Have you ever wondered, “How to Do Push Ups With Double-Jointed Elbows?”
I’m sure if you have hypermobile elbow joints you’re worried about performing push ups.
In fact, you’re probably quite frightened about performing any type of pushing exercise.
There’s always the danger that you’ll push the elbow joint past 180 degrees, which will undoubtedly lead to injury.
So, how exactly can you do push ups (and even bench press or overhead press) with double-jointed elbows?
Allow me to explain everything you need to know.
How to Do Push Ups With Double-Jointed Elbows?
The most important factor when doing push ups with double-jointed elbows is to ensure that you don’t lock out at the top. If you consistently lock the elbows out past 180 degrees this will eventually lead to injury. You should aim to always leave around 5 degrees of flexion in the elbows. Additionally, a stronger core and glutes will actually help you to keep this flexion in your elbows. Furthermore, training the various muscles attached to the elbow joint will provide extra stability.
1. Don’t Lock Out on Push Ups (Or Any Exercise)
So, the best tip for doing push ups with double-jointed elbows, or in truth with hypermobility, is to not lock out at the top.
In fact, the same can be said for any exercise that involves using your arms.
Therefore, push-based exercises like bench press and overhead press, and even pull-based exercises like rows and pull ups.
The whole point being that if you do lock out then you’re probably going to take your elbow past 180 degrees.
Now, if you’re someone who has hypermobility in the elbows then this obviously won’t actually hurt.
However, this action, especially with resistance-based exercise (whether with weights or your own body weight), is going to put your elbows in a precarious position.
And unfortunately, if you continue doing this then you’re only going to succumb to injury.
Okay, I completely understand that it’s easy to say “don’t lock out”.
In fact, it’s far easier said than done.
However, you’ll have to make a concerted effort to really concentrate on your arm and elbow position each and every time you perform push ups.
In reality, you’ll want to stop just short of lock out and leave around 5 degrees of flexion in the elbows.
But, this isn’t actually a bad thing, as you’ll keep continuous tension on the working muscles.
In effect, you’ll increase time under tension (something that we all strive for), as the working muscles never get a chance to fully relax until the set is over.
So, you should use this to your advantage – additional time under tension means that you have the potential for better muscle and strength gains.
I will also say that regardless of the exercise, you should always stop prior to locking out and keep that 5 degrees of flexion in the elbow.
2. Work on Your Core & Glute Strength
Something else to consider with push ups and hypermobile elbows is your core and glute strength.
Now, initially this may seem completely irrelevant, so bear with me on this.
Regardless of whether you have double-jointed elbows or not, your core and glutes play a huge role in push ups.
Most people like to view push ups as an upper body exercise which mainly focuses on the pecs, front delts, and triceps.
However, I typically view push ups as a full body exercise.
By this I mean that you should engage various muscles in the body when performing push ups.
You’ll actually find that the weaker your core and glutes are, the more likely your midsection will sag during push ups.
And unfortunately this weakness will generally make you push harder to get yourself out of the bottom position.
What usually happens here is that your body takes on a banana-type shape.
Your upper body is almost at a 45 degree angle at the top of a push up, whereas your abdominal region and legs are barely off the ground.
This position in itself almost forces you to lock out your arms, which of course if you have hypermobile elbows could mean that you go past 180 degrees.
Your aim should be to keep your core and glutes tight throughout each rep, while your body should remain perfectly aligned.
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However, this position is harder to maintain if you have a weak core and glutes.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to work on these areas of the body, and the knock-on effect is that it will help to improve your push ups too.
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3. Work on Your Arm Strength
The final way to ensure you can perform push ups safely with double-jointed elbows is to work on your arm strength.
More specifically, look to strengthen the muscles that are connected to the elbow joint.
These are as follows:
- Biceps Brachii – This is the upper arm muscle that allows for flexion of the arm. In effect, this is both the long head and short head of the bicep, but what we typically refer to as the “biceps”.
- Triceps Brachii – This is the muscle of the back of the upper arm that allows you to fix the elbow and extend the arm during movements. Once again, this encompasses both the long and short head of the triceps.
- Brachialis – This is a muscle on the upper arm, which lies beneath the bicep, and allows you to flex the arm towards the body.
If you strengthen each of these muscles you’ll provide far more support for the elbow joint during push ups, as well as most pushing and pulling exercises.
A weakness in any of these muscles provides a less stable base during push ups, which of course can lead to you hyperextending the elbow.
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So, as you can see, the most important aspect of performing push ups with double-jointed elbows is to not allow yourself to lock out at the top.
Admittedly, you probably won’t feel anything if you do, as your hypermobility allows you to extend the elbow further than most.
However, this continued action will eventually lead to injury.
You should always stop just short of full lock out and allow yourself approximately 5 degrees of flexion in the elbows.
It also makes a great deal of sense to work on your core, glutes, biceps, triceps, and brachialis strength too.
This will ensure that you have a stable base and better support of your body weight and elbows during push ups.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.