7 press up mistakes most people make

7 press up mistakes most people make

Press ups are the most basic exercise we can do. We know they’re good for us, and some of us can do hundreds. But are you doing them properly?

Most people make little mistakes that can hamper progress and cause injuries down the road. Thankfully, these little errors are easy to fix.  So check out the list below and see if you need to fix your press ups.


Raising your buttocks too high shows you’re not engaging your core enough. Fix this by squeezing the cheeks of your glutes together, which will help lift your lower back and lower your butt.


Keep an eye on your chin and jaw (not literally!) If they are too close to your chest during the press up you will put extra pressure on your neck muscles and distort your spine. Imagine you’re holding an imaginary orange between your chin and chest, which may help remind you to maintain the correct position.


Quite simply, you won’t do a good press up if you’re not breathing properly. The key is to make sure you’re inhaling slowly on the way down and exhaling quickly on the way up. Try to make those breaths as natural as possible.


Half a press-up will only get you half-hearted results. If you want to improve your strength you really need to go as low and as high as possible. Aim to get your triceps parallel to the floor when you lower down, and straighten your arms at the top of movement.


If your back looks more like a hammock than a plank you need to add more tension to your press ups. It’s easy to remedy – just engage your core muscles by squeezing your abs and buttocks and maintain that tension throughout the movement. If you find this tricky, do press up variations which are easier, such as with knees on the floor.


Your legs may not be keen to join in the action, but make sure you show them who’s boss! Push the backs of your knees towards the ceiling and heels towards the floor. This will improve your alignment and recruit more muscle power.


If your arms are improperly placed you won’t support your body properly, straining your shoulder joints and making the whole press up harder to perform. Make sure your arms are straight up and down, like a strong pillar, supporting the weight of your body.

Prefer visual instructions? Check out our video demonstration of How to do a Press Up.


And make sure you exercise the rest of your body by keeping up those gym visits!  

The Author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for PayasUgym. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.


Charlie M.
27 November 2017

Charlie M.

all too easily done - I've made these mistakes too. Form really does matter if you don't want a sore neck.

Michael A.
19 November 2017

Michael A.

Yep, I used to do all these at one stage or another, but it's a journey of learning and practicing so I can now do pretty much ideal press ups.

Sean S.
16 November 2017

Sean S.

I definitely breathe out on the way up but do tend to hold my breath on the way down then do a quick inhale at the bottom of the movement for some reason. All the rest I reckon I don't do, so not bad.

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