1. Set up properly
Your hands should be placed directly underneath your shoulders when in a kneeling prone position, with the hands approximately shoulder width distance (not too close or too wide) from each other.
2. Choose the right push up for you
If you cannot complete full depth on a standard push up, you need to modify/regress the exercise to effectively “train” the movement and improve. Performing hundreds of half rep push ups will not improve anything and you will almost certainly develop nagging shoulder pain in the process
3. Improve your relative strength
Basically this means you need to become stronger and lighter. If you are carrying too much weight then bodyweight exercises will be naturally tougher to perform. The best way to achieve this is to add resistance training into your training regime and incorporate a diet that is designed for fat loss.
4. Train your arms
Poor push up performance can be down to a number of factors, one of the biggest issues being arm strength (specifically triceps). Training arms in isolation is a great way to improve your upper body strength overall. The triceps are responsible for the top half of the push up or the “locking out” of each rep.
5. Train your chest
To complete full depth push ups you will need to have strength in chest muscles. Training your chest in isolation with other exercises such as dips or dumbbell flyes can help towards better push up performance. This can be taboo for females but it’s actually a great habit to get into and should not be feared for women wanting to improve upper body strength.
6. Improve core and glute strength
Core stability is crucial for excellent push up technique. One of the common technique flaws of a push up is lumbar extension which is caused by poor core and glute strength. This can be improved by regressing the exercise and focusing on proper recruitment of the hips and activation of the “local” muscles involved (Glute, TVA)
7. Stay tight
If you are trying to become stronger try to think about becoming tighter during exercises. When performing push ups “tighten” or squeeze your muscles during repetitions. This increased body tension will help you achieve better push ups and is a great habit/technique for all strength exercises.
8. Practise them every day
Strength is a skill, How often do you practise it? If the answer is never then you should not expect to get better at strength exercises. Consistent practise of ‘correct’ exercise technique will lead to improved performance in exercises like the push up. Be sure to have your technique down before you start performing dozens of practise reps or this could lead to overuse injuries of the rotator cuff and shoulder and you could be greasing an inefficient movement pattern.