This week I will be covering another Gym Test, the press-ups. From how you will be expected to perform them, various methods to improve the number of repetitions you can correctly perform and routines to ensure strict form is maintained throughout the exercise. This will help with perfecting your technique to build the correct “muscle memory.”
How the Press Up Test is Done
The press-up test is done via a single bleep. The maximum score (the score you should be aiming for) is 60 press-ups to 60 timed bleeps. Another PRMC candidate will be used for this test. He will place his fist on the floor under your chest. He will count the number of times your chest successfully touches his fist.
When practising press-up’s by yourself use a brick, stack of books or anything the height of a fist under your chest. Then you know the depth you will be required to lower down to and your body becomes conditioned to that exact depth building ‘muscle memory’.
It is worth noting that the PTI’s will be watching each individual candidate like a hawk. Not only to ensure the candidate with his fist on the floor is counting correctly but ensuring every single repetition you complete is performed with strict form. If it isn’t, repetitions will be discounted for poor technique.
Before you begin the test itself you could be asked to perform a number of press-ups for the PTI to critique. It’s worth practising the correct way you will be expected to perform them, making it easier for yourself on the day.
Royal Marines Press Ups – Correct Technique
The correct technique to perform press-up’s for the test is, to begin with, your hands shoulder-width apart, completely straight arms and straight body from shoulder to hip to knee to ankle, imagine a long ruler or piece of wood running straight down the middle of your back and extending out over your head and ankles.
When you bend the arms to lower your body they should bend at the elbow but not flare out from the sides of the body. A completely straight press-up position must be maintained throughout the test. If your hips or back sag, your knees drop down to the floor or you do not fully lock your arms out at the top of each repetition you will be asked to stop.
Remember that “perfect practice makes perfect”, so before you attend your PRMC, practice the correct technique and this will naturally and automatically be committed to “muscle memory” – your bodies muscles learning and being conditioned on how to do something precisely and performing that exact exercise when required.
You should be aiming to achieve at least 45 press-ups whilst maintaining a completely straight body throughout, locking-out your arms at the top and ensuring your arms don’t flare out from the sides of your body. Before I begin explaining progressive exercises to improve the number of repetitions you can strictly perform, I’d like to cover an exercise to help improve your core strength which will aid you to maintain that all-important completely straight body from shoulder to hip to knee to ankle and consequently allow you to complete more repetitions overall.
Your hands should be shoulder width apart, completely straight arms and ensure your body is completely straight from shoulder to hip to knee to ankle. Hold this solid position for as long as possible without allowing your hips or back to sag. Monitor yourself in a mirror to watch your form and correct yourself to begin building “muscle memory”.
Get Help With Your Form
If you don’t have the use of a mirror ask someone to watch you or utilise a camera or smartphone to record yourself and watch it after to see where you began to break strict form. Practice this exercise daily and time yourself each time you do. To improve your press-up repetitions you need to practice-practice-practice (remembering “perfect practice makes perfect” and begins building that all important “muscle memory”).
After perfecting your body’s straight-line position, the first thing to do is to set yourself a benchmark in which to work from. Strive to beat this each week. You should aim to perform 1 press-up every second, however, ensure they are done in a controlled manner with the correct technique. Adopt the press-up position with an object under your chest the same height as a fist (as mentioned earlier) and with perfect form under control perform as many press-ups as possible until failure, i.e are unable to sustain correct form (not locking out the arms at the top of each repetition, elbows flare out from the sides of the body, hips or back sags or knees drop to the floor).
Now make a note of the number of press-ups you did (on your phone or a piece of paper) and every time you challenge yourself and max-out each week have that piece of paper or your phone in front of you as a reminder and incentive of what you’re aiming to beat.
“On the minute every minute” – Perform a set of press-ups (start with 10 repetitions) on the minute every minute for 10 rounds. Start a stopwatch and immediately start your first set (10 repetitions) of press-ups. Perform them strictly with correct form. When you finish your first set of press-ups put your knees down and rest until the stopwatch shows 1 minute, then perform your second set (10 repetitions) of press-ups with the same perfect form.
When you finish your second set place your knees down and rest until your stopwatch shows 2 minutes and again perform another set of press-ups for the third time. Continue to repeat this pattern until you have performed 10 sets in total or you can no longer continue with perfect form, remembering “don’t cheat yourself”.
Keep a Record of Your Progress
If you fail to complete 10 sets, just make a note of how many sets you successfully managed (e.g 7 sets) and next time aim to complete 8 sets. There are two progressions to this routine; You can increase the number of sets you perform on the minute every minute (e.g 11 sets, 12 sets, 13 sets etc) and keep the number of repetitions the same, or the other method of progressing this exercise is by adding more repetitions you perform on the minute every minute to the 10 sets (e.g 11 Reps, 12 Reps, 13 Reps etc).
With the latter progression, you will have less time in-between sets to recover due to the increased repetitions taking more time to complete, however, the overall time of the press-up session does not increase as you are still only doing 10 sets of press-ups on the minute every minute. If you find 10 press-up’s for 10 sets is far too challenging for you currently you can always start with a regressive alternative by doing 6, 7, 8 or 9 press-up’s for 10 sets on the minute every minute and continue your progressions from there. Practicing this routine 4-5 times a week is advisable to maintain consistent progressions.
Negative press-ups are a great way to build “muscle memory”, core strength and ensure you maintain correct form whilst performing press-ups in a slow and controlled manner. Adopt the press-up position and count yourself down from 5 whilst lowering your body to the correct chest height. Once your chest touches the object you have used, drive straight back up straightening your arms at the top and perform another repetition with the same strict form. Perform as many repetitions as possible until you can no longer lower your body over 5 seconds or you cannot hold your body in a completely straight line without any sagging of the knees, hips or back. You should perform this routine at least twice a week. Weighted Press-Ups.
This exercise is fantastic at increasing the strength in your chest, shoulders, triceps and core muscles, all of which are required to perform multiple repetitions of strict press-ups. You can add weight to yourself via the use of a weight vest, Olympic plates, a sandbag or anything suitable that will be stable enough laying on your back and staying in position whilst you perform press-ups. Again, always focus on correct/strict form instead of adding more weight to an already incorrectly performed technique. I would suggest adding this exercise to your workout at least once a week.
Remember guys, “Nothing Just Happens”, so work hard. Train specifically for the exercise you want to get better at and keep those progressing coming. Challenge yourself at least once a week maxing-out on press-ups. Perform them with the strict technique that you will be expected to complete them on “the day of the race”.