Contrary to popular belief, push ups are equally as good for building pecs as the bench press. That’s all fine in theory, but how do you build big chest with push ups in practice? How should one structure their push up workout in order to maximise chest muscle gains? What push up variations are the best for building pecs?
First and foremost, you’ll need to know how to build push ups. As in the case in most resistance training exercises, a good push up form is more important than churning out ‘half-reps’, so make sure your core, delts and pecs are all engaged when performing press ups. Slow, controlled reps are key to build muscle effectively.
Ready to soak up some push up knowledge? Here are the best push up workout advice we can provide that will get you to broad chest heaven sooner.
Push up tip #1: do more reps
When performing resistance training with the best home weights, you want to stay within the ‘hypertrophy range’ which is between 8-12 reps per set. This is said to be the best build increase muscle mass, as opposed to a lower rep range that build strength and a higher rep range that build muscle endurance.
That said, bodyweight training is a bit different, especially push ups. Once you can do 10-12 push ups, if you stay in this range going forward, you won’t see results anytime soon, or ever. Doing 20-30 or even more reps per set is advised to increase resistance and stimulate the pecs more.
Push up tip #2: wear a weighted vest
No need to increase the rep range if you add resistance to your push ups. Wearing a weighted vest in one way to add resistance to your push ups. Most vests come with detachable weights so you can adjust the amount resistance and follow a progressive overload pattern in your push up training.
Adidas Weighted Vest | Buy it for £76.73 at Amazon
Add extra resistance to your push ups using the Adidas Weighted Vest. Also ideal for runners, the Adidas Weighted Vest is constructed from highly durable material so it will last for longer. There are eight weight packs on the vest, totalling 10 kg, placed around the upper body to ensure correct balance. These weight packs can be individually removed to drop resistance levels.View Deal
Push up tip #3: add elevation
If you want to keep the training as minimal as possible and don’t want to invest in the best home gym equipment, you can add more resistance by elevating your legs off the floor. The higher up the legs, the harder the push ups will be. You can gradually increase resistance by increasing the legs higher and higher as you progress.
It is worth mentioning that at some point, as you elevate the leg further and further up, you will end up working your shoulders more and the pecs less. Handstand push ups work the pecs very little but are excellent for the delts and the triceps.
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When it comes to elevation, nothing beats a solid plyo box. For the untrainer eye, it might just look like a wooden box but plyo boxes are sturdy enough to withstand people jumping on them thousands of times. The Sterling’s new material has the added benefit of being water-resistant so feel free to sweat on it if you must!View Deal
Push up tip #4: use resistance bands
Especially at the apex of the push up movement, you might find it less challenging to hold this pose. Resistance bands provide the most resistance when your arms are extended and as long as you don’t lock your elbows, the band’s resistance will work the triceps beautifully too. Even the best resistance bands are pretty cheap and can be stored wherever, ideal for smaller living spaces.
Mirafit Resistance Bands | Prices from £8.95 at Mirafit
Most people associate workout bands with pilates bands : pilates bands are softer and are often used for stretching only. On the other hand, the Mirafit resistance bands were designed for resistance training and therefore require a lot more effort to pull/push. There are six different resistance options with the thickest band generating as much as 230 lbs (104 kg) of resistance! Not for the faint hearted.View Deal
Push up tip #5: look after your wrists
One of the complaints most often brought up about push ups is that it it kills the wrists and indeed, that’s certainly a disadvantage over bench press. The way the hands are placed is important and so is to warm up the joints before you get down on the floor.
If you are happy to invest a little, we recommend getting a push up handle or a couple of parallettes to give your wrists a break. Using these, your hands take on a similar pose as if you were doing bench press, which is way better for wrist health. And much like resistance bands, push up handles are cheap and take up very little space.
Perfect Fitness V2 Pushup Handles | Buy it for £29.99 at Amazon
Push up handles – not to be confused with love handles – can reduce some of the stress your wrists are undergoing during push ups by keeping them in a neutral position. The Perfect Fitness V2 Pushup Handles feature a steel-ball bearing system, making them more durable than other models. View Deal