Push Up and Bench Elbow Positioning

Elbow Positioning Demo Video:



Elbow positioning can dictate a lot during the push-up or bench press. Most individuals will flare their elbows out which is known as the “elbow out” position. This position is great to build size in the chest muscles but is a weaker position. This causes overloading in the joint, which increases the chance for injury. This position can cause injuries such as shoulder impingements and imbalances. Over time this position can lead to a protracted shoulder girdle.

Elbow out position

  • Commonly seen in bodybuilding or globo gym population
  • Sometimes seen in individuals who lack upper body strength
  • Great for prime movers (bigger muscle groups) but low in functionality
  • Higher injury rate because it drastically loads the shoulder joint
  • Hard for shoulder blades to move properly

Elbow in position

  • Great alternative for people who have shoulder dysfunctions or injuries
  • Great position to start building strength
  • More triceps activation
  • Increases strength in pushing exercises such as bench press, handstand push-up, and shoulder press.
  • Shoulder blades will move more freely

Neutral (hybrid) elbow position

  • Hybrid elbow position
  • Functional
  • Great for individuals who have less flexibility
  • Get similar benefits from the elbow in and elbow out positions without overloading joint
  • Shoulder blades will move more freely

Consider the elbow in and neutral positions for functionality and overall strength. Everyone is different and I would advise to try each one and see which position works best for you. As always, aim for a pain-free range of motion.

Read More Rotator Cuff Workout for Strength and Injury Prevention

If you want a more structured program, take a look at our tracks for the Maddox Method.

fill out the form below to get started!

Take the first step towards getting the results you want!