Push ups have been a longtime staple of exercise. Everyone from P.E. teachers to Military Seargents to personal trainers to Shaolin Monks make time for push ups.
One of the best ways to work up to a perfect push up is by practicing the chatarunga in yoga. Chatarunga is a great way to build strength & practice good push up form & technique for a few reasons:
- Yoga unites breath with movement, increasing focus & blood flow during practice
- The slower practice is gentler, but also strengthens the muscles more than quick reps because chatarungas train the “negative” movement
- Yoga prioritizes form over everything, and the chaturanga teaches perfect push-up form (pictured above)
Practice the yoga push up, which is a combination of three movements: downward dog, chatarunga, and upward dog, to gently ease your body into push up training.
The “Yoga” or “Hindu” push up
2) Lower the hips & come into a strong plank. Then bend the elbows to initiate chatarunga and lower your chest to the ground.
3) Push up, coming into upward dog. Roll over the toes and push the hips back to return to downward dog & repeat the sequence.
In it’s ubiquitous popularity, regular push up “technique” has been lost. Take a look at one “Body Sculpt” class and you’ll see all sorts of quasi-push-up-motions masquerading as reps. For example, let’s look at this push-up picture from a stock photo site:
Bad Push Up Signs:
- Fingers point in or out at severe angles (more than 5-10 degrees)
- Elbows flared out to the side
- Back “collapses” down in a sagged curve
- Hands placed wider than your shoulders
Of course there are many variations of push ups, and these variations sometimes use different hand placements. In those cases, these standards may not apply. However, for the traditional push up, the following standards are considered good form.
Good Push Up Standards:
- Place hands directly under the shoulders
- Keep elbows close to the body, don’t let them flare out. This and the above bullet point ensure that your shoulders & elbows are moving like hinges, bending to 90-degrees in a smooth, balanced range of motion
- Keep the body tight in plank position the entire time
- Squeeze the body tight. Your legs, glutes, abs, and shoulder blades should be tense throughout the movement