How do I do a press up?
“Oh no, not press ups!” If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that, I’d be doing my press ups on a beach in the Caribbean! The reason that some people don’t like them is that they’re a difficult exercise, but their benefits far outweigh the hard work required to master them.
Why should I bother with them?
The main muscle group involved in a press up is the Pectorals. As this is a large group, you’re using lots of muscle fibres, which can help increase your metabolic rate and burn more energy. For women, these muscles lie under your bust, so strengthening them can help with extra lift! You’re also using the shoulder and triceps muscles which will help achieve strength and tone around the arms, and it’s a great core exercise which will help strengthen your torso. As well as all of the above, the ability to be able to move your own body weight around is often overlooked, but is really important especially as we get older. What’s not to like?!
Where do I start?
Don’t start on your knees! Once you’ve mastered knee press ups, it’s still a big jump to full press ups so the best way is to find an elevation you can manage, and gradually decrease the angle of your body so that you increase the amount of body weight you’re pushing.
Beginner press up – standing upright facing a wall.
If you’re a complete beginner, stand facing a wall with your hands at chest height, shoulder distance apart. Pivot on the balls of your feet and take your nose to the wall, then push back whilst maintaining a straight body position.
Workbench or table at hip height with a comfortable amount of space behind.
Once you can do 15-20 of the wall press ups, find something a bit lower and increase the intensity. Make sure you’re still keeping your body straight and not bending at the hips to help with the push back, and this time take your chest to the edge rather than your nose. If you struggle, do as many as you can and finish the set with wall press ups.
Using a clear straight set of stairs, avoiding slippery flooring.
As you get stronger, you’ll keep changing your body angle until eventually you’re doing a full press up. Well done!
Full press up with hands and feet on floor.
What do I need to remember?
- Make sure that whatever you’re pushing against is stable and safe.
- Ensure that your feet won’t slip due to surfaces such as laminate flooring and rugs.
- Keep your core muscles braced, or drawn in, to protect your spine throughout.
- Once you can do 15-20 reps, it’s time to move to the next level.
- Don’t give up! If you can’t master the next level, go back to the previous one.
- If possible, try doing them in front of a mirror, or get someone to video you and check your form.
- If you get any low back pain, stop doing them and consult a gym coach or Personal Trainer.