The Perfect Push Up

Lookie what I got!!!

SO excited!! For those of you who may not know, the Healthy Living Summit is a conference for “healthy living” bloggers and readers. For two days, I’ll be joining 200 like-minded folk to listen to presentations and talk about all things food and fitness related. Tickets sold out quickly last night and I’m elated to be able to take part this year!!

I was up later than I should have been last night, then up way earlier than I should be this morning.

My nose and head were all stuffed up while my belly was completely empty. Breakfast needed to be quick and comforting. It was a no-brainer.

And then I ate a cookie.

I dunno, for some reason, an oatmeal-chocolate chip-coconut-maple-raisin cookie seems to make the cut as an acceptable breakfast cookie.

I am majorly impressed by these Super-Charge Me Cookies. I took these photos this morning and there are only two left. The 6 people in this house have successfully demolished them in one day.

After breakfast and breakfast dessert, I immediately preceded to go back to bed. I woke up an hour later feeling much better, although my mom still looked at me and said “Susie, you’re looking a little rough this morning.” Harumph.

A giant mug of strong brewed coffee helped out my situation a lot though.

As well as snacking on multiple Mr. Freezes and a giant medjool date stuffed with almond butter.

These pictures don’t do it justice. I honestly don’t think I will spend the money on medjool dates again because they are just too much for me. One of these bad boys has 16g of sugar crammed into two bites. I think I will stick to my baby dates :)

Lunch was nothing special, a ginormous salad with tuna, hummus, feta and pickled onions.

I seem to be cleaning out my mom’s vegetable crisper every two days. Her boyfriend, Mark, makes a salad every day for lunch. Between the two of us, no fresh veggies stand a chance in this house.

Clearly, today was a rest day from exercise. Sometimes I get really lazy on rest days and do nothing but lay around. Other days I get antsy and feel like I need to be productive. I did get a few things done today – my main project being grooming the poodle.

No fancy poodle cuts here. Archie is incredibly well-behaved, so we just cut him ourselves with a pair of scissors. He politely stood still while I hacked away at his fur.

I thought he might hate me after, but he still jumped up and helped me read blogs ;)

And then I plotted how I could get away with smuggling him to Toronto with me ;)

Dinner featured one of my favourite foods from my vegetarian days – falafel!

I do believe these are Veggie Patch Falafels that my mom bought at Costco.

I ate them on top of a bunch of frozen veggies tossed in garam masala spice. I think I overdid it on the veg. My tummy was ready to bust with brussels sprouts after. I had to roll back to the living room. My family keeps teasing me for the size of my veggie bowls  – and in this case they may have been right :P


The Perfect Push-Up

I got an e-mail from Hallie the other day about proper push-up technique. For being one of the best exercise moves out there, it’s damn tricky!

Having good form is imperative to doing the exercise properly. I know I always nag about having good form, but it’s how you ensure you hit the intended muscles. Bad form means no results. Or worse, pain and injury. This is me pointing my finger at you and giving a stern face.

So what is good push-up form?

  • Your body should make an imaginary straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Make sure your butt isn’t up in the air by tucking your pelvis in and shifting some extra weight back into your toes.
  • Hands are under your shoulders. They should not be up by your face when you come down.
  • Keep you chin tucked in and don’t strain your neck. Remember that straight line!
  • For a regular push up, space your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your elbows around 45 degrees. The main movers here are your pecs. Sticking your hands and elbows out too far to the side will hit your back too much, and tucking them in will engage your triceps more (unless that’s what you want to do)
  • Bring your chest far enough down so that it almost grazes the ground.
  • Practice doing them in a mirror, so you know what that straight line feels like!

The above picture is a tricep push up. You’ll notice her narrow hand grip and how her elbows are tucked in.

Now I know many people (not just women!!!) can’t do the standard push up on their toes. Many of you know the traditional knee push up.

However, I would suggest putting your feet on the floor to support your back and posture more.

Personally, I’m more of a fan of progression into toe push ups by starting on an incline. If you’re a beginner, the wall is a great place to start.

As you get stronger, decrease the incline. I often still do toe push ups off a bench.

