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BuiltLean is a fitness resource for busy professionals who want to get lean and stay lean with time-efficient workouts and practical nutrition advice. We provide free, medically-reviewed articles and videos accessed by over 1 million visitors a month alongside a fitness program used by customers in over 90 countries. BuiltLean was founded by NYC-based fitness expert Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT.

Entries by BuiltLean

3 Tips to Master Push-Up Form

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 8:38 AM

By Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT

A few years ago I published a video on Youtube on How to Do a Push-Up, which has since attracted over 500k+ views.

When I watch this video now, I wish I included just three tips that I've since learned. My clients are able to use nearly perfect push-up form almost immediately after learning these tips.

Tip #1 -- Practice Air Push-Ups


The air-push up is a brilliant tip that I learned from Brett Jones of StrongFirst to help you feel proper push-up form without actually doing a push up.

While standing straight, extend your arms in front of you so that the top of your palm is in line with the top of your shoulder. Pull your hands back toward your chest, then push out forward again.

You'll notice that your elbows are staying closer to your sides where they belong to help generate maximum power. One of the most common push-up mistakes is flaring out the elbows out instead of keeping them closer to your sides.

As you practice air-push ups, you are using perfect push-up form. You're just standing up.

Tip #2 -- Push-Up = Moving Plank


When you perform a push-up, the only parts of your body that should be moving are your arms. Everything else should be stiff as a board like a plank. Some very common push-up mistakes include the head and neck moving up and down, or the hips and torso moving as the push-up is being completed.

Ideally, your head, neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet should be roughly in one line that is completely straight and does not change. The push up when done properly is a very strong position that can help improve your core strength and stability.

Tip #3 -- Lock Your Shoulders Down


Keeping your shoulders down away from your ears can help protect your shoulder joint and yield the greatest strength output. There is a common tendency for people to shrug their shoulders toward their ears when completing a push-up.

So how do you ensure your shoulders are locked down properly and your lat (latissimus dorsi) muscles are contracted?

If you think about pulling the floor toward you as you lower down to the ground and twist your hands outward, it will help engage the lat muscles to stabilize your shoulder. The push-up is a full body exercise, not a chest exercise!

When your lat muscle underneath your shoulder is contracted, it immediately pulls your shoulder back and down away from your ears, which makes your very mobile shoulder much more stable. I want to thank Chris McGrath of Movement First for this tip.

A few more tips to help you refine your form:

1) Breathe in through your nose as you lower down, than forcefully out through your mouth on the way up.

2) Squeeze your glutes and draw your rib cage down to help flatten your lower back so it does not excessively arch.

3) Take about two seconds to lower, than about one second to push up. It's not a race; feel the exercise and stay stiff with high tension.

Finally, depending on your shoulder mobility, you may need to stop half way down instead of descending so far so that your chest nearly touches the floor. If your shoulders start rounding forward as you descend, stop right before that point.

After applying these tips, you may notice a proper push-up is harder than what you may have done in the past and also more effective.

Give these tips a try and let us know what you think!

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10 Fitness Resolution Ideas For 2015

(1) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 4:42 PM

Source: Istockphoto

By Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT

As the New Year begins, millions of people create the goal, "I want to lose X pounds this year." From my observation, weight loss goals are surprisingly ineffective for sustaining exercise motivation over the long...

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Top 7 Most Addictive Unhealthy Foods

(2) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 5:25 PM

By Caroline Young

Unhealthy Foods

Whether it's on a giant billboard, in a cheesy commercial, or filling a glossy page of a magazine, unhealthy temptation surrounds us every day.

Typically, frequently-advertised foods are the very ones we crave: foods high in ingredients...

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5 Benefits Of Eating More Fiber

(5) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 8:37 AM


By Charlie Seltzer, M.D.

Because the health benefits of fiber are so widespread, it's one of the most talked about nutrients.

Dietary fiber is comprised of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by humans, as well as lignin, which is a...

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Is Diet Soda Healthy or Harmful?

(39) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 8:44 AM

By Charlie Seltzer, M.D.

Diet Soda

Diet soda has gotten a lot of press over the past several years, most of it not so great. It has been associated with weight gain and other negative health parameters. But does diet...

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31 Benefits of Exercise Supported by Research

(3) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 7:47 AM

By Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT

Benefits Of Exercise

Most people know exercise is good for them, but do you know just how good?

Being in shape is not just about looking good at the beach or being able to lift the heaviest...

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10 Inspiring Quotes to Reach Your 2014 Fitness Goals

(1) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 7:25 AM

By Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT

While losing body fat and reshaping your body is challenging, feeding your mind positive thoughts can make the challenge much more manageable.

That's why I compiled this list of inspiring quotes, which can help propel you to success in 2014. I hope you enjoy them.

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Is Grass-Fed Beef Worth the Extra Money?

(37) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 4:53 PM

By William Lagakos, Ph.D.

