I was in a really good mood the other day. A lass who is a regular in the gym actually came up and asked how to improve her pressups! Most people grimace and run a mile when I mention pressups to them! So here is a rough and ready guide to pressups. How to do them and how not to do them..
What parts of the body are involved?
Because they are an upper body pushing exercise, the main working muscles are:
- Pectorals (chest muscles)
- Anterior deltoids (front of the shoulders)
- Triceps (back of the arms, or “bingo wings”)
But many other muscles are also involved, mostly in supporting roles, including your abdominals.
Why are pressups so good?
- They are a big, compound move (they move more than one joint at a time).
- They match basic, everyday, practical moves, where we push something/someone away from us (one of my friends imagines she is pushing blokes away in the pub!)
- They can help teach the body to move in a more coordinated fashion.
- They can help increase bone density in your arms if you are at risk of osteoporosis (eg women of a certain age).
- Depending on your current abilities, they can increase your muscular strength or endurance.
- They are free and you don’t need any equipment to do them.
- They are a good Keystone Ability.
How to do the ideal pressup.
First of all, remember that I am describing an “ideal” pressup here. None of us are “ideal”. I know I’m not. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying our best. If you have difficulty with an “ideal” pressup, don’t panic! Just don’t stop trying either and you will get there in a few days/weeks/months.
Support your weight on the floor with your hands and toes.
- Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, but a couple of inches wider than shoulder width.
- Your arms should be vertical when seen from the side.
- Your whole body should be dead flat from your head to your heels, with no bends/kinks in the spine or hips.
- Keeping your body rigid at all times, bend your arms until your chest is nearly touching the floor. Remember, no sagging/bending/kinking at the belly/back/hips.
- At the bottom, your hands should be roughly in line with your nipples, your forearms dead vertical and your upper arms making a roughly 45 degree angle with the side of your body.
- Your shoulders should be tucked back and down. In other words, they should not be hunched.
- Keeping your body straight and rigid, push your hands into the floor and return your body to the start position.
- Make sure your body moves as one, single unit
- Don’t let your hips or your head/shoulders lead the way.
How to make them easier.
- Do everything exactly the same, except put your hands on a step/ledge/box so they are further away from the floor.
- The higher the step, or the greater the incline of your body, the easier it becomes.
- As you get better/stronger, use a lower step.
How to make them harder.
- Do everything exactly the same, except put your feet on a step/ledge/box so they are further away from the floor.
- The higher the step, or the greater the decline of your body, the harder it becomes.
- As you get better/stronger, use a higher step.
Now everyone go out there and do some pressups. They are good for you!