The press-up is performed in a prone position (facing the floor) resting on your toes.
Head: Look naturally forwards, not at feet or upwards.
Hands: In line with shoulders, fingers facing forwards.
Hips: Lifted, in line with shoulders. Not raised up or hanging lower.
Tighten the core muscles.
Heels: The line from the tops of heels to the hips and shoulders should be straight.
To improve strength, change the angle in which key muscles work. This promotes the ability for the muscle to lengthen and contract in a variety of positions and therefore recruit more muscle fibres.
Angles might include staggered hand positions and a wider or narrower start position. For greater contraction of the lower body and promotion of core stability, lift one leg off the floor. The body now has to work harder to balance, stabilise and keep alignment.
Perform the exercise kneeling. This reduces the pressure on the arms and allows for less gravitational load of the hips.
For further regressions, raise the surface which you are pressing on. Inclining the hands on to a step reduces pressure on the wrists, which is a common complaint for people with weak wrists and arms.
Hips dropping low when in a full press-up. This will arch the lower back and cause problems and pain.
If the hand position is too narrow then the pressure is forced on to the outsides of the hands and the wrist is at risk of overuse and straining.
The head hanging low, especially when fatigued. This will not help posture and can strain neck muscles which will also hinder efficient breathing. Lifting your head to a natural looking forward position will let the breathing muscles operate and you can get the extra few reps in that you need.
These are mainly pectorals, triceps and the shoulder complex, especially the anterior shoulder. Core muscles: these stabilise to protect the lower back and fight against gravity that will weigh your hips down towards the ground.
Marvin Burton is a personal trainer and sports massage therapist. He writes courses and develops programmes for all aspects of health ranging from Pilates and training for children, to injury rehab and sports performance.
This feature was first printed in the June/July 2011 issue of Fitpro Network magazine.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.