Press ups are a move that personal trainers and exercise pros use again and again for two reasons: they work multiple areas of your body at the same time, and once you get the hang of them, you can do them anywhere.
If exercise isn't exactly your strong point, and your last press up experience saw you fall flat on your face and vow never to attempt one again, we have good news. There isn't just one type of press up. In fact, our 30-day press up challenge will teach you 7 types of press ups - all of which target key areas you want to tone. By the end of the month, you'll have mastered even the most trickiest of press ups by working up to it slowly, at a pace that suits you. And you'll have a fitter, more toned-up body to boot.
The press up is one of the most-loved exercise moves because it targets so many areas in one go when performed correctly (don't worry - we'll come onto that!). They define your tummy muscles, target triceps (yep, bingo wings ladies), define shoulders and help to streamline your torso. You'll be getting leaner while you burn calories - it's a win win!
Oh, and did we mention the rather appealing fact that press ups can be performed anywhere, and for free? Yes, that means you can even do your 30-day press up challenge from the comfort of your living room (daytime TV optional!).
Nutracheck Fitness Expert Kelly Marshall shows you exactly how you can perform each press up at home, no personal trainers or equipment needed.
What does the plan involve?Kelly says: 'In this 30-day challenge we look at how you develop your strength in order to achieve a full bodyweight press up, even if you have never done them before.
'Using a variety of advanced techniques and variations of the classic press up, we can prepare the muscles and your mechanics for the demands of this exercise.'
The challengeTo start your 30-day press up challenge all you need to do is enter a few details below to be sent your very own plan straight to your email. You can then print it out and stick it somewhere that will remind you every day to do your press ups, or just save it to your phone - so it's always handy when you have a few minutes to spare.
The movesKelly demonstrates how to perfect each of the four moves you'll need to know, to take on the 30-day press up challenge:
1. Shoulder tap (knees)
Begin on your knees with your hands on the floor, directly underneath your armpits.
Lower your hips towards the floor so your weight is on your hands and your chest is over your hands. Pull your tummy muscles in and then lift one hand to touch your opposite shoulder before replacing and repeating with the other arm. Repeat for the desired repetitions.
2. Static press up hold (knees)
This static exercise is designed to prepare your muscles and shoulder joint stabilisers for the bottom position of the press up, where your muscles are at their full stretch and essentially weakest point.
Start by adopting the press up on knees position (below), ensuring your hands are wider than shoulders and your chest is over your hands. Then lower your body half way towards the floor (so your elbow would be nearly at 90 degrees) and at this point hold the position for as long as possible - until you fail. Keep your tummy muscles in at all times and your chest proud and over your hands (this provides the best mechanical position for the shoulders and reduces involvement of the neck).
3. Press up (knees)
The halfway point to full press ups, this on-knees version is a press up, just with a lesser percentage of your bodyweight.
Aim for as full a range of motion as possible with each rep, ensuring your tummy muscles are pulled in, your chest remains over your hands and you lower your body to 90 degrees before returning to the start position to count as one repetition.
4. Extended arm shoulder tap
This is simply the advanced version of the shoulder taps on knees, the difference being you will be balancing on your toes in essentially the starting position of a full press up, when you do the shoulder taps.
Same rules apply here - chest over hands, tummy in and use the positioning of your feet to make this manageable. The closer together your feet the harder it will be, feet further apart provides a better balanced tripod.
5. Static press up hold (toes)
This static exercise is the progression of the on-knees version, a step closer to the full press up! Remember this is designed to prepare your muscles and shoulder joint stabilisers for the bottom position of the press up where your muscles are at their full stretch and essentially weakest point.
This will feel hard as it is the hardest point of the press up - which is why we are considering it and isolating it! Adopt the press up position on toes and then with tummy pulled in lower yourself towards the floor to a weight you can manage to sustain for the desired time period (or to failure depending on what day of the challenge you are on). Keep your tummy muscles in at all times and your chest proud and over your hands (this provides the best mechanical position for the shoulders and reduces involvement of the neck).
6. Press up (negatives)
This advanced exercise is all about training the muscles in when they're lengthening. Working on this part of the movement creates significant strength to prepare and propel you towards that full press up!
Start with the full press up position and then, with your tummy muscles pulled, in slowly lower your body to the floor. The key is it must be slow, as slow as you can be actually! Once you make contact with the floor (hopefully gently) you can simply push back onto your knees and gently sit yourself up then adopt the press up position again. Then once again repeat the lowering movement to the floor.
7. Full press up
What you have been aiming for! Adopt the full press up position with hands wider than shoulders, chest over hands and your tummy muscles pulled in. Lower your body half way to the floor (ideally to 90 degrees at your elbow) then push down into the floor with your hands to push the body back up to extended elbows.
It is crucial to keep your tummy muscles in tight and your hips elevated slightly to avoid dipping your back and creating a 'snaking up' movement. Your body should be like a 'plank' throughout the entire movement.
We'd love to know if you're going to take on the 30-day press up challenge, and for you to keep us posted with your progress! Either leave us a comment below or visit our Facebook page to share your exercise experiences. Good luck!
Kelly Marshall, Nutracheck Fitness Expert says 'It's true that you can't out-train a bad diet. To get the maximum benefit from your press up exercise plan, you need to make sure your nutrition is as focused as your exercise. The Nutracheck App is a must-have tool if you want to monitor your diet and track your calorie intake'.
If you are trying to lose a few pounds as well as tone up, the Nutracheck calorie counter App and website can help. Enter all the activity you do in the exercise diary and see how many calories you've burn. Record everything you eat in the Nutracheck food diary - the App is super-fast to use - and get the balance right to lose weight.