Josh Silverman of Third Space gyms explains how to lift your press-up game to the next level…
1. YOUR HANDS
The mistake: You place your hands too wide and too far forward – this puts pressure on your shoulders.
The solution: Lie flat on the floor on your front, and place your thumbs in line with your breasts. Move your hands away from you until they’re just beneath your shoulders. From here, rotate your elbows out at 45° angles, so you don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders. Now rise up into your starting press-up position, pushing through your palms, and grip the floor with your fingertips.
The benefits: Stronger chest muscles, less chance of injury.
2. YOUR ALIGNMENT
The mistake: You “snake up” your chest leads, and your hips follow behind.
The solution: Squeeze your glutes (your bum) and core during the move. This stabilises your hips and transfers tension to keep your body in a line.
The benefits: The smoother movement builds strength and reduces the risk of lower-back pain.
3. YOUR POSITION
The mistake: You do half press-ups – with your knees on the floor – in the (desperate) hope that it will be easier.
The solution: Half press-ups do activate some muscles, but they use different levers (the way your muscles and bones move together). Instead, try full press-ups, but put your hands on a step or box. The incline will make the move less intense until you’re ready to progress.
The benefits: You’ll strengthen the same muscles and levers used in full press-ups, getting you ready for when you want to up the ante.
4. YOUR SHOULDERS
The mistake: You hunch over, putting too much strain on the wrong part of your shoulders.
The solution: Try to tuck your shoulder blades into your back pockets (impossible, we know, but that’s what it should feel like). Pull them away from your ears and draw them down your back.
The benefits: It’ll help prevent shoulder pain days later.
5. YOUR STRENGTH
The mistake: You do too many reps to increase the burn.
The solution: Do fewer reps, but add a resistance band across the back of your shoulders, with an end placed under each palm. This increases the force on your muscles as you push up.
The benefits: Too many reps of a regular press-up will decrease the effectiveness of the move, and increase the chance of straining your muscles. This adds variety, and makes sure you won't hurt yourself.