Multi-time CrossFit Games athlete and coach Meg Reardon knows a thing or two about push-up form. She sees way too many people make these three common push-up mistakes in her CrossFit classes, and she’s not afraid to call people out on them! She takes BarBend Founder and Editor David Tao through the three biggest push-up form mistakes and how to fix them.
Push-Up Mistake 1: The Elbow Flare-Out
Keep your elbows from flaring away from your body to avoid the dreaded elbow flare-out! If your elbows flare out too far in a push-up, it can put your shoulders in a compromised position and cause discomfort (or exacerbate tightness/injury). You don’t need to have your elbows rubbing RIGHT up against your torso — some often say a 45 degree angle is correct — but you almost certainly don’t want them positioned at a 90 degree or greater angle relative to your midsection.
Keeping the hands angled slightly out as opposed to turned inward can be an effect cue here. You can also think about pressing the elbows back.
Keeping the elbows closer to the body allows for better engagement of the chest and upper back, allowing for stronger, more comfortable, and safer reps.
[Try these great push-up variations to mix up your training!]
Push-Up Mistake 2: Losing the Core
One great thing about push-ups? Training core stability through the midline! If you have trouble keeping a tight core and midline in this movement, think about pressing up with the hips and keeping everything moving in one line.
If your legs or hips are touching the ground before the chest, it could be a sign of losing a nice, straight midline during a push-up. Having a friend or training partner watch your form can be especially helpful in identifying if you’re suffering from this mistake.
Push-Up Mistake 3: Bro Reps
NO ONE wants to be guilty of doing bro reps! It’s one of the most easily avoidable mistakes in the gym, but it’s also the MOST COMMON mistake coaches like Meg see. Lock your elbows out FULLY at the top of each rep, and make sure the chest goes ALL THE WAY to the ground at the bottom of each rep.
Bro reps are avoidable, and friends don’t let friends practice bro reps. You’ve been warned, fitness enthusiasts!