Press ups

These have been organised, as far as possible, into a progressively more difficult order.

  1. Wall press-ups;
    • Lean against a wall with your arms spread as if you were trying to push the wall down.
    • There should be a 90° angle between the underside of your arm and the side of your body.
    • Your body should be at about 45°' to the wall.
    • Press.

  2. Kneeling;
    • Kneel on the floor.
    • Upper body parallel to the floor.
    • Arm position as in number one.
    • Press.

  3. 'Traditional';
    • Body extended, as if lying down on your front.
    • Weight divided between balls of feet and hands.
    • Arms position as in No. 1.
    • Press.

  4. Narrow grip;
    • Body position as in No. 1.
    • Arms flush with the side of your body.
    • A 90°angle between arms and body.
    • As you press, you should feel your arms brushing against your sides.
    • Press.

  5. Narrow grip with triangle;
    • Arms and body as in No. 4.
    • This time, you hands should be positioned centrally, under your chest. Tip of your first fingers and thumbs touching to create a triangle space in between your hands.
    • Press.

  6. Wide/Narrow grip;
    • Place your hands as in No. 5. This time your hands should face each other. ie your middle finger tips are touching.
    • Elbows at 90° to body.
    • Press.

  7. Side to side;
    • Hands in wide grip. Wider than 'traditional'
    • Lower yourself down next to one hand.
    • Push up and across to the other hand.
    • Lower and repeat.
    • An alternative is to push yourself along just above the floor.

  8. Swallow dives;
    • Arms wide, as in 'traditional'.
    • Legs wide, on same level as hands.
    • From the 'up' position lower yourself so your chest almost brushes the floor.
    • Push forwards as far as you can.
    • Push up and back into starting position.
    • Aim for a smooth circular motion.

  9. Standing;
    • Stand with your body bent in two.
    • Head as close to your knees as possible, hands on floor, legs straight, feet slightly apart.
    • Press (and try not to fall over).

  10. Handstand;
    • Do a handstand so your feet are leaning on a wall.
    • Press.

Variations on a theme

Any of the above can be varied in a number of ways. Some are more suitable than others, eg I wouldn't recommend a one handed handstand press up for a beginner, or most people for that matter. Generally it would be best to stick to 'traditional'

  1. Bullet press;
    • Hold your press up in the half way position, neither up nor down.
    • Move quickly up and down by 1 inch each way.
    • Make the distance travelled greater as you see fit.

  2. Clap;
    • To develop speed and spring in your arms.
    • Push up with sufficient force to be able to clap your hands and get them back into position before you land on your nose.
    • For the really adventurous, try clapping behind your back.

  3. One handed;
    • Self-explanatory.
    • Your loose hand should be placed behind your back.
    • Remember to work both sides evenly.

  4. Held;
    • Simply hold the press up in any of the various degrees of the press.

  5. Slow;
    • Carry out your chosen press up style as slowly as is possible.

  6. Feet raised;
    • Make sure the surface is stable.

  7. On parallel bars;
    • Allows you to dip your body further down than in a normal press-up and so you get a greater range of movement.
    • Similar objects may allow you to do the same thing. Custom made aids are available from all good sports shops.

  8. Partner clap;
    • To be done facing a partner.
    • In the raised position clap hands with them, ie: your Left hand to their Right, and vice versa.

  9. Leg raise;
    • Raise one leg as high as is comfortable.
    • Leave your leg in this position and press.
    • Repeat with other leg.
    • Don't try to raise both legs at once.

  10. Partner raises;
    • Get your partner to lie on top of you.
    • Try and press.



  1. Bend your body slightly, ie think of your body as 2 straight lines, one from your head to your bum and one from your bum to your toes. Raising your bum slightly takes the pressure off your lower back and pushes more weight onto your arms, which is what you're trying to work anyway!!!
  2. Each exercise smoothly.
  3. Work both sides evenly.
  4. If possible, do the exercise on something with a little give in it (e.g. a gym mat or sprung floor). This takes some of the pressure of your wrists.
  5. Vary your routine.


  1. Extend your arms fully so the elbows 'lock'. Always keep some give in your arms to avoid damaging the joint through repeated use.
  2. Arch your back.
  3. Swing the small of your back down as you descend. Keeping your body slightly bent will help avoid this.
  4. Over do it!!!