There are 3 main reasons why we make press-up mistakes:
We don’t know how to do it – no one taught us
We want to do a lot of them – a lot for some people can be 10; we try to do a lot of them regardless of HOW we do them
We get tired and we lose technique without realizing – having no one next to us to correct leads to even more mistakes
Practicing and repeating press-ups with incorrect technique can lead to:
Muscle strain – particularly the neck, lower back and shoulder blades
Lower back pain
When you lose technique, further repetitions are useless and you are wasting time and energy.
Common press-up mistakes (you will also see them and explained in the video below):
Head hanging – straining neck muscles. You should focus your attention on a point just in front of your hands. Not just your eyes but the whole head.
Sinking into the shoulders – for beginners in particular, this is sinking into the shoulders to give the impression the body is lowering. Shoulders must be stabilized and the press-up is done by bending the elbows to lower the body.
Elbows to the side – places unwanted stress on the joint and can lead to overuse injury. Although this makes it more difficult learn how to do press-ups with elbows going back, brushing the sides of the body.
Hips sinking below the chest – lower back pain and the abdominal muscles are not working. Hips should follow the chest. When the chest stops the hips stop as well. Hips never go lower than the chest. We do that because, again, we have the impression we go lower in the press-up.
Hips too high – core is not working. This is a pressup variation, forming an “A” shape. But for classic press-ups the hips have to follow the chest. However, if you are unsure it is better to have your hips higher than lower. Hips higher – core not working, while Hips lower – over arching back and lower back pain. Better the first, if you are unsure.
Correct these press-up mistakes and you will train and strengthen your whole upper body. The more correct you do them, even just a few at a time, the more effective they are.
And here is the video I promised, jump at minute 2:48 for press-ups mistakes:
Doing a full press-up is very, very achievable but not as easy some think. You just try it a few times and expect to go from not being able to bend your elbows to a correct full press-up
There are many muscles involved in doing a correct full press-up. Because there are so many muscles involved, for a beginner, until those muscles strengthen, it takes a while. That is why it is important to have patience and practice, if you want to do a full press-up in the end.
These are roughly the main muscles press ups work. There are also the oblique muscles (side of the abdomen), lower and upper back muscles. The whole mid section of your body need to work to keep you in the right position.
So you see, it cannot happen over night. Work and consistency needs to be put into it. So I have put together a video with how I managed my full press-ups and how I helped my clients who really wanted to do this. Hope it’s good enough to help you as well.