One of the greatest mistakes is flaring of the elbows to wide open position with arms at 70 to 90 degrees. This is an open invitation for acute and chronic injury of your joints and muscles. Although many trainers recommend the 45 degrees angle, which is some improvement from the 90 degrees angle, it is still not ideal.
The ideal posture would have your scapulae fully retracted and rotated towards the spine. To achieve this, the elbow should move much closer to the torso, taking up a 10 to 20 degrees angle.
Positioning of Shoulders
The proper elbow positioning also allows better positioning of the shoulders. When you retract and depress the shoulders, rotating at the same time you scapulae towards the spine, you make your chest go out.
This improves the interaction between the scapula and the humerus, and the shoulder movement.
One of the most frequently overlooked aspects of the push-up is feet positioning. On the other hand it is one of the most important ones when it comes to proper execution technique.
It is crucial that you stand on your toes as much as you can. Ideally, the balls of the feet should not make contact with the floor. The toes should support most of the weight.
During the push-up your feet should be almost at right angle with the floor. Experimenting with foot positioning and making micro adjustments before, during and after the reps, can help you in ensuring an ideal orientation of your body.
Point the fingers straight ahead. It allows better centering of the shoulder, as it retracts the scapulae instead of pushing them up. It also provides support for the elbows allowing us to tuck them in, and promote lat recruitment. The role of the hands in push-ups is similar to the role of feet in squats.
Depth and Range of Motion
A proper push-up should take your body hovering only millimeters above the floor. Of course, this makes the exercise much more challenging, but at the same time it triggers hypertrophy.
Due to its rotational nature, the greatest portion of the movement is done by the upper chest and the head. So, when you are at the bottom of the movement, only the upper part of your body is allowed to make any contact with the floor. Avoid contacting the floor with the lower chest, the stomach, hips or knees. In fact, when performed properly not even the upper part of the body should touch the floor. The mechanics of the movement, and the fact the most of the joints a locked in creating stable structure put your body in an awkward position making it impossible to go all the way to the floor.
The Ring Test
If you want to check your true form and strength, you can do the ring test. Perform the pushups on rings to see how many you can do. Compare that number with the maximum number of standard pushups you do. If it’s below 80% of the standard push-ups count, than you should check your form. Chances are that you’ve been performing the standard push-ups with improper form.