Press Up vs Push Up

The popularity of the gym and fitness industry has been increasing exponentially for the last five years. To some extent, we give credit to actors, divas, and models, who flaunt their perfectly toned abs and flat stomachs on Instagram. We then jump at every chance of pushing our bodies to the limit in hopes of keeping up with the trend. And ever since we became fitness fanatics, the gyms have never been empty.

Until now…

With the novel coronavirus, the gyms are closing their doors. But does it mean we need to abandon our workouts? Certainly not. Just because the gyms are closed doesn’t mean we should stop carving the beach body. Traditional exercises, like the push-up and press-up, are the perfect physical activities within the four walls of our homes.

Why Press-Up and Push Up?

The benefits of press-up and push-up are plentiful. For one, these exercises increase whole body definition. Throughout the movements of a press-up and push-up, you call upon different primary and stabilizing muscles. The more muscle mass you utilize during the training exercise, the greater the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This specialized hormone is triggered when you recruit a wide array of muscles, which ultimately results in muscle growth.

In a nutshell, these exercises activate muscle groups in your body. The major muscle groups that you activate when doing a push-up and press-up are core muscles, biceps, anterior deltoids, and lower body muscle groups. Perhaps you have always wondered why a push-up is so much harder than a standard bench press. Well, that is because push-up is a compound exercise that increases functional strength via full-body activation.

The most apparent benefit of push-up and press-up is the stretch it provides to your back muscles and biceps. Your back muscles get effectively stretched as you lower yourself to the floor, while your biceps get fully stretched as you push yourself to the starting position. As a result, you obtain a well-stretched, solid overall appearance.

While there are a plethora of exercise options for working out at home, the push-up and press-up allow no cost for a full-body workout. There is no need to invest in a piece of equipment as your body will do all the work.

Press-Up vs Push-Up

You’re probably wondering why these exercises offer the same benefits. Well, that is because they refer to the same thing. The classic ‘press-up’ is a British term for the exercise while ‘push-up’ is a US vernacular. Interestingly, the term ‘push-up’ was first coined in 1905 while ‘press-up’ appeared in the British lexicon some forty-five years later. Thus, it is safe to assume that push-up is the original term for the exercise.

Both exercises refer to a strength-training that involves raising and lowering the body using the arms while facing down in a prone, horizontal position. Essentially, a press-up or a push-up is a moving plank. It’s the go-to exercise in boot camps, and even part of physical fitness tests in high school.

How to Perform a Proper Press-up or Push-up

  1. Begin with a prone position on the floor.
  2. Place your feet side by side and curl your toes towards your head so that the balls of your feet will touch the ground.
  3. Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart. (You can opt to close your hands and make a fist once you start performing the exercise. This technique will avoid wrist extension motion by making your bodyweight end up on your knuckles instead of your palms. You can also use a padded mat for a more convenient exercise.)
  4. Keep your abs tight to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet.
  5. Do not raise your butt in the air nor allow your back to sag to the floor.
  6. Breath in as you lower your torso to the floor. You don’t have to touch the floor with your chest, just form a 90° angle at your elbow joint.
  7. Keep your head in a neutral position, looking slightly above your hands.
  8. Breath out as you push yourself up using your arms. (The power for the push will come for your chest and shoulders. Make sure that you don’t feel a contraction in your triceps.)
  9. Continue the exercise until your arms are almost in a straight, unlocked position. (Do not bounce up and down but perform the exercise in a slow, deliberate manner. Each phase-both up and down- of the exercise should take a couple of seconds.)
  10. Repeat the raising and lowering action of the exercise until you reach your maximum limit.

This video describes the proper form on how to do a press up:

Tips on How to Improve Form

Form matters in a push-up to prevent injuries and maximize results. If you have a bad form when doing a push-up, you could get your wrists and elbows hurt. For a good push-up form, do not skip a single step mentioned above.

The best way to be conscious of your form is to execute the push-up in front of a mirror. Watch closely as you execute the exercise, and adjust as you go.

You can also go further by recording yourself and reviewing the record after every exercise. This way, you can always track your performance and it’s easier to trace your improvements. What’s more, you can let a coach or a friend re-watch your performance and ask for feedback.


Boot Camp and Military Fitness Institute
American Council on Exercise
Why Form Matters and How to Improve Yours