Best exercises ever #1: press-ups

Hi guys
I'm back from holiday and when I got on the scales this morning, I was pleased (and slightly relieved) to see that I hadn't gained too much weight. I was relieved because I know you lot would have been screaming "hypocrite" at me if I'd returned carrying an extra stone!
While I was away, I still did a few exercises to keep myself going. There was no gym at the hotel so I had to do some proper old-school stuff. And one of the best exercises to do is a real old favourite; the press-up.
When performed correctly, the press-up is probably the single best exercise around. That's right - no fancy gym equipment necessary - you can do it at home, in a hotel or in a bit of floor space at the gym.
So why is the press-up so effective? Because it's the ultimate compound exercise. A compound exercise works several muscles or muscle groups all at the same time. And by doing compound exercises, you get the following benefits: 

  • you burn more calories - because you're engaging more muscle groups
  • your heart rate stays higher for longer - meaning you get a cardio workout too
  • you can build up your strength faster
  • your co-ordination and balance improve
  • you can exercise for longer - because you're spreading the effort around rather than exhausting one single muscle

Press-ups works muscles in the chest, shoulders, triceps, back and even your core. Include them in any workout you're doing and it will help you get better, more visible results. Guys will fill out their t-shirts more and girls will have more toned arms to show off as the summer comes.
There are loads of variations you can try:  

  1. bent-knee - for people new to exercise, this involves balancing on your knees rather than your toes, so you've got more support.
  2. incline - again this is primarily for newcomers and involves doing a press-up with your hands resting on a raised surface such as a bench, or a strong chair.
  3. wide-grip - this works the muscles of the chest (pectorals) harder, so their strength increases and you see more definition.
  4. close-grip - put your hands underneath your chest and place them together in a diamond shape, so that your index fingers are touching. This will work the triceps harder.
  5. decline - by placing your feet on a raised surface such as a bench, table or chair you make the exercise more difficult and also work the upper chest harder.
  6. clap press-ups - for more experienced trainers, explode upwards so your hands are off the floor and clap your in mid-air before they land again. Be careful with this one and only try it once you've mastered the others.

 Try some of them out and give me a shout if you need any advice.
Take it easy

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