Jillian Michaels

January 8, 2018

The Perfect Pushup

The pushup is a classic functional exercise with a variety of benefits. It’s great for your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and even quads and lats when done right. You work many different muscle groups simultaneously with one move making it incredibly efficient and effective. 

That said, so many of you have told me you struggle with the perfect pushup and that the classic “drop and gimme 20” is a lifelong goal.  Well, the time has come, team. I’m gonna teach you exactly how to do the perfect pushup, AND do 20 in a row.

Where most people go wrong right off the bat is proper form. 

First, lay on your tummy, flat on the ground. 

Start with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart alongside your chest, thumbs in line with the armpits. Note: Your hands should not be above your shoulders!

Come up into the top of a pushup from this hand position.

Your foot position can vary, but the wider your feet are the more balanced you will be. So for beginners, I often recommend starting with your feet hip width apart to increase your stability.

Keep a straight line from your feet all the way to the crown of your head. Spine straight. Eyes looking down and slightly forward, as though you were drawing a triangle between your hands and your gaze.

Engage your core by tucking your tailbone and squeezing your booty as though your bum cheeks were going to swallow up your leggings. Draw your belly button in towards your spine without rounding your back. Make sure you hips don’t sag or pike up into the air. Both can stress your back and shoulders unnecessarily.

Now hinge slightly forward as you inhale and lower your body down towards the ground, attempting to keep your elbow over your wrist. Contrary to popular belief, the pushup is about going forward more than up and down. It’s this forward motion that puts your arms into proper alignment to protect your shoulders and engage your lats as well.

Drop until your arms are in a 90-degree angle (if you have more strength you can lower until your chest taps the ground, but this is for advanced athletes primarily as it can stress the shoulder). Make sure to keep your elbows back instead of winging out to your side.

Exhale and press back up to the start position by engaging all the aforementioned muscles, chest, triceps, shoulders, core, lats, and quads.

Ta da! You have just performed the perfect pushup. Now, if you have trouble doing this let’s troubleshoot it.

If the pushup bothers your wrist, then perform the moves on a mat on your fists to avoid any strain.

If the resistance is too great, then perform elevated pushups and slowly work your way into pushups with hands on the ground. So start in exact same position, but with hands on the back of a sofa. Then after a couple of weeks drop hands a bit lower, say on to a coffee table. Then after a couple more weeks place hands on another lower platform like a reebok step. And after that you should be ready for the big show…Hands on the ground!

If you find you are getting exhausted half way through and it’s compromising your form - Maybe your body is starting to look like a banana instead of a board? - less is more. I’d rather you do 5 amazing pushups than 10 crappy ones. You will increase your reps with consistency.

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