the joy of strength training


November 5th, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Fun with press-ups!

Watch the press-ups video clip on youtube!

The press-up (or push-up) is one of the most versatile exercises out there. A lot of people are put off them because they think they are boring or they associate them with army seargants shouting in your ear. But the simple press-up deserves another look.

Abs/core exercise

Press-ups are great for abs. The straight body is maintained by engaging the core and ensuring your body remains rigid. You’ll notice if you watch someone else doing press-ups that it’s always the tummy which starts to sag, long before the arms give out. That’s how important a strong core is to good press-ups.

Muscular endurance and explosive strength
Press-ups train your strength in different ways. Doing lots of press-ups, like a max set, is good for muscular endurance. You can also use press-ups to improve muscular power by using explosive movements such as a push into the air (also known as pylometric press-ups).

Seven types of press-up

There are many different types of press-ups, targeting different muscle groups and different types of strength. Rather than go through them all, I’ve chosen seven types that I particularly enjoy. You can train your whole upper body and cv system with these exercises.

There’s a demonstration of all seven types of press-up in my 7 Types of Press-up video clip and descriptions below.

1. Normal press-up

normal press-up

A normal press-up is hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and feet together. You can make these a bit harder by putting your feet up on a bench or step, turning them into decline press-ups. This type of press-up is great for general upper body and core; the decline version hits the chest more. Just remember not to sag in the middle!

2. Marine press-up

marine press-up

Very similar to the normal press-up above, except that your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and your elbows remained tucked into your body at all times. This makes them harder than the normal press-up. That’s why they are called marine press-up or army-style press-up. This type of press-up works your triceps a bit harder.

3. Clap press-up

clap press-up

The clap press-up requires a big, explosive movement off the floor in order to get in a clap before smashing your nose into the deck! Actually it’s not that bad, the trick is to put as much as you can into the push. These press-ups are a great CV exercise – your heart rate will rocket. Explosive training like this increases your power. If you want to be really badass, you can work up to double clap press-ups and even triple clap press-ups. Like Ross Enamait of the fab Ross Training website.

4. Tricep press-up

tricep press-up

Okay, back to us mere mortals. This tricep press-up does what it says on the tin. It is also known as the diamond press-up because you put your hands in a diamond (or triangle) shape directly underneath your chin. The tricep press-up is quite challenging; most people don’t quite manage the full range of motion as everything seems to be going fine until you reach the last inch or two!

5. Shoulder press-up

shoulder press-up

As the name suggests, this type of press-up is great for shoulders and it is harder than it looks! From the starting position with your arms straight, simply lower yourself directly downwards until your forehead almost touches the ground, and press back up again. The bottom position puts quite a lot of weight on the shoulders. The closer your hands are to your feet, the harder it is, so it is advisable to start with your hands well away from your feet.

6. Divebomber press-up

To perform a divebomber, you start in the same position as the shoulder press-up and lower yourself to the ground, but instead of pushing straight back up again, you bring your head up and your hips down in a smooth arching movement, and then reverse the movement back to the starting position. It’s not the easier thing in the world to describe, but you can see a demonstration in the video clip that goes with this post.

7. Power over


For this exercise you need a raised platform or step. For extra challenge, you could use a medicine ball, which is more difficult by virtue of its shape and instability. You are basically doing press-ups with one hand on the raised step and one hand on the floor, but you swap hands with every press-up. Like the divebomber, it’ll make a bit more sense when you watch the demonstration. This is a pretty tough exercise. In my opinion, it’s harder than the basic clap press-up because you have the same explosion off the floor but you also have to move from side to side due to changing hands.

I hope that’s whetted your appetite and shown that press-ups don’t have to be boring. Press-ups are a great demonstration of strength, agility, endurance and power. And you can do them absolutely anywhere, any time.

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