There is actually only one way to do a pushup: the right way. Legs straight, butt tight, hips in line, abs tight, and head neutral, your body could easily be mistaken for a beautifully chiseled slab of marble being raised and lowered an arm’s length from one end. This generally lasts for 3-5 reps until the slab of marble begins to more closely resemble a large wet noodle suspended from the ceiling from at least 3 separate rubber tethers.
I witness this occur with other movements as well. Pullups, overhead squats, push presses, whatever – the common theme seems to be that the first few reps are strong, beautiful, and clear, while the remainder progressively push their validity further into an ugly grey area. Not only is this painful to watch, it’s dangerous as well; losing midline stabilization when you have a large load overhead is never a good idea.
My stance on that is to do the movement the way the movement is supposed to be done, regardless of how tired you think you are. If you can’t do the movement RX’d yet, then get as close to it as possible and keep on trying to do it better. But please, for the love of all things heavy that need lifting, don’t lower your standards as the workout progresses. Because somewhere in the world, someone is just starting their workout.
And their pushups still look like pushups.