The press up, an exercise that seems so simple but has so many benefits, don't disregard body weight exercises when trying to build your strength because you having to push your own body weight up aka a weight. A press up will help work the muscles in your arms, chest, core and lower body as well, it is a full body exercise that makes the muscles work together. It does require upper body strength which is why it can be harder for women as we tend to be a bit weaker in that area. HOWEVER we can still get there with practise.
When it comes to starting out doing press ups people tend to put their knees on the floor and start the press up progression from there. But I find this doesn't activate the muscles in the same way as a full way, your core won't be as engaged because you have created a a shorter leaver. Instead I prefer to start my clients on an incline press up, the higher the incline the easier the press up will be so as you progress just lower the incline. These can be done on a box, smith machine or step.
The main teaching points for a press up are:
* Keep the core engaged and legs straight
*As you lower think about the chest going to the floor and the body staying in a flat position
*Don't dip the back or push up the pelvis
*Once you get to the point where your elbows are at shoulder height start to push back to the start position
These need to be used in what ever push up variation you are doing it will just be the position that changes.
Once you have mastered a full press up easily for 10 reps you can start trying a couple of other variations such as the decline press up or the tricep press up. With the Decline press up you will have your feet higher than that your arms, the higher they are the harder it will be.
This requires more upper body and core strength as you have removed the stability aspect of the lower body taking it away from the floor. As your lower body tends to hold more mass than your upper body this adds to the difficulty of the exercise.
The Tricep press up does what it says in the name and focuses more on the Triceps, as these are a smaller muscle than the ones in your chest making it harder. You need to remember to keep the arms close to the body and the elbows pointing upwards.
I personally struggle with these and can only do 1 or 2 in a row. A way that I also work on my press ups and the ones of my clients is with Eccentric Press Ups, these are when you lower yourself all the way to the floor (focusing on the eccentric phase of the movement) then relax out of the movement to bring yourself back to the start position. By doing these you are getting the muscles used to holding your body in these positions without the extra pressure of the push. As you get stronger you will be able to add the press part into the movement.
So the next time you think you can't do a press up give the incline or Eccentric version a go and slowly work your way through the rest. And remember failing isn't a bad thing we learn from our failures and progress to success.
Love Vicki xxx