Fitness trainer doing eccentric press ups

Move of the week: eccentric press-ups help you add more reps to your set

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Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: eccentric press-ups. 

It’s true that, when it comes up to upper body exercises, not much can beat a press-up. But don’t be disheartened if you can’t bash out three rounds of 10: there’s a simple way to get all the benefits of press-ups while you’re still building your way up to a full rep. 

The best way to do that is with eccentric training - the method that puts the emphasis on the downward motion of the movement. Focusing on the lowering phase can help you strengthen your chest so you can build up to eventually pressing yourself off the floor. If you can already manage a full rep, eccentric press-ups are still hugely useful to your progression: slow down the lowering phase before pressing yourself off the floor for an extra challenge. 

What is an eccentric press up?

It’s a twist on a standard press-up that focuses on the lowering phase of the motion to really build that burn in your chest and arms. 

The exercise is great because:

It works your upper body: targeting your chest, shoulders, triceps and core muscles. 

It’s good for all levels: beginners can use them to work up to a full press-up and those who are more advanced can use them as an extra challenge.

It builds strength: eccentric training has been shown to create more muscle tears, which encourage muscle adaptation. 

What muscles do eccentric press-ups work?

An eccentric press-up mainly works into the upper body and core, including:

  • Pecs
  • Delts
  • Triceps
  • Transverse abdominals
  • Rectus abdominals 

How to do an eccentric press-up

  1. Begin in a high plank position with your wrists under your shoulders and legs extended straight behind you. 
  2. Make sure your back is neutral - don’t push your hips to the ceiling or let them sink to the floor. 
  3. Brace your core as you slowly bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor - try to make the lowering phase as slow as possible. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels as you lower down. 
  4. When your chest reaches the ground, either press back up as in a usual press-up or reset back to the starting position. 

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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