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How to Build Up to a Pain-Free, Perfect Push-Up

07.2.2018 | Forge Performance

How to Build Up to a Pain-Free, Perfect Push-Up

Push-ups are undoubtedly the king of upper body exercises. They’re more applicable to a wider range of people, and are a better full body training tool than similar exercises. While push-ups are included in various fitness programs, few people know how to perform them correctly. There’s a specific way to perform the push-up in order to get them most out of them. In this article, we’ll show you:

  1. How to assess weaknesses in your push-up
  2. What exercises you should do to improve your push-up
  3. How to perform a perfect push-up

Weak Core or Weak Upper Body?


To determine our weakness for the push-up, we’re going to perform a test known as the Trunk Stability Push-Up. This drill will assess whether our limiting factor is in our core strength or upper body strength. For 90% of people, even for more advanced individuals, the weakness is in the core. Watch the video below to see how to perform the test for both Men and Women.

Trunk Stability Push-Up Assessment

How to Improve My Weakness

Mobility Drill

Our go-to mobility drill is the Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch. When our hip flexors are tight, it negates our ability to engage our core properly. Perform this exercise daily for 1-2 sets of 5 cycles of breathing. Check out the video below to see how it’s done.

Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Static Stability Drill

We highly recommend following your Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch up with Plank variations. Doing so will help “hit save” on improving the movement pattern, and create stability where it is most needed. Perform 2 sets of planks before moving on into your workout.

High Plank/Plank

Dynamic Stability Drill

The best way to get better at a movement is to practice a regressed version of it. We advocate using the Elevated Push-Up as it mimics the exact movement we are trying to improve. Other exercises like kneeling push-ups do not properly engage the core, which is usually the biggest weakness.

Elevated Push-Up

How to Perform a Perfect Push-Up

Performing a perfect push-up comes down to having the mobility and stability to keep the body aligned. That being said, there are 3 cues we use that really help people put themselves in the right position. When performing complex movements such as this, it’s best to think about the least amount of cues possible. Here are our 3:

  1. Make the body as long as possible. Think about stretching the head and feet away from each other in a straight line.
  2. Lift your head and chest away from the bar. Think about having a dirty diaper in your face. Don’t lift your chin, just pull the head back.
  3. Break at the elbows, pulling them down toward the hips, and back. Think about trying to bend your elbows as much as possible without having your shoulder blades collapse.

Check out the video below where we show you how to perform all of these parts.

Perfect Push-Up

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