Perfecting the press up

The humble press up is a fantastic move to master. You don't need any kit for this do-anywhere exercise which strengthens and tones the upper body. Perfect the technique with our press up masterclass.

Why do press ups?

Press ups are a fantastic exercise for strengthening and toning the entire upper body, including the pectoral (chest) muscles, arms (particularly the triceps, or "bingo wings") and back. They even work the core, helping you build a flat, strong stomach and healthier lower back. And the best thing about press ups is that you don't need fancy kit or a gym membership. All you need is a little floor space, and your own body.

 

How to Press Up  for beginners, intermediate and expert levels

 

Beginners press ups

 

 

1 Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders. Move your knees back a little so your spine is in a straight line from neck to bottom, and your hips crease is open. Now move your hands out (but not forward)  so they are wider than shoulder-width.

2 Bend your arms at the elbows and move your chest towards the floor. Keep your back straight, your spine in alignment, and your eyes looking at the floor slightly ahead of you. Don't sag at your lower back.

3 Take your chest as close to the floor as possible and then push up strongly from this position, back to the start position.

4 Repeat as many times as you can with good form. Once you can do 10, it's time to move on.

 

Advanced press ups (Conventional press up shown in main blog image)

 

1 Start in a full press up position, supporting yourself on your toes and hands. Hands are under your shoulders and spine is straight and aligned from neck to bottom. Your body is in a straight line from head to toes.  Move your hands out (but not forward) so they are wider than shoulder-width.

2 Bend your arms at the elbows and move your chest towards the floor. Think about taking your sternum towards the floor before anything else. Keep your back straight and your eyes looking at the floor slightly ahead of you. Don't let your back sag or your hips drop.

3 Take your chest as close to the floor as possible and then push up strongly from this position, back to the start position. If you can't move your chest to within a few inches of the floor, build your strength up more with the beginners move.

4 Repeat as many times as you can with good form. Once you can do 10, it's time to add some expert options.

 

Expert press ups (options)

 

 

1 Ensure you can perform at least 10 full press ups with good form.

2 Place your feet on a low bench and perform a set of press ups (using the standard full press up technique, but with feet elevated). Keep the body straight and the core engaged.

3 Perform standard full press ups, but with your hands together beneath your chest, in a diamond shape. Keep the hands here as you lower down (diamond press ups). The elbows should go outwards as you lower down.

4 Place the hands under the shoulders and slightly back towards the rib cage, and send the elbows backwards as you perform the press up (triceps press up). Your arms should brush your sides.

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