How to do a full press-up and Why
Women have smaller muscles so it is more difficult to do full press-ups, I hear this very often. While that might be true up to a certain extent it usually has to do with training and conditioning.
As usual, I am here to challenge traditional way of thinking, and say that it is possible for a woman to do a considerable more amount of press-ups than a man.
In school, I was about 12 years old, I used to do fist press-ups without too much effort. I was an extremely skinny and short little girl but very strong.
One day the boys in my class challenged me…again. They were doing the “I bet I can do more press-ups that you” thing. And they bet I could not do more than them. Most of the guys had big , bulky muscles from gym work or other sports.
I was a very shy girl so one of my class mates had to convince me to “show them how it’s done”. So I went in front of the class, planted my fists on the wooden floor and began, 1,2,3…..all the way down with the chest….12…..15…..18…23….then, unfortunately for them, our teacher returned for the next lesson.
All the boys tried but could not even manage to do 1 full fist press up.
Today not much has changed.
Press-ups are not limited by muscle mass. You do not need muscles to be strong and those who have muscles are not necessarily stronger than those who don’t.
What are the benefits of doing a full press-up?
1. Strong core. I believe that the core in our body is the twin of the core in our mind. The stronger our physical core the stronger our mental core is. Learning a good technique press-up will strengthen both of them. Your physical core is formed by abs – side of abs – hips and pelvis – back – diaphragm.
2. Stability. Press-ups stabilize your whole body. That means your core again but also your shoulders and upper back. This means your joints and ligaments will become stronger and recover faster from an injury. It also helps you maintain a good posture and engage in daily activities such as bending or lifting without the risk of an injury.
3. Body awareness. This is about quality over quantity. When you are able to do a press-ups with a straight, plank like body, you are in control over your body and aware of its position and how it moves. This is mindfulness.
4. Toning. Working the chest and arm muscles (especially triceps – the back of your arm). This says it all. Toning all around upper body and even lower body to a certain extent.
5. Learn the general breathing pattern. Almost every exercise you will do follows the rule of breathing out on the effort. Master the breathing in a full press-up and most of the other exercises will come easier to do from a breathing point of view.
So how do you do a full press-up on your hands or fists, your choice?
Step 1 – Position
Learn to stay in a press-up position until you can hold it without moving or shaking for 1 min. More than that and it gets boring if you ask me
Place your hands under your shoulders and shoulder width apart .
Feet apart, not too wide (the wider the easier) but not next to each other (the more narrow the more difficult), hip width apart is just fine.
Step 2 – Bending elbows
When you can stand in a press-up position for 1 min or more start bending your elbows. Ideally you should bend your elbows backwards towards your ribs but that is more difficult. For the time being just bend your elbows however you can.
Oh you can’t go all the way down? That’s ok, you don’t have to. Go half way, a quarter, even less. Just keep your body straight, like a plank.
Lead with your chest. Don’t allow the hips to drop further or come up sooner than your chest. Your body stops wherever your chest stops. Your chest leads the way.
If you can’t bend your elbows at all go back to Step 1 or put your knees on the floor. However I do not recommend that because you will have the tendency to put a lot of weight on your knees without realising and that will not get you to do press-ups.
Step 3 – Breathing
When you do a press up breathing is very important to get the strength where and when you need it and to avoid blocking your airways.
The general rule is to breathe OUT on the effort. So when you lower yourself down your breath IN, when you push or press up your breath OUT
DOWN – BREATHE IN
UP – BREATHE OUT
Step 4 – Negatives
Negatives press ups. This means that you go down as low as you can (half way down, a quarter, even less) very, very slow. Like a snail. The you come up at normal speed or you get help from your knees. Then you repeat.
Step 5 – Practice
Practice, Practice, Practice.
You want to do a full press-up? Try doing 10 (no matter how low of high) every single day. You can do 1 at a time, stopping after each one. Does not matter, do 10 every single day. You can also do 10 negative press-ups or 5 negatives and 5 normal. You will see improvements probably within the first 7 days.
It is all about experimenting.
Important: Don’t sacrifice technique for speed or quantity. Learn to do it properly and you will never forget it, or rather your body won’t.
If you’d like to learn more please download my free eBook “15 Healthy Habits For The Body”