chest that makes you feel like you can withstand a swarm of bullets from a bank robbery.

Then, because of your perfectly sculpted chest, you go test that theory, and well… you can guess the outcome.

I love the push-up and in fact, it’s one of the most common exercises that we spend teaching our clients here before we begin loading them up with barbells and dumbbells.

If you have trouble handling your bodyweight, then handling barbells may be too difficult.

When we get a new client here at RTC, we come across an array of issues that can cause individuals not to be able to complete a proper push up (men you’re not excluded from this category as well) and I wanted to touch base on the three most common push-up mistakes we see.

Common Push-up Problems

1. Hips Dropping

This is usually one of the most common problems when clients first come in to do push-ups. What tends to happen is that they are not tightening their entire body (mostly the glutes and abs) and they lose the proper body alignment to execute this exercise.


The Fix:

What we do here at RTC is just get our ol’ trusty pvc pipe out and get people to focus on proper spinal alignment. When they are forced to make three points of contact (back of head, upper back, and tail bone) with the pvc pipe on their backs then their body will auto-correct the issue of sagging hips by tightening up the glutes and the abs.

First, start with a front plank and work your way up to 1 min; when you can do that then begin holding a push up position for up to 1 min.

I can assure you that if you can hold a proper push-up position for at least 45sec, you’ll notice that when you drop down to execute the movement your hips will stay nice and tight.

Plank 2-3 sets for 20sec to 1min 3-4 times a week,

2. Hanging from the back

This is another common problem that we see and it’s one of those that you will see people looking at the upper back thinking, “Well… they ARE doing a push-up but something doesn’t look right”.  Typically its because the person does NOT have their shoulders blades against the rib cage.

Instead, the proximal end of the blade (part of the shoulder blade closest to the spine) is tiled upward and what you will find is that in this position the person is just “hanging” by their rhomboids.


The Fix:

Scap Push-ups or Lying Dumbbell Protractions (see video) 2-3 set for 8-12 reps 3 times a week.

3. Hand Placement

By far this is the MOST common mistake that we come across when correcting push up patterns.

What we see most often is that individuals will have their hands TOO far out in front of their chest, in some cases as far as their forehead; so when they try to execute a push up their elbows flare out and they’ll feel a ton of stress from their front delts and NOTHING in the chest or triceps.


The Fix:

Pretend that your hands are holding a bar and you’re going to lower your mid to lower chest down to the bar, that will correct hand placement immediately.


Do me a favor… when you master the push-up and begin developing that chiseled plated looking chest, DON’T go off thinking your Superman and test out the bullet theory.


In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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