Whenever I hear someone talking about increasing their upper body strength the first thing they talk about is doing bench presses. I won’t knock bench presses, they do work but what so many of us underestimate is the power of a good push ups routine and how it can build mass in the chest, strong shoulders and a great set of obliques. Not only that but your bench press will very likely start seeing some gains.
Why You Need To Do More Push Ups
It is easy to think of push ups as a beginner’s exercise. When we think of a push up we immediately start having flashbacks to gym class. This is not entirely bad, in fact sometimes it is a good idea to go back to basics if we want to move forward and blast through a plateau.
Here some benefits to doing pushups routines:
- Is excellent in developing triceps muscles
- Develops the entire chest/pectoral region
- Works the entire shoulder/delt region
- Helps with upper back development
- Develops the obliques and serratus muscles
This exercise is an overall excellent upper body exercise as opposed to other chest exercises which only work on the pecs and slightly less on the triceps.
I know for many of us it is a challenge doing more than a couple of reps on push ups. If you want to learn how to increase your number of pushups I recommend an article by Jason Ferrugia of Muscle Gaining Secrets titled, “How To Do More Push Ups.” This will get you on your way to increasing your number of reps in a short period of time.
But This Exercise Is Boring
Unfortunately lifting heavy weights with a barbell or dumbbells has been glamorized as being the only way to gain muscle. However, using bodyweight exercises are also a great way to put on mass. Don’t believe me, look at a gymnast body.
Often when we picture a push up we think of the standard technique where the hands are placed on the ground straight down at shoulder level and the legs extended. Well, if you want to add excitement to this exercise you can easily spice it up.
Push Ups Routine Using Different Variations
- Traditional Push Up: This is the typical version of the exercise we all have grown to love or hate. The easier version is done with the knees down.
Triangle Push Up: This exercise takes the stress away from the delts and pecs and targets the triceps muscles. The exercise is done by making the symbol of a diamond with your hands and performing a push up. The hands should meet the upper body at the middle chest level.
- Decline Push Up: This version of the exercise is excellent for building upper chest development and even though it is not as popular it is a great addition to any chest workout. Simply place your feet up on a bench, step or ball and lower your body the way you would with a traditional version of the exercise.
- Wide Stance Push Ups: If you want to put more emphasis on the delts and outer chest this is the way to go. The hands are placed at a slightly wider position than the traditional version of the exercise.
These 4 exercises combined make a good chest workout. For best results do 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Make Your Push Ups Explosive For Maximum Gains
In order to have an athletic body it is important to train your body in a way that triggers your fast twitch muscles. The best way to trigger fast twitch muscles is by performing explosive exercises in a quick manner.
Here is a more advanced workout:
- Uneven Medicine Ball Push Ups: Place one hand on a medicine ball (a basketball, soccer ball or volleyball can be used instead) and the other hand on the floor. Lower your body in to a push up and come up. Shift the ball to the other hand and repeat the movement. This is one repetition.
- Medicine Ball Push Ups: Place both hands on the ball and lower your body like the uneven version. Lower your body slowly and come up quickly. The close handed grip will target the triceps.
- Explosive Push Ups: Place two stacks of aerobics step ups on each side parallel to each other. Place a hand on each stack and lower your body, come up and drop to the floor. When you come down do a second push up and without stopping push yourself in an explosive motion and land on the stacks again. If you do not have access to a stack simply do clapping push ups.
You can perform the three exercises consecutively without rest. When you reach the final exercise rest for one minute and repeat the sequence. You can also do each exercise individually and rest 30 to 60 seconds between exercises.
Do 3 to 4 sets of 10 repetitions or as many as you can do per exercise without exceeding 10 reps.
The advanced workout I have outlined is quite difficult but is an excellent upper body workout that will work your chest, back, triceps and shoulders. This workout is excellent as it incorporates plyometrics for muscle gaining and fat loss benefits.
By applying this push ups routine you will see yourself looking like an athlete, seeing muscle gains and having strength gains. This is a huge switch from barbell or dumbbell workouts but your muscles will love the results.