Thanks for checking out this blog post. This week I’m going to cover off an old favourite. The humble press-up, a thing of beauty, easy to do anywhere, requiring no equipment and so damn effective.
You might hate them or find them particularly tricky. You might think you don’t need to do them because you’re a runner or a cyclist so you should just focus on your lower body. But my advice is to stop thinking of a press-up as only for your arms, they are way more than that. Doing them well means you work your chest muscles, your triceps, and best of all it gives your core muscles – those ones around your tummy – a challenge too as you’re naturally forced to raise them and keep them pulled in. Build a set of press-ups into every workout you do and the results will speak for themselves.
Before I start talking technique, here is a video of me trying to do as many press-ups as I can in 10 seconds with Sophie, an eight-stone lass on my back. It was tougher than I was expecting!
Right, so here’s a video of my take on a perfect press-up in action, along with a description below. If you find it too easy on the last few reps of a set, you’ll know you’re making progress and should try an extra set.
For the classic press-up, lie on the floor face down and place your hands at a distance just further than your shoulders’ width while holding your torso up at arm’s length. Keep your thighs and legs straight, with your toes facing down and the balls of your feet maintaining your balance. Head forward guys – no slacking – keep the chin up! Next, lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale. Now, breathe out and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest. After a pause at the top contracted position, you can begin to lower yourself downward again for as many repetitions as your goal. How about getting into a press-up challenge with your mates to keep your motivation going? It’s great fun and nothing beats a bit of friendly competition.
If you’re not quite ready for a press-up then try doing the above but with your knees on the ground. You’re better off doing 10 modified press-ups with perfect form than five full press-ups with hunched shoulders or drooping hips. And you still work the same core, chest and arm muscles.
If you’ve mastered the traditional press-up then there are loads of ways to mix it up. For instance, try the single-leg push-up which intensifies work on your upper body and core. Just lift one leg up off the ground and do a set. Switch legs on the next set. Or try feet-elevated push-ups which is exactly what it sounds like, normal push-ups but with your feet raised on a stable platform like a box or bench. The higher the platform, the more you’ll work your shoulders, chest and core.
See you in a week for my best tips on working your abs, essential advice if you want to build a six pack, or even just lose the beer pack.
All the best,
Disclaimer: Before undertaking any exercise or fitness programme please see a doctor or medical professional if you have a medical condition or physical restriction that may make some of Jake’s tips and work out suggestions unsuitable. Jake is not a qualified fitness instructor but a dedicated, fitness enthusiast. If you require advice from a professional fitness expert we recommend you contact your local gym or health club.