Push-ups are a staple of building a strong and effective chest routine. If you are traveling or don’t have access to gym equipment, or are just starting out and are working out from home, push-ups can offer you a great way to ramp up the difficulty, while targeting all of the areas of the pecs critical for muscle growth. Pushups can be effective for building muscle in the chest, triceps, and shoulders. However, it’s important to keep in mind that muscle growth also depends on other factors such as genetics, diet, and overall training volume. If you want to see muscle growth from doing pushups, it’s important to progressively increase the difficulty of your workouts by adding more reps, using variations such as narrow or wide grip pushups, or incorporating other exercises that target the same areas.
These 12 variations will give you a full chest workout, targeting all areas of the pecs, and leaving you feeling swole and sore after you’re done.
1. Val Slide Push-Up
This variation incorporates horizontal abduction which is the chest muscle’s primary role from an anatomical perspective.
2. Chest Squeeze Push-Up
You can hit your chest using a close grip with this variation. If you have a medicine ball, or basketball, use it as the point of contact for your hands.
3. Commando Push-Up Jack
The movement of changing your stance from narrow to wide helps target the chest from multiple angles.
4. Archer Push-Up
The archer push-up is part of the best push-up exercises for a better chest list because you can target each pec with more of your body weight each rep. It is almost like a supported one-arm push-up.
5. Staggered Plyometric Push-Up
A harder variation of the push-up that you should keep in mind if you’ve progressed past the point of a regular push-up. This will challenge your chest differently because each hand is placed either above or below the line of the shoulder, creating instability.
6. Platform Push-Up with Negative
You can use books, chairs, stairs or anything that is sturdy and elevated to perform this exercise. Get into a push-up position, and lower your body slowly for three seconds. You will be able to go lower than normally because of the elevated platform. Explode as fast as possible on the way up.
7. Decline Push-Up
This variation mimics the incline bench press which will target your upper chest.
There are many variations of the clap-up itself, but it basically means you will clap your hands after exploding up from a normal push-up. If you are unable to clap as of it, skip that part and simply practice explosive push-ups without clapping.
9. Wide Grip Push-Up
By placing your arms wider apart, you put yourself in a position that requires more horizontal abduction than a regular push-up. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the ground.
10. Spiderman Push-Ups
The spider-man push-up is great if clap-ups are difficult for you, but you still want to emphasize more work on your upper body. Simply bring a knee up when you are lowering your body until the knee almost touches the elbow and press back up. Change to the other side.
11. Knee-to-Elbow Push-Up
Very similar to the previous variation, but this time you will be bringing your knee to the elbow across your body. If you lift your left knee, bring it closer to your right elbow when lowering your body. This variation is also great to target your abs and obliques. Try and squeeze your obliques as you are bringing up your knee to elbow.
12. Pike Push-Up
The pike push-up is more of a shoulder exercise, but if you are on a raised platform (both feet and hands) you will also get a good stretch and tension on your upper chest.
There are other variations you can perform as well. One thing I like to do when I’m traveling and on the road, is to work in a “tempo” routine. In a tempo movement, rather than just go down down, then pushing up again, you use a tempo, or count, like 5 or 6 to lower yourself down, then push up again. For instance, when starting from a plank, you count to 5 when lowering yourself down into a low plank, or lower part of the pushup, hitting the bottom when you get to 5. Then, pause for a second, and start to go upward, again counting to 5 and hitting the top when you hit 5.
And those are the 12 best push-up exercises for a better chest according to Max Posternak. To see how to perform each of these movements, click on the video below.