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How to Do the Perfect Push-Up in 4 Steps


Push-ups can do one of two things:

1. Help you build upper-body strength and muscle (good).
2. Screw up your shoulders and posture (bad).

It all depends on how you do them.

Here's how to tell the difference between a good push-up and a bad push-up and how to quickly fix your form to get the biggest benefits.

What NOT to Do: 4 Ways to Screw Up a Push-Up
Bad push-ups all look the same. Are you making any of these mistakes?

1. Your butt lifts high in the air.
This is often because of tight hips and weak butt muscles.

2. You over-arch your lower back.
Which leads to a "slinky" effect often caused by an unstable spine.

3. You flare your elbows too wide.
This usually happens when you have weak upper back muscles that can't activate.

4. Your head droops.
In the video below, it shows a few different ways to mess up a push-up:

A good push-up doesn't have any of that stuff going on. Instead it looks like this:

1. Elbows tucked into a 45-degree angle from the body.

2. Butt clenched tight and hips flat and level.

3. Hips, torso, neck and head all in a straight line.

4. Abs tightly squeezed throughout the entire movement.

Here's how to do the perfect push-up every time:


Drop down right now and bang out 10 reps, following the steps above. (Fair warning: It may be harder than you think.)

– Nate

Readers — Did you think doing a “perfect” push-up was hard? How is your push-up form? Have you been doing push-ups wrong this whole time? Leave us a comment below and let us know how many perfect push-ups you can do!


Nate Green is the program director of Scrawny To Brawny. He’s been featured in The LA Times, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and lots of other places with fancy names. He’s also written two books, "Built For Show," and "The Hero Handbook," and helped provide research for Tim Ferriss’ bestselling book, "The Four Hour Body," and co-authored Dr. John Berardi’s "My Experiments with Intermittent Fasting."

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