April 20, 2017

3 Common Push Up Mistakes & How to Correct Them

The push up movement is one that I see many of our members struggle with. It isn’t because they are not capable of doing them.

I think most of the time they struggle because they are not aware of what a proper push up should look like.

We are here to direct you on the right path to doing a shoulder friendly and strong abdominal push up.

Let’s dive into 3 common mistakes that we see our members make when they are trying their push ups.

3 Common Push Up Mistakes & How to Correct Them, Athletes' Training Center

Mistake #1 – Hands too far forward:

With this mistake, people tend to not use their abs or core correctly. This can cause unwanted stress on other muscles and joints.

Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders when starting and finishing your push up. Refer to image (5).

Refer to image (4). Don’t allow your hands to be placed in front of your shoulders.

Mistake #2 – Hips too low:

It is vital to keep your hips level with your shoulders throughout the entire movement including the start and the finish of a push up. Refer to image (5).

If we allow our hips to drop lower than our shoulders as demonstrated in images (3 & 6) we will produce extension in our low back and not using our abdominals to stabilize our body.

Mistake #3 – Elbows pointed out:

One of the most popular flaws is letting the elbows point to the side as can be seen in image (1). As you can see with this poor technique, when one’s elbows point out to the side their head meets their hands at the bottom position.

This is not good. This can present shoulder pain and is a compensation of poor core control during the lowering and raising portion of the push up movement.

We should shoot to have our elbows angle back towards our waist and our shoulders meeting our hands at the bottom position (2).

3 Common Push Up Mistakes & How to Correct Them, Athletes' Training Center

Along with being mindful of these three flaws, a good way to improve your push up ability is to put your hands on a bench or chair.

Once you perform a push up properly on a bench then you can go ahead and move to the floor.

A good repetition range to shoot for is 3 set of 8-15 repetitions. Pictures above is an example of a good push up with proper form.

10 Comments on “3 Common Push Up Mistakes & How to Correct Them

March 16, 2022 at 6:51 am

Hi I’m here to ask a question,if you do the pushup wrong could you still manage to exercise

April 15, 2022 at 12:46 pm

Yes, if you do it wrong you can still exercise. However, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury. Technique is important in ensuring durability so you can continue to exercise at the level you wish. Thanks!

March 4, 2023 at 1:36 am

Is the second pushup shown here right ?

July 24, 2023 at 6:19 pm

Yes, the second image show the proper position of the arms/elbows. Thanks!

March 4, 2023 at 1:38 am

I am 16 and I want to know how many I should in one set and how many sets should I do ????…..i also want to reduce a little bit of my stomach fat do u have any ideas ??..????

July 24, 2023 at 6:24 pm

Great question about sets and reps. The answer really depends on your goals and some other variables like training experience or training phase. It would be important to work with a fitness coach to lay out the best program for your needs. For your question about stomach fat, the answer again depends on many variables, but it’s important to understand training habits and nutrition all factor into this goal. Thanks!

July 22, 2023 at 12:43 pm

We can’t see the hips being too low in image 2

July 24, 2023 at 6:11 pm

Hi, the hips being too low is listed as mistake #2, but is demonstrated in images #3 and #6. Thanks!

September 20, 2023 at 4:59 am

what is the cause of shoulder pain and is it side effect of doin pushups?

September 28, 2023 at 12:14 pm

Yes, repeatedly doing push-ups incorrectly can cause shoulder pain due to the stress and damage that can cause on the shoulder complex. However, there can be many different causes of shoulder pain and it’s always a good idea to see a physical therapist or other health care provider who can evaluate the pain and help you understand the causes and work with you to address the issues.


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