Breakdown of the Perfect Pushup


The pushup is one of the best exercises you can do for total body strengthening. Though it may appear to be an isolated upper body exercise it requires the participation of the entire body to be performed properly.

Hand positioning varies based on the specific muscles being targeted, which makes this movement so versatile, but in a standard pushup stance the hands will be set shoulder-width apart or a little wider depending on your body and ability.

The chest will be drawn forward between the hands while the body is held in a straight line during execution of the pushup. Here are my 5 Expert Tips to help you master your perfect pushup:

  1. Engage Your Quads – tighten the front of the thighs so much that you feel buoyant. This is the best tip I can give you that you won’t hear from other experts; it helps create an energetic bridge across the pelvic girdle that unites the body in one line of coordinated energy and eliminates sagging hips.
  2. Create a Neutral Pelvis – curl the tailbone down toward the heels just enough to lengthen the lower back and pull the lower abdomen in. This, along with pressing navel to the spine, solidifies that safety net needed to avoid arching the lower back.
  3. Lengthen from Head to Toe – simultaneously press the heels back as you lengthen the chest and crown of the head forward. This simple shift in energy supports tips one and two leading to buoyancy, connection, and proper alignment.
  4. Become a Statue – Resist dipping, lifting, turning or doing anything other than holding your chin steady with your eyes fixed ever-so-slightly forward — now freeze!
  5. Use Your Breath to Your Advantage – the breath is mighty powerful when used appropriately. Take a sip of air on the way down, hold the breath for the split second transition from lowering down to pressing up where the pressure is the greatest. Then exhale forcefully through pursed lips to power yourself all the way back up.

Perfect Push Up

While the pushup targets muscles of the chest, shoulders, trunk, and triceps you will also be feeling this exercise in your quads, and even through your back and along your spine as you hold the proper alignment and engagement during each repetition making this a total body experience!

In Love & Gratitude,

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Missi Holt

Further Reading:

Pushup Challenge

Breakdown of the Proper Lunge

Sphinx Pushup

Missi Holt

Missi Holt is the fitness and nutrition editor for Early to Rise. She is a master nutrition therapist, certified yoga trainer, Certified Turbulence Trainer and an NSCA certified personal trainer (CPT). She also provides fitness and nutrition therapy through her own organization, Whole Life Health.