Can an exclusive workout of push ups chest exercises be the key to bringing your physique to the next level? If you've been hitting the gym with the same old routine for months and months with little improvement to show for it, chances are mixing things up just might be what you need.
Why It Might Work
Your muscles are designed to handle the workload you place on them. If you push them hard and demand more, they grow and get stronger. If you use them less, they shrink. This is hardly rocket science.
But let's take it one step further. If you always do so and so many sets and reps of bench press, so and so many sets and reps of pec deck flyes etc., you're not really pushing yourself out of the comfort zone. In fact, the muscles know exactly what to expect, and since they handled that workload just fine last week, well, why would they have to improve? Result: You've hit a plateau.
So, it's time to do something completely different for a change. You can cut all weights in half and go for super high reps, or you can go all heavy free weights followed by all-machines for a couple weeks. Or you can dedicate an entire workout to push ups chest exercises.
Basic Push Up And Variations
In its basic form, the push up is great for the entire chest, shoulder and tricep area. Keeping your body erect, hover facedown against the floor on your toes and hands. Feet should be together and your hands a little below shoulders, ie. your thumbs should be about on par with your lower chest. Keep your abs tense throughout and avoid sagging.
The execution is simple: Straighten your arms to propel yourself up as far as you'll go, then make a smooth turn and descend in a controlled manner until you're a few inches off the ground. You should feel a good stretch in your chest, but don't overdo it; purposefully stretching the shoulders puts unnecessary stress on the notoriously fragile shoulder joints.
Triangle Push Ups
Another simple but effective take on the same exercise is the triangle push up, where you put your thumbs and index fingers together. This forms a little triangle between your hands; do your sets with that triangle dead in the middle of your chest. Triangle push ups are great for putting extra burn in the triceps.
Wide Push Ups
Add a couple inches to each side and you'll feel more emphasis on the upper chest and shoulders. The movement gets a little shorter, but it's great for alternating with the much more narrow triangle push ups.
Jackknife Push Ups
Another great one for upper chest and shoulders. Move your feet closer to your hands so that your resembles an upside-down V and do the push ups as usual. Another take on the same angle is to put your feet up on a bench. Either way, make sure to keep your abs tense and your back straight throughout.
Push Up Sidestand
This is a regular push up, except between each rep you lift one arm straight up. At your top position, pause and move one foot over the other (ie. legs crossed) then lift your arm and twist so that one palm is against the floor and the other is facing the ceiling. Great for variation and overall balance, plus it involves a number of stabilizing muscles in your midsection.
Clapping Push Ups
A little more hardcore exercise is the push ups where you clap your hands together between each rep. That means you have to push yourself up into the air for a second. This is particularly good for breaking out of the rut, since your muscles are used to the slow and controlled motion of handling a barbell or machine. Here, you have to make a forceful acceleration, all in the name of keeping the muscles guessing.
Push Ups Chest Exercise Program
Finally, let's pull together a sample push ups chest exercise program using the components above:
- 10 min warm-up and stretching
- 2 sets basic push ups
- 2 sets triangle push ups
- 2 sets wide push ups
- 2 sets jackknife push ups
- 3 sets push up sidestands
- 2 sets clapping push ups
- 10 min cooldown and stretching
Each set is done to failure with about a minute of rest in-between. Good luck!