How to master the humble Push-up
Truly the one exercise that can be performed anywhere at any time, the press-up is, nevertheless, an often misunderstood and under appreciated aspect of bodyweight fitness.
Many men ditch it early on in their workout lives for the bright lights of the benchpress and other more 'impressive' moves.
But while it might seem a bit Year 10 gym lesson, the amount of customisation that can be brought to a standard press-up routine makes it an invaluable part of a functional, healthy workout... there's a reason Jake Gyllenhaal did 2,000 a day to get into fighting shape for Southpaw.
Below we highlight how to get the humble push-up right.
Like all good calisthenic exercises, the press-up works much more than just your chest, with forearms, triceps, shoulders, abs and back muscles all wading in on the action. But good technique is a must. Here are five pointers for making the most of your basic press-up.
1. Don't flair your elbows
Often the first thing to go when fatigue begins to set in, keeping your elbows pinned to your sides throughout a press-up is essential in order to maximise gains in the chest while avoiding unnecessary pressure on shoulder joints.
An easy rule to apply to your breathing when performing press-ups is to inhale as you descend and exhale as you ascend. Timing your breathing will also help in maintaining control and proper technique.
3. Grip the floor
Instead of having your fingers and palms flat during a press-up, imagine that you are gripping onto the floor, with your thumbs facing each other and fingers arched, this will help to increase muscle tension (in a good way) and work your triceps and back muscles even more.
You might think that the action itself is enough to work your abs, but if you want to get optimum six-pack benefit from your press-up then you're going to need to focus and engage your core.
The easiest way to do this is to brace yourself like you're about to take a punch, tightening the stomach muscles and engaging through the full range of motion. Not only does this help work your abdominals, but it also stops your back from arching and, possibly, getting injured.
5. Tighten your glutes
One of the largest muscle groups at your disposal, by squeezing your glutes during a press-up you will improve posture, maintain a straight back and add to your overall muscle tension.