You may have heard both of these terms being banded around in the fitness industry, but what’s the difference? Is there one? The short answer is no. ‘Press-Up’ is the British term for the movement whereas ‘Push-Up’ is the American term. Interestingly, the term ‘push-up’ was first used between 1905 and 1910 whilst ‘press-up’ was first used much later between 1945 and 1950. Because of this, we can assume that push-up is the original term for the movement.
Both terms refer to the act of facing the floor with a straight back and legs, similar to a plank position, and then slowly lowering yourself to the floor before pushing back up. It’s an extremely common and possibly the most widely used bodyweight movement for the upper body, which has gained its notoriety for being to work the muscles on the front of the upper torso without any equipment.
You can think of the press-up as the bodyweight version of the bench press. However, it trains the core harder as the muscles in the trunk have to stop the pelvis from dropping to the floor.
Another reason why the press up is so popular is that it can be easily altered to work different areas of the body. For instance, moving the hands closer together into a diamond position will hit the triceps harder, whilst moving the hands slightly wider than shoulder width will hit the shoulders and chest to a greater degree. You can also elevate the legs to work on the upper pecs or lean against an elevated surface to make the movement easier. Many people also rest their knees against the floor to shorten the leverage and therefore, make the movement easier, too.
Guiness World Records documented the first record for push-ups way back in 1965 when Charles Linster completed 6,006 push-ups non-stop. This was then broken by Japanese Minoru Yoshida in 1980 with 10,507 push-ups.
Since Charles Linster set the first record, the most push-ups to be completed in a row is one of the most popular Guiness World Records. This also started a separate category for the most push-ups completed in 24 hours with the current world record sitting at an impressive 46,001 in just over 21 hours back in 1993.
In short, the press-up and the push-up are the exact same movement and are extremely good for developing upper body and core strength without any equipment.