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Tactical Fitness with Stew Smith: Proper Pushup Posture

Stew Smith: Proper Pushup Posture

Dear Stew:

Could you give me some tips for proper pushups? I will be leaving for AF BMT sometime in the next couple of months, and I want to achieve the Warhawk PT standard.

I can't seem to do pushups correctly; my back always has a slight curve, especially near my shoulder blades. I'm really skinny, and I don't know if that contributes to my posture or not. No matter what I do, the pushups that I do don't look correct if I look at 'correct' pushups on the web.


I put my hands directly underneath my shoulders so that my hands are nearly incline with my shoulders, slightly to the outside, and to where my arms form a slight V. I've stretched my body as straight as possible, I'm 6'1", but my back still has a curve that doesn't look right. I've done a few that look 'good' but I can never replicate the technique.

It is a great goal to want to achieve WarHawk standards, and thanks for choosing to serve! Too many people set their goal as the minimum fitness standards, and that can come back to haunt them later in BMT. But, it does sound like you are doing the correct placement of your hands for pushups. I would venture to say it is more of a muscle imbalance in your upper or lower back. 

One program you need to add to your routine four to five days a week is the Lower Back Plan. It works the abdominal muscles, lower, and upper back in a 10 to 15 minute circuit. Some of the exercises that will help you the most are the following: plank pose, reverse pushups, and birds.

 Stew Smith, plank pose
 Stew Smith, revpushup
 Stew Smith, bird pose

These specific exercises will strengthen your upper and lower back safely, and after a few weeks or a month, you will see a difference in your pushups.  Any time you do pushups, you should balance your upper body with these exercises and add pull-ups for more push-to-pull balance.

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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