Top 10 exercises for Press-up/Push-up progression | By Jacqui Macquisten

| 02/03/2012 | 4 Comments More

The Press-up has taken its place as the cornerstone exercise of every military service across the World. It is an excellent exercise for muscular strength and muscular endurance.

Many people ask me how they can improve the number of press ups they can do.

My reply is nearly always the same, irrespective of how many they can currently do – follow a progression along 10 great press-up exercises and start on the exercise at which you can do at least 10 repetitions.

With each exercise you should practice doing the press ups in 3 different ways. The first is the traditional method with your hands shoulder width apart. The second is with your hands slightly wider apart (wide arm press-ups) and the third is you’re your hands -slightly closer together (close arm press-ups). This will help develop your chest muscles and triceps and that will help with your progression on to the next, and harder, press-up exercise.


Once you can do 10 reps on your starting exercise, with both hand positions, move on to trying to do 10 reps of the next exercise but aim to keep practising on the previous exercise until you can do 20 reps.

Progression to the next exercise each time is now dependant on being able to do 10 reps and 20 reps on the previous one.




Here are the 10 exercises


  1. Press ups on knees hands on box
  2. Press ups on knees hands on floor
  3. Press ups on knees with one hand on ball
  4. Press ups on floor
  5. Clap press ups on knees
  6. Press ups with one hand on ball
  7. Press ups on handles/barbell
  8. Press ups with feet on box
  9. Clap press ups on toes
  10. X- press press-ups


If you stick to this order of exercises and numbers of repetitions you will soon find you are pushing way past your personal best for the traditional press ups.

Some key rules to doing the press ups are as follows:-


  1. Make sure your back is straight all the time and do not drop your hips.
  2. Bend your arms at the elbow down to the point at which your chest is about ‘fist height’ away from the floor.
  3. Once your chest has come down to that ‘fist height’ push down through your hands and straighten your arms until your elbows lock straight back up to your starting position.
  4. Always remember that your body movement should rotate with your toes being the pivot point and not through the hips. It is common to see the chest being lowered by rotating through the hips but do not do this.
  5. Your head should be looking forward and not down during the press-up.

Some notes on the above exercises:-


a)      When doing exercises 3 & 6 with the ball, use a solid medicine ball and place one hand on top of the ball and your other hand on the floor. Lower your body as normal all the way to the ‘fist height’ position and then back up again. Having done one press up on the one side move the ball to the other hand and do the next one.


b)      For exercises 1 & 8 choose a box that is high enough so that your body is around 45 degrees to the floor. You must ensure that your body angle is no more than 45 degrees because any more than this and the focus changes from the chest muscles to the shoulder muscles.


c)      The X-Press press up machine is a true test for press up Kings and Queens. It digitally records each press up you do as your chest lowers down each time and presses down on a button. Its long range of movement make them a real challenge.

Good luck with this.

By Jacqui Macquisten | Personal Trainer & World Octathalon Champion.

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Category: Fitness Advice

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