Those who have done enough push-ups for an army of people know this much; it's without a doubt one of the best possible upper body exercises. The thing is, the act of getting face to face with the ground and pushing yourself up describes something too vague for them to not get creative with their form. Push-ups done with perfect form will not only exercise your chest and triceps, it will help your back development, biceps, shoulders (significantly), abdominals and even your butt.
Remember, it is always better to do 3 reps with perfect form than 8 with bad form. If you want to get better and stronger, keep pushing yourself and never sacrifice on form. You will thank yourself for it.
Know Where to Start
Before exercise of any kind, it is important to warm up effectively and stretch. An ideal warm up for a full body or serious strength training should get your heart rate elevated and your entire body warm. Warm muscles are more easily and effectively stretched. Stretched muscles allow for full development and better looking muscle.
Note: Before trying to do push-ups or any other strenuous activity, it is important to check with a physician if you are of advanced age and/or have serious health problems. Those who are the cautious type might want to ask the doc anyway.
No More Elbows Out
Your shoulder serves as the connection between your arms and your upper chest and back. Strong people always have both those areas strong. They've also got strong shoulders.
Rather than keeping your elbows out at a 90 degree angle, position your hands closer to your body. What does close mean? The best possible suggestion we can offer is to lie face down with your chest touching the ground. Spread your fingers and place them beside your chest on each side. Your thumbs should come near your armpits. Your hands should be either facing straight ahead or slightly outwards. This will encourage your shoulders inwards.
You should look something like this as you push up.
The key is to not let your elbow trail out further from your body than your hands. You also don't want your elbows too close to your body, as this will reduce the strength and leverage through your arms.
Chest and Back
Now that your hands are in the right place, you have to prepare your back and chest. Your shoulder blades should be flexed, this means that your shoulder blades are close together. This type of upper back position will strengthen your entire upper body. It keeps your shoulders in a strong position, elbows in and chest in a full range of motion.
You Are Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link
Your forearms, hands and wrists are most likely the weakest part of your upper body. If you flex every muscle as hard as you can, you make your entire body stronger. You will be pushing yourself up with your hands, so they should be as strong a platform as possible.
In order to have the rest of your body in the correct position, your feet should either be side by side or out slightly. They should not be further that shoulder width apart. Your leg position will help your core and lower back. You can make your push-ups significantly better if your flex your butt and keep your back straight. This will keep strain off your lower back in into your abs.
Flex Those Abs
It is important to flex your abs as hard as you can throughout your push-up. This will keep your body in the perfect position.
You should be looking either directly downwards or about one foot on the floor in front of you. This will keep your neck in the proper position.
Proper breathing is essential to all strength training. Inhaling deeply and exhaling while moving through the hardest part of the movement gives your body the best chance with each rep. Practice proper breathing, it can aid in your push-up rhythm when you get good.
Get Better Every Time
The most beautiful thing about push-ups, is that they can make every person stronger and give them a great workout. If you have trouble with a regular push-up, try it from your knees. If you have a tough time doing more than 1 or 2 with correct form, keep working at it. Everyone starts somewhere, it's where you end that counts for everything.