Technique is just as important in a push up as it is in any other exercise. The last time I increased the number of push ups I was doing, I wasn't strong enough and did too many with incorrect form which resulted in elbow pain. I almost started doing that again during this month's push up challenge. Bad habits/form are hard to break! I have to remember to keep my elbows in slightly, not out like a chicken!! See number one below and the fantastic image above!
Here are some common things that might be holding back your push up progress.
1. Watch your elbow angle. Don't let your elbows drift out to a 90 degree angle.
Instead, pull your elbows in, resting them at a 20 or 40 degree angle to create a mechanical angle that allows for greater range and power. Pay close attention that your elbows stay above your wrists during your push-up.
2. Don't ignore the down part of the push up. Don't rush as you lower your body to the floor and don't let gravity take you there. Pretend to dig your hands into the floor by grabbing it with your fingers to activate muscles in your back and help you SLOWLY lower your body.
3. Where are your hands? Hand placement is important during a push up and can change the muscles that are working the hardest. In general, keep your hands in line with your shoulders or just outside of shoulder width. Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides, focusing on your chest and triceps. If your hands are too wide, your elbows will tend to splay out (see #1).
4. Is your neck moving? (It shouldn't) Is your body in a straight line? (It should be) Your head should stay in line with your spine throughout the exercise. If you are moving your head up and/or down (which happens as you get tired) your spine is out of alignment and could cause an injury. Concentrate on keeping your head still and in line with your body. If a broomstick were placed on your back, it should make contact with your head, upper back, and butt. Keep your body in that alignment the entire time.