Press-​up, on knees

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What it’s good for Strengthens arm, shoulder and chest muscles. Particularly good for work­ing the under-​arm (tri­cep) muscles. The harder the press-​up, the more you will also work your core strength. Everyday bene­fits include bet­ter push­ing power for super­mar­ket trol­leys, heavy doors, wheel­chairs
How often to do it Daily
Equipment you’ll need A mat, rug, car­pet, towel or any­thing else that’s com­fort­able to kneel on, on the floor

There are many dif­fer­ent ways of doing press-​ups, some much harder than oth­ers. This is a good one to prac­tise if you’ve never done any before.

Kneeling on all fours at start of press-up on kneesBody is lowered down until nose nearly touches the ground in press-up on knees

  • Kneel on all fours, with your wrists dir­ectly under your shoulders and knees under your hips
  • Check that your spine is neut­ral and your head is in line with your back, not hanging down
  • Now place both hands a little wider out to the sides, and soften your elbows so they have a slight bend
  • Draw up your lower abs muscle and start to bend your elbows, lower­ing your chest down
  • Go as far as you can, stop­ping just short of your nose touch­ing the ground, then press your hands into the ground to push through your arms to bring you up again stead­ily
  • Briefly check your neut­ral spine, lower abs con­trol and head pos­i­tion, then repeat

Aim to do 15 slow, steady press-​ups in one go

Cannot do this at all? If you are find­ing this impossible, try the wall press instead.

Varying the exer­cise for more chal­lenge

Once you can do 15 good, slow press-​ups, you need to make the exer­cise a bit harder to con­tinue strength­en­ing your muscles. Below are just a couple of ways of increas­ing the chal­lenge. You can find many more on gen­eral fit­ness web­sites

The pro­gres­sions

Kneeling on all-fours with lower legs in air and feet crossed at start

Press-up, kneeling with legs crossed; nose close to ground at bottom of movement

1. Add an extra set of 15 press-​ups
Make sure you rest for at least three minutes before doing your second set

2. Slow down the move­ment
Try doing the press-​up to a reg­u­lar slow count of three as you lower and four as you push back up; slower makes more work for the muscles. It is very effect­ive but be sure to keep breath­ing through­out!

3. Lengthen your body pos­i­tion
Start with your “box” pos­i­tion kneel­ing on all fours, but then walk your hands for­wards, tak­ing your body with you but leav­ing your knees where they are. Now your body will be more stretched out. Shuffle your knees together, cross your feet and raise them off the floor a little. With your hands wide to your sides, this is your new start­ing pos­i­tion for the press-​up: your longer body pos­i­tion is going to make the work harder for your arms, abdom­in­als and chest muscles.

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