by Geoff Rand

During my time in the Army, I became intimately familiar with the push up.  Move too slow, push ups.  Uniform not perfect, push ups.  This continued into the police academy.  Forgot a call clearance, push ups.  Shoes not shined, push ups…   It’s easy to see why this isn’t one of my favorite exercises.  It was always being done as a punishment.  On top of that, I never was showed how to really do them until coming to CrossFit.

To make your pushups better and easier, you need to concentrate on three areas, elbow position, hand position, and tight core.

Pretend you are going to shove someone across the room Elaine Benes-style (Seinfeld, anyone?).  Really, try it.  I guarantee your elbows aren’t going to be straight out to your sides.  It is much more natural and effective to keep your elbows down at about a 45 degree angle.  This is the same position your pushups should be done in.

For hand position, point your middle finger at the 12 o’clock position and spread your fingers wide.  Next rotate your hands outward slightly, screwing them into the floor.  This will help engage the lats and give your pushups a bit of a boost.  It also helps keep your elbows in the proper position.

Finally, keep those abs engaged.  This makes sure your back is being kept stabilized and moves as one unit with the rest of your body.  No wet noodles.  A slight curvature in the back is ok as long as you keep your abs tight to stabilize it.  You can also hold a yoga block between your thighs if you need a cue to stay tight.

Remember to focus on these areas when doing pushups.  With enough practice, the next time you get dropped for someone showing up to formation late, you’ll be able to crank out your punishment reps with ease.