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View Full Version : Elbows in vs elbows out pushups



Raja
Aug 03, 2010, 04:55 AM
I've noticed in oapu training that my shoulder seems less stressed when I do the pushups elbows in. Elbows in is also reccomended by military folks. Anyone know if there is a difference in muscles worked between the two? Also, which is better?

FthaGym
Aug 03, 2010, 06:49 AM
I've noticed in oapu training that my shoulder seems less stressed when I do the pushups elbows in. Elbows in is also reccomended by military folks. Anyone know if there is a difference in muscles worked between the two? Also, which is better?

It definitely puts some added pressure on the triceps, but when you flare your elbows it leaves the shoulders stretched and vulnerable and could cause injury. I had done PU with my elbows out for years, but I also had shoulder issues as well. I have made many corrections in my form for all exercises, and the shoulder pain is gone.
As far as the muscles worked, both pushups work the same muscles but I believe it takes more tricep and elbow strength when the arms are kept in. Personally, I won't flare my elbows again. Keeping them tight to the body allows me to fire the lats, focus on pressing up with my shoulders (without fear of injury) and pecs. But to each his own, whatever feels more comfortable for you.

phlex
Aug 03, 2010, 06:55 AM
Elbows in! My yoga teacher told me that it protected the scapular belt and the neck. Elbows out, one of the 3 shoulder's muscles work less and the pressure is reported on the omopoatas, then on the neck. On The long term, this will tighten the neck and give neck pain (that I unfortunaltly already experimented) Second this will tighten the muscle in the back of the shoulder wich will hurt the acromion.

Journeyman
Aug 03, 2010, 06:59 AM
I can only do pushups elbows-in, if I flare my elbows I get terrible pains in my left shoulder usually.
It's always been like this but recently I was able to bang out a few wide grip PUs without pain, I think all the overhead work might be reinforcing the little shoulder joint there.

Kenny1927
Aug 03, 2010, 07:25 AM
I was actually wondering that myself. When i was Thai Boxing we were told to keep our elbows tucked in, but when i was boxing i was told to keep them out and also in my Royal Marines Fitness book it says to keep them in. Elbows in definatly incorporates the triceps alot more, but does it still work the chest the same as with elbows out??

capoeirista13
Aug 03, 2010, 09:59 AM
I always used to do pushups w/ elbows out, but like it has been stated it resulted in shoulder pain. Just do them elbows in.

Josh T.
Aug 03, 2010, 11:48 AM
Elbows out works the chest more, whereas elbows in works the triceps a lot more. As far as doing OAPUs, elbows in is definitely a LOT harder than elbows out. When I first started doing them I could only do them with the elbow out. Now I can crank quite a few out with my elbow in...I think elbow in builds more strength but that's just my take on it personally. I don't know anything about it injuring the shoulder or anything like that though

GeoZim
Aug 03, 2010, 08:56 PM
When the elbows are flared out the front deltoids work alot harder and provide power. Generaly people who develope shoulder pain do not "pack" the shoulders and they are kind of loose, also when I watch them their form is off in that the head hangs and the low back sags. The elbows in school is better for keeping a hollow body position as in gymnastics training and is therefore safer.

Sophielia
Aug 03, 2010, 10:54 PM
When I do pushups, my elbows flare out somewhat, maybe at a 45 degree angle, probably less. Similar to the moving image on this site http://hundredpushups.com/what.html Is this dangerous? I find keeping my elbows straight back and totally in very hard.

GeoZim, what do you mean by "pack" the shoulder?

Raja
Aug 04, 2010, 05:07 AM
Kenny- From what I remember the elbows in for muay thai served to protect ribs from kicks and anchors the punches in to deliver better power.

I asked this question since in my Wing Chun class we always strike with our elbows in.

Seems the consensus is on elbows in. I'll continue oapu training and oac training with elbows in.

Kenny1927
Aug 04, 2010, 12:11 PM
I've just finished doing my BW workout and decided to give the elbows in thing a try. Doesn't feel like i've worked my chest atall :?

Parth
Aug 04, 2010, 12:13 PM
Great responses here. Everyone is right. Safest way is elbows in, with pushup handles. Doing them in pushup handles will not only give you a deeper pushup, but also protect your wrists.

petersante
Aug 04, 2010, 02:57 PM
My sifu says elbows in for ving tsun cross training. Simply because this position will work some of the same muscles that are involved with the punch. Especially hands right next to each other. Although the way I've been taught to train my kung fu is to relax the upper body as much as possible and let the strength and power come from the hips (horse). A devastating punch is developed from this training. My sifu also says some strength work is good as long as you do not skip out on the kung fu training. I personally love both:razz:. Just my two cents, your sifu will help guide your way. Hope your training (ving tsun and strength) are going well Raja.

itlives
Aug 04, 2010, 03:10 PM
My sifu says elbows in for ving tsun cross training. Simply because this position will work some of the same muscles that are involved with the punch. Especially hands right next to each other. Although the way I've been taught to train my kung fu is to relax the upper body as much as possible and let the strength and power come from the hips (horse). A devastating punch is developed from this training. My sifu also says some strength work is good as long as you do not skip out on the kung fu training. I personally love both:razz:. Just my two cents, your sifu will help guide your way. Hope your training (ving tsun and strength) are going well Raja.
I was taught the same thing. My teacher stressed dropping the shoulders. (Same as your teacher saying relax the upper body.)
Great thread, I'm sending it to several people I know with shoulder issues.

mikeO
Aug 05, 2010, 01:14 PM
with my hands in a narrow position, i can barely do a pushup at all when keeping my elbows in. i have, so far, usually opted to use a wider placement of my hands which, by default, keep the elbows in. am i losing something, or even risking injury by using a wide placement of my hands?

itlives
Aug 05, 2010, 01:54 PM
It would seem that if you're prone to shoulder injuries or have had them before, you would want to keep the elbows closer in.
If not, don't worry, but be wary of any developing hurts. The best we can do is learn our bodies.
I do all kinds of push -ups. Don't do the same thing everyday. There's too many modifications of any exercise to "get stuck".

FthaGym
Aug 06, 2010, 08:48 PM
with my hands in a narrow position, i can barely do a pushup at all when keeping my elbows in. i have, so far, usually opted to use a wider placement of my hands which, by default, keep the elbows in. am i losing something, or even risking injury by using a wide placement of my hands?

Keep them in but do the PUs on your knees. start pumping out sets of 30 or 40 and you'll be ready in no time. Keep at it, good luck

Raja
Aug 14, 2010, 09:49 PM
Thanks all! As itlives mentioned, I have had a shoulder injury before so I'm a bit concerned.

onelasttime
Aug 14, 2010, 10:14 PM
Elbows in is safer but when I first learned to do push-up's and learned to bench I was learning from body builders so I learned them with flared elbow's. I am one of the lucky guys that has never had shoulder issues from benching elbows out and push-ups elbows out. I teach kids to do them elbows in because I know they are safer but I have to say that if you are having issues change if not I am not so sure they are all that bad.

I think the reason I do not have issues is because I have always maintained tension in my shoulders when I lift. I am not a fast and lose lifter. I learned before high school that tension would protect my joints from injury so probably starting in 8th grade I taught myself to hold a fairly high level of tension in my joints when I was lifting. I had some injuries that where mild from lifting fast and lose and could see that something had to be done. That is when I learned to use bracing or what Pavel calls High Tension Techniques.

squat_gnome
May 17, 2012, 01:25 PM
I'm the misfit here. When I do them elbows in, I get elbow pain, but flaring elbows is fine with me.