Tip: Do This to Make Push-Ups More Effective

Use the arrow formation. Your head and hands should form an arrow shape, not a T shape.

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The push-up is underrated in the strength and conditioning world. Why? Because too many people do it wrong. They often set up with their hand position high and wide. If you took a snapshot from above, their set-up would look like the letter T. People do this to make the exercise easier. Why is this position easier?

  • The alignment of the pec fibers is better suited to produce force from this position.
  • This position requires less muscle activation (as measured by EMG) in the pecs and the triceps.
  • Shoulder horizontal abduction flexibility is limited, so the structures limiting flexibility will contribute much needed passive force in the bottom position.

"Easier" is not what we want though. Instead of setting up in the T position, set up in the "arrow formation."

Push-Up Set-Up
Push-Up Set-Up

This means if you took a snapshot from the aerial view, the push-ups position would look like an arrow. Tuck your elbows in to about 45 degrees. Your head should be forward of your hands. This position is easier on the shoulder joint and leads to higher EMG activation of the pecs and triceps.

Bret Contreras is considered by many to be the world’s foremost expert on glute training. He has turbo-charged the fitness industry by introducing effective new exercises and training methods for optimal glute development. Follow Bret Contreras on Twitter