How to Turn the Humble Press-Up into an Ultra-Effective, Full-Body Workout

·3-min read

Physical fitness isn’t just about lifting heavy metal; it’s about how strong you are in relation to your body weight, says Martin Rooney, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts. That’s why he has the athletes he trains perform body-weight tests. And if they struggle, he knows that they need to either gain more strength – or lose some weight.

So what’s the best body-weight test to help you determine your overall strength and fitness level? It’s the classic press-up. Researchers at the University of Athens found that the standard press-up forces you to lift 66% of your body weight, which is by no means an easy feat.

Now, if you’re like most people, you might think that the press-up is just a chest exercise. But that’s only part of its benefit because in reality, the press-up is a super-efficient exercise for time-strapped men who want to shape up (that’s most of us, then). You can do this move from anywhere and it works both your arms and shoulders, strengthens your back and chest, and also tones your glutes and legs.

Recent research by Canadian scientists shows that adding some press-ups to your regular fitness regimen is a highly effective way to train your abs, too, forcing your core to work overtime to help you maintain proper posture.

Of course, you’ll only reap the full benefits if you’re doing the exercise correctly. That’s why we enlisted our experts to help you get the most out of this move. Use their cues to test your press-up potential, master faultless form and carve the body you want – with no gym or equipment required.

Transform a Press-up into a New Total-Body Workout

01 Single-Leg

Perform a press-up but elevate one leg instead of keeping both feet on the floor.

02 Dive-Bomb

Start with your hips up; then pull your body forward, lower your hips and straighten your arms.

03 Knee-to-Chest

As you press up, bring a knee towards your chest. Alternate knees with each rep.

04 Clapping

Do a press-up but with enough force so that you can launch off the floor and clap.

05 Knee-to-Elbow

Do a press-up but touch your knee to your elbow at the bottom. Alternate sides with each rep.

How Many Press-ups Should You Be Capable Of?

Want to know what’s a solid figure for your age range? Barring issues with injury or mobility, this is where you want your efforts to sit. (Unless, of course, you can do even better.) Complete the test unbroken with tight form – only stopping when you reach the point of failure.

In Your 20s: 22-28

In Your 30s: 17-21

In Your 40s: 13-16

In Your 50s: 10-12

In Your 60s: 8-10

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