Case Study: Is This Good Technique?

Is this good pushups technique?

What’s not to love about this photo? An athletic woman enjoying herself doing pushups in paradise. We’re big fans of doing pushups every day. It’s not a training program when it’s a way of life!

Let’s spend a few moments on her technique…

She Has Good Alignment

Her legs, butt and top of her head are nicely aligned. Place a plank of wood on top of her and all three of these points would make contact. Good stuff.

If anything, we’d recommend going just a couple of inches less deep into the pushup so that she can rotate her head a bit further towards the ground. Her nose would then kiss the ground instead of her chin. That way, her upper spine achieves neutral.

This is what you are aiming for with the head:

Pushups with a neutral upper spine

If you imagine him standing, he’s looking straight forwards at a wall. Pushups should emulate a standing position with good posture. This is what is meant by neutral spine… putting your spine into the position it was designed for.

She has a weak vertical forearm position

Compare the angle of their forearms. Hers angle back towards her butt. His points straight upwards to the sky. Neither technique is ‘wrong’, but his position is a much more powerful one. Vertical forearms provide the most mechanical leverage, and allows a more balanced recruitment of muscles between the chest, triceps and upper back. Strive for this in your standard pushup.

Forearms angled back is a weaker movement, with most of the work being done by the triceps. Great if you are trying to isolate the triceps, but too much of this will limit overall progress.

Her arms are tucked into her body

She nails this, her arms are nicely tucked into the body, rather than the inferior alternative to sticking them out like wings. Strive for arrows instead of T’s.

Butt sticking out?

This is the main area for improvement. She’s got the Kim Kardashian look, a prominent butt with a lot of curvature in the lower back.

Let’s be honest, it looks awesome. It makes for a great photo, which is why you will see this position a LOT in magazines. But it is not optimal pushup technique.

Strive for the anti-Kim Kardashian look. Tuck the butt in and flatten out that lower back as much as possible. Along with your legs, butt and head, your lower back should also touch that hypothetical plank of wood placed on top of you.

You have to work hard to maintain that position. But by doing so, you transform the effectiveness of the exercise. It is the single most important thing to focus on when it comes to pushup technique.


She demonstrates good technique, though we would have her work on a more vertical forearm position and a more tucked butt.

Some of the basics have been covered here, but we’ve only just scratched the surface. Don’t stop now! We’ve worked hard creating a comprehensive guide to pushup technique, it is well worth a read…

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