Press-ups are a great bodyweight exercise to improve upper body and core strength. When performed correctly they strengthen shoulder stability and can help prevent injury. However, poor form during a press-up can increase the risk of shoulder injury and lower back pain.
- Start in a high plank position, with a straight line from your head down to your feet
- Hands should be under your shoulders, or at a width that is comfortable for you
- Squeeze your core and glutes to ensure lower back control
- Leading with your chest, slowly bend your arms to lower towards the floor
- You should aim for your chest to be as close to the floor as you can control
- Push down into the floor with your hands to straighten your arms back to the start position
- 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps (or as many as possible)
Key technique points:
- Keep your hips level and lower back straight
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together to engage the smaller shoulder muscles
- Don’t dip your head
- Keep the elbows tucked in to work your triceps more, or arms out wider for emphasis on your chest muscles
When you are able to easily complete each variation then move onto the next, however, if you are unable to control the movement then take a step back.
- Use a soft surface to add some instability under your hands
- Uneven press ups – so the higher arm has to work harder
- Bosu press-ups (either grip the bosu or palms flat)
It is always better to be able to perform an exercise with correct execution at an easier level than poor form at a harder level. Poor technique creates an injury risk.
- Drop your knees for a ¾ press-up
- Box press-up
- Incline press-up using a box or a wall