When the bench gets too easy, grab a step to push off of.

And before you know it you’ll be cranking out 20 on the floor! ;)

I know some of you are way past the stage of incline push-ups, and there are tons of ways to make them harder. My two favourite ways are putting your feet up on a bench or a stability ball.

And the T push up!

The above pictures are all hyperlinked to their original sources if you want to check them out as well :)


Question of the Day: Push ups – love? Hate? Favourite way to do them? I only just got to the point where I can squeeze out a few on the floor off my toes. I’ve always struggled at supporting my bodyweight with my upper-body, and push ups are torturous for me!!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for what may be the cutest/funniest/most embarrassing Flashback Friday ever. I’ve been holding on to these photos since my mom pulled them out last Sunday, at which point we both starting crying with laughter :P

Posted on May 20, 2010, in Workouts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. I do 30 push ups every day. Standard form. Its pretty much been a year now, and somedays I really could not imagine doing more than 30! Don’t think of me as a wimp!

    • No way! That’s super impressive!!! I tried to do the 100 Push Ups program and dropped out after Week 2. I have a love/hate going on with push ups ;)

  2. I don’t know how you only ate one cookie. :) They look great!

    I cannot do pushups. I have tendinitis in my wrist and it’s tremendously painful. :(

  3. I have to do them on my knees. I have tried doing them from my feet and I can’t even do one!

  4. I suck at push-ups. Really, I hate all exercises that engage my abs, because I find them hard to breathe through and I get all lightheaded. So I skip them.

    Let me know if you need Chicago recs! (Mine probably won’t be the healthiest, but I’m good for sightseeing advice and totally unhealthy Chicago must-eats!)

  5. So many things to note from this post:

    1. I’m SO jealous that you’re getting to go to the healthy living summit, but really happy at teh same time because I know you’ll have AWESOME recap posts!
    2. The only falafel I’ve ever really tried was the Veggie Patch brand and it is delish.
    3. This push-up post was perfectly timed. I’ve been thinking about how I want to be able to do a pushup and now I know exactly how to work my way towards it. See you’re already working as a personal trainer =)

    Nicole G

  6. I’m sooooo jealous you get to go! I really want to go to a blogger conference one of these days. They look like so much fun!

    Love all the form tips. I have a feeling I will be doing bench pushups sooner than I think. My belly will simply be too big eventually. I have a love/hate relationship with pushups. They always challenge me so I hate doing them for the hurt, but love the strength from them.

  7. HATE THEM, but they do the job, so I still do them. :)

  8. Cannot do push ups to save my life. I mean, I give it a good go but I’m pretty sure that my form is 100% wrong…
    Maybe you could also address proper form for plank? That would be one I would love to get right – I’m sure my form there is horrible too because they rarely make me hurt and I don’t exactly have abs of steel!

    • I will dedicate a whole post to the plank next. Like the push up, it deserves one to itself :) My best advice though is to always do them in front of a mirror if you can. A lot of people *think* they’re straight – but their butt is in the air, or their back is arched and sagging. It helps if you shift some of your weight to the back instead of putting it all on your arms. That way your abs have to work harder to keep that position. Hopefully that makes sense!

  9. you never know what surprises costco holds, i wish i could find those falafels at mine!

  10. Hey, I followed your link to the super charged oatmeal raisin cookies, read the recipe and fell in love! I do this thing on my blog called Sweet Friday, where I bake every friday (honestly it helps me cut down on sweets throughout the week). I was hoping it would be okay if I did this recipe either tomorrow or next week? My website is Please let me know if its okay or not okay. Thanks!

  11. Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    Oh man, I wish I was going to the HLS so we could hang out! Every once in awhile I get on a pushup kick. Right now I can maybe do 15 standard form pushups in a row.

  12. chillel williams

    I can’t do a push up to save my life..My arms are so weedy it’s laughable..I figure i’ll be able to do them at some point now that im working on my upper body strength though!..

    Archie is OFFICIALLY my dream dog..
    Im realising what REALLY falling in love feels like now..

