If your 2016 goal is to nail a perfect push-up then doing them on your knees might not be the best way forward. According to trainer Nick Cheadle getting your chest, back and arms stronger to press your body weight is better achieved with your hands on a bench.

“With your hands placed on a raised surface like a bench, step or ledge, you’re able to activate your core and posterior chain in a way that better prepares you for the full push-up,” Cheadle explains. “By using a bench you’re practicing stabilising your entire body which is what you need to perform a good, full push-up.”

When we perform push-ups on our knees we take our back and our legs out of the movement, this doesn’t mean your knee push-ups are a waste of time (they’re still a killer move) but if a real push-up is your goal, there is a better way to get there.

“Try squeezing your bottom muscles in a knee push-up position, it’s almost impossible,” says Cheadle. “But a full push-up isn’t just about the arms and chest, it’s a full body exercise that requires leg, core and back strength to perform properly.”

If you want to progress to full push-ups then start with your hands on a bench. Once you’ve mastered that, try lifting a leg and performing a push-up to make things a little trickier. If you want to add an extra core challenge (and impress your friends), then try this modified move to strengthen all the muscles for the full push-up.

How to nail the move:
  • Place your hands on a bench just wider than shoulder width with your index fingers facing forward.
  • Lifting your left leg, engage your core to keep a straight back.
  • Lower your chest to the bench, making sure to look forward to maintain a neutral neck position.
  • Let your chest gently touch the bench on each repetition.
  • At the top of the move, crunch your leg in as close to your chest as you can. Don’t be worried about rounding your back a little as you crunch.