Do you want to get better at your press ups?

A press up (or push up) is one of the most popular bodyweight movements and has lots of benefits including being able to perform them absolutely anywhere without much space or any equipment. Many gym-goers struggle with mastering these as they are extremely challenging – does this sound familiar? If so, we’ve got you covered as there are lots of options to make them easier (or more difficult) depending on where you’re currently at!

Press ups will work a number of muscles at once when performing one correctly – what a bonus! The main muscles targeted will be your pectoral chest muscles, although triceps will be working throughout the movement too, as well as your shoulders for support and core for stability. Trying some different variations can promote muscle growth, shoulder stability, mobility and core strength.

It is important to ensure every repetition is performed with correct form to get the most out of each one and to help you master the movement.


How to perform a standard full press up:

Start in the high plank position (prone/face down) with hands on the floor approximately shoulder width apart and up on your toes. Keep your fingers splayed out wide and aiming for your middle finger to be pointing directly forwards.

Bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor with control, your elbows should be at around a 45 degree angle to your body at this point. Keeping your core tight is important throughout this movement to ensure your body stays in a strong position and your back does not arch.

When your chest touches the floor you should focus on keeping your core engaged and pushing the floor away from you to push your body back up to the starting high plank position.


Try these variations to help you build up to mastering a full press up:

Wall press up – place your hands on a wall shoulder width apart and step back with your feet until you are at your desired angle (the further back the feet are, the harder the movement). Lower your body towards the wall and then push the wall away until your arms are straight and you are back in the starting position.


Incline press up – starting with your hands on a raised platform and lower yourself until your chest touches that platform (this can be done on anything from a chair or plyo box to a small step), drive back up to the starting position.


Knees press up – Drop your knees to the floor and ensure your core stays tight to keep your body in a straight line through from your knees, to hips, to shoulders. Bend your elbows to lower your body to the floor, then drive back up to straighten the arms.


Hand-release press up – lower your body to the floor from a high plank, lift your hands off the floor, then replace and push back up to the top starting position.


Progressions to try once you have conquered the full press up:

Wide press up – change your hand position to be wider than shoulder width to get more of a stretch across your chest at the bottom phase of the movement.


Narrow press up – change your hand position to be closer together and this will encourage more triceps involvement.


Decline press up – starting with your feet on a raised platform and make sure your shoulders are stacked directly above your wrists. Lower yourself until your chest touches the floor (this can be done on anything such as a chair, plyo box or a small step), then push through your hands and drive back up to the starting position.


Diamond press up – place your hands in a diamond shape together directly under the middle of your chest. Lower yourself to touch your chest to your hands, then push through your hands in this position to drive back up until your arms are straight.


Advanced progressions for you hardcore gym-goers!

  • Pike press up
  • Handstand press up
  • 1 arm press up
  • Weighted press up
  • Raised leg press up
  • Spiderman press up
  • Clap press up


So many options and variations to try including more than we have covered here! So keep practising those press ups and see how many variations you can master…