  13. For the life of me I can’t do a tricep push up although I can rock other kinds – dive bombers are my fave!!!!

  14. Hey,
    I absolutely hate push ups like most exercises where I work my abs because I just stop breathing! I just cannot do those and still breathe. I always stop in between to catch my breath which makes doing exercises way harder and not really healthy.
    I am currently doing a routine of the series in which you go into a plank position and then down on your forearms and then back up. I can handle those and still breathe which is nice.

    • Yes! I call those “plank ups” although, I think there are several different names for them, they are killer. Strange about the breath thing. I find focusing on my breathing is the only thing that gets me through a plank or push ups…

  15. Ugh, pushups. SO good, but SO bad… I hate doing them, because, like you, I have always struggled with bodyweight upper body exercises. But I try, because I know they are so good for me!


  16. Don’t we all have a love-hate relationship with push-ups? Yes! Love how I feel after…sweat dripping down my face as I do them. I take a Total Conditioning class every (most) Tuesday mornings and it starts out with a warm up and then at least 50 push ups. After runs I usually do about 5 sets of 5 push ups and I alternate between tricep push ups and regular, and sometimes I get crazy and do them with my feet/shins on the ball :)

    Enough of that…let’s talk HLS! So excited, it’s only 3 months away! I think I am going to take full advantage and go Thursday – Monday. I LOVE Chicago – need to find time to shop and see a few friends while I’m there. What are your travel plans?

  17. Yippee on the ticket! I should come and visit you all. It’s about a 4 hour drive from here.

    I LOVE push ups! They are something I used to NEVER be able to do so I feel strong. I like doing them with my feet on a ball.

  18. Archie is such a cutie! Love those pics.

    I’ve been trying to do an arms workout three times a week, which includes 15-20 push ups. I still do them on my knees, though I could do straight leg ones by now.

  19. Archie is SO adorable! Love your ode to pushups. I think pushups are one of the most effective total body strengtheners! I went from being able to do about 5 modified and zero proper form to 20 proper ones in a row. It took around six months- modified sets, then the shred, and then I followed the 100 pushups workout. There is no way I will be able to get to 100 pushups in a row!

  20. I hate push-ups. Due to a accident on a waterslide my hand gives me lots of trouble and it hurts to put it flat on the ground. That and I suck at them in general. I prefer them with my feet on a stability ball.

  21. I love AND hate pushups! lol I did 3 sets of 10 yesterday, felt good.

    I have not had falafel in so long, i love that stuff!

  22. hey i spy my blog and debs blog in your reader! and i love archie so much. and i wish i could go to HLS. do you KNOW how much i want to meet you? and do you realize i can never come to canada? ugh. thanks for all the pushup variations. LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE YOUUUUUUUUUUUU

  23. Love push ups!! In fact, I just put up a silly video of me doing clapping ones! LOL. It took me forever to be able to do them, but I love them because they are such a total body toner that you can do anywhere!

  24. Yay for the HLS! If it had been closer to NY, I would have tried to get tickets but Chicago was out of the question. Next year ;) Can’t wait for the recaps- sounded amazing last year!

    THANK you for the push up info! I do mine in the mirror after my elbows started hurting and I am making a bigger effort to pay attention to form. I did some on a bench with my trainer last week, but usually do floor ones- start on my toes, aim for 10 (3 sets) but usually switch to my knees at some point.

  25. For a big guy(even before putting on too much weight) people always thought I was stronger than I was but I wasn’t. I’ve always had a weak upper body and pushups were always tough for me.

  26. push-ups build usable lean muscle, they build up tendon stregnth all sorts of good stuff, and they do it very fast. After a week or two of consistant push-up training your upper body will simply recover faster from all workouts, including lifting. Lifting however builds inflexible muscle which is mainly just..looking good muscle, unless you do specific excercises (most of which are at full extension with weights) that will produce the same muscle. If your really into lifting weights, if you lift them extremely slow without worrying about the reps, and simply lift slowly until pure muscle failure (sometimes nausiouse, usually hard burning) and push out another rep or two that will work generally the same as calisthenics. Its when these idiots at the gym pump out 100 really quick situps, they probably work out majority of their ass and very little anything else. Genetics will assure they look good.

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