A press-up, also known as a push-up, is a common strength training exercise performed in a prone position, lying horizontal and face down, raising and lowering the body using the arms. They develop the pectoral muscles and triceps, with ancillary benefits to the deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis and the midsection as a whole. Press-ups are a basic exercise used in civilian athletic training or physical education and, especially, in military physical training. The press-up is one of the seven primary calisthenic exercises.


The American English term push-up has been used since 1905–11, and the British English term press-up was first recorded 1945–50.


In the "full press-up", the back and legs are straight and off the floor. Several variations are seen, besides the common press-up. These include bringing the thumbs and index fingers of both hands together (a "diamond pressup") as well as having the elbows point towards the knees. These two variations are intended to put greater emphasis on the triceps rather than the shoulder and chest muscles. When both hands are unbalanced or on uneven surfaces, this exercise also works the body core. Raising the feet or hands onto elevated surfaces during the exercise emphasize the upper and lower pectorals, respectively. In any variation of a push up, a person will be lifting about 60 percent of their body weight.

Planche press-ups

Another extremely difficult variation is to perform a press-up using only hands, without resting the feet on the floor. These are known as "planche press-ups". To do this variation, the body's center of gravity must be kept over the hands while performing the press-up by leaning forward while the legs are elevated in the air, which requires great strength and a high level of balance. In this variation, the exercise is the equivalent of a person lifting 80% of their body weight.

Boxer's press-ups

Another variation often used as part of boxing training involves doing the press-up while wearing boxing gloves. The design of the gloves means that the person doing the press-up must do so on their knuckles and without bending their wrists. This method is also commonly used in martial arts, such as Karate and Tae Kwon Do, but without the boxing gloves.

Maltese press-ups

" Maltese push-ups" are a gymnastic variation of the press-up, in which the hands are positioned closer to the hips (as opposed to the pectorals), but with an extremely great distance between them.

Hindu press-ups

" Hindu press-ups" are a form of exercise prevalent in Indian physical culture and Indian martial arts, particularly Pehlwani. Hindu squats are called Uthak-bethak and the exercise regimen in Indian wrestling often consists of doing the Indian "jack-knifing press-ups", Indian club swinging and squats. The Hindu jack-knifing press-ups are part of the core exercises for building up of strength, stamina, and flexibility of joints. The dand was also a part of the exercise regimen of Bruce Lee.

The simple set of exercises of dand-baithak (press-up and squats) practiced in the villages of India has a beneficial effect on the spine. It takes off the strain from the spine and makes it fit to fight the other strains on the spine caused by the adoption of an erect posture.

The American College of Sports Medicine (2000) recommends using a press-up test to examine endurance on the upper-body musculature. For a male subject, assuming a dand position, with back straight, head up, and hands placed shoulder width apart, lowering his body with his chin touching the mat; the abdomen should not touch the mat.

Less difficult versions

There are some less difficult versions, which reduce the effort by supporting some of the body weight in some way. One can move on to the standard press-up after progress is made.

"Wall press-ups" are performed by standing close to a wall and pushing away from the wall with the arms; to increase the difficulty, move your feet further from the wall.

"Modified" press-ups are performed by supporting the lower body on the knees instead of the toes, which reduces the difficulty.


There are also a number of plyometric versions of the press-up that can be performed.

The aim of the "clap press-up" is to explosively push the body into the air for enough time to clap the hands together (once, or even more), then bring them back into position to cushion the fall.

In another type of plyometric press-up, the "drop push", two platforms are placed on either side of the trainee. The exercise begins with the hands on either platform supporting the body, then the subject drops to the ground and explosively rebounds with a press-up, extending the torso and arms completely off the ground and returning the hands to the platforms.

Another is simply an explosive press-up where a person attempts to push quickly and with enough force to raise their hands several centimeters off the ground, with the body completely suspended on the feet for a moment, a variation of the drop push.

With press-ups, many possibilities for customization and increased intensity are possible. Some examples are: One hand can be set on a higher platform than the other or be farther away from the other to give more weight to the opposite arm/side of the body and also exercise many diverse muscles. One can perform press-ups by using only the tips of the fingers and thumb. For increased difficulty, press-ups can be performed on one arm or using weights.

Non-training purposes

They are also commonly used as a fitness test or as a mild physical punishment on the spot, to show off physically or as demonstration of submission.

In a competitive or disciplinary context especially, it is not rare to use "nastier" variations, e.g. in mud, snow or dirt, divested, and/or to make it physically harder, as by putting one's foot or a weight on the performer's back (possibly with sanctions if equilibrium is lost, such as spilling a glass) or to do the exercise resting on the knuckles or not use all fingers (not counting the thumb).

Record breakers and attempts

The world record for most two-handed push back hand ups in one hour is 1,940 by Paddy Doyle of the UK, set in 2007. The most non-stop: 10,507 by Minoru Yoshida of Japan, set in October 1980.

See also


External links

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