Grass-Fed Beef

Among meat-eaters, there is often a debate over which meat is the healthiest. And for those of us who eat beef, the debate continues over whether or not grass-fed is worth it. It often costs anywhere...

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7 Most Common Genetically Modified Foods

(232) Comments | Posted December 3, 2013 | 7:38 AM

By Caroline Young

Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified material sounds a little bit like science fiction territory, but in reality, much of what we eat on a daily basis is a genetically modified organism (GMO). Whether or not these modified...

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How to Eat Healthy for Under $6 a Day

(259) Comments | Posted November 21, 2013 | 8:03 AM

How To Eat Healthy

By Nate Morrow

Is good nutrition developing a bad reputation based on outrageous costs?

A number of recent studies have demonstrated the increasing cost of fresh, nutritious food. Conventional wisdom suggests that this cost can keep you from...

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Low-Calorie French Fries Recipe

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 9:34 AM

By Jessica Zack, HHC

Low Calorie French Fries Recipe

There's something about a batch of classic French fries that's always tempting, especially for anyone who is trying to stay lean. We know French fries are typically bathed in unhealthy fats and doused in salt, making...

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7 Shocking Facts About Food Industry Marketing You Should Know

(8) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 3:21 PM

By Nate Morrow

food industry marketing

Have you noticed how many packaged foods are good for you these days?

Strolling through the lanes of my local supermarket, it struck me that we are inundated with products claiming to be healthy in some...

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5 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 5:42 PM

By Caroline Young

During the crisp autumn months, pumpkins pop up everywhere -- on our porches, in shop windows, and at the local farmers market. They are part of the gourd family, along with cucumbers, honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe, and zucchini. Pumpkins were originally called "gros melons" by...

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7 Best Foods to Buy Organic

(261) Comments | Posted October 11, 2013 | 8:30 AM

foods to buy organic

By Caroline Young

While it may seem like the organic food movement became popular over the past two decades, it is actually a much older concept. Everyone ate organic fruits and veggies before World War II, because all crops...

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Best Full-Body Stretch Before You Work Out

(4) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 4:28 PM

By Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT

Dynamic stretching is a phenomenal way to warm up your body before exercise. Unlike stretching in place, which may not warm up your body effectively and may decrease explosive power and strength, dynamic stretching takes the body through stretches in motion that can help improve your muscular power and performance and range of motion.

So what is the best dynamic stretch you should always do before any workout? There is no best stretch for everyone, but the following stretch is particularly effective. Ideally, this dynamic stretch will be one of a handful you go through as part of your warm up routine. As with trying any new exercise, be careful and consider the supervision of an exercise professional.

Here are some of the benefits you may get with just this one stretch:

  • Engage your core
  • Stretch your hamstrings and calves
  • Stretch your hips
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Prepare your body for the workout ahead

The following are instructions to perform this stretch with proper form and technique:

Step 1: Push Up Position

The first part of the exercise starts off in the push up position. Your shoulders should be positioned away from your ears, with your back and hips flat, core and abs engaged. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

dynamic stretching exercise

Step 2: Step Your Left Foot Up To Your Left Hand

The next step is to bring your left foot up to your left hand without raising your hips. You will feel a great stretch in your groin and also your hip flexor on the right side. If you have tight hips, it may be difficult to bring your left foot all the way up to your left hand, you may only get half way. That's okay! Be sure to sink into the stretch, meaning your left elbow should sink down toward your left heel so you feel an intense hip and groin stretch.

dynamic stretching exercise 1

Step 3: Point Your Left Arm To The Sky

Next, you take your left arm and open up while keeping it straight and point your hand toward the sky. This creates a great rotational movement that helps open up your shoulders. If you are busy professional with an office job, you more than likely have rounded shoulders. This stretch also engages and loosens up the upper back and core.

dynamic stretching exercise 2

Step 4: Back To Push Up Position

Return back to the starting push up position.

2013-10-04-dynamic stretching exercise 3

Step 5: Downward Dog, Then Repeat With Other Side

The last step is to push your hips backward and up toward the sky like you would in a downward dog yoga pose. You will feel a great stretch in your hamstrings, calves, and it's also engaging your shoulders as well. Your shoulders are prone to injury because they have a large range of motion, so it's really important to warm them up. After this step, you go back to the push up position and repeat with your right arm and leg.

dynamic stretching exercise 4

This is a great stretch you can do before your workouts, whether you are doing a cardio workout, a strength circuits workout, going for a jog, or playing a sport. I hope you enjoy it.

More From BuiltLean:

For more articles and videos, visit BuiltLean, or join the conversation at our Facebook...

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10 Inspiring Quotes for Exercise Motivation This Fall

(16) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 8:18 AM

By Nate Morrow

As fall approaches, many of us may find ourselves struggling to stay motivated to exercise as the weather gets colder. Luckily, it's a great time for fresh starts and new goals to get healthy; whether you're a seasoned gym veteran or just beginning your fitness journey, a...

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