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best chest exercises

When it comes to chest exercises, nothing beats the push-up for all-around efficiency, convenience, and results.

While primarily targeting the chest (pectorals), this compound body-only exercise also works the shoulders and triceps area. No wonder serious athletes and muscle-building beginners alike enthusiastically integrate it into their workout routines.

5 Ways to Power Up Your Push Up Game

ways to do pushups

The Classic Push-up Technique

  1. Lie on a flat surface face down and place your hands roughly shoulder length apart while holding your torso up at full arm’s length.
  2. Lower yourself down until your chest just misses the floor as you inhale.
  3. Breathe out and press the upper body back up to the start position while squeezing your chest in.
  4. Briefly wait at the top (contracted) position; lower yourself down again and repeat for a set number or until failure.

Push-ups are tailor-made for busy people looking for a robust physical exercise routine that does not compromise their schedules. For example, if your job involves regular travel that makes hitting the gym tough, push-ups can be an integral part of a varied, “no equipment” workout that can be performed right in your hotel room.

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In some cases, it may be difficult to budget for gym memberships or home fitness equipment. Fortunately, performing push-ups come with no strings or cost attached.

Just find some clean floor space at home and you are good to go!

Sure, the push-up may look boring and ineffective to some. However, there are ways to spruce things up once you get beyond the beginner’s stage:

Alternative Push-Up Techniques

Fingertip Push-Up à la Bruce Lee

Instead of classical “flat palm” positioning, try supporting yourself with your fingers when performing your push-ups. Along with working the chest, it will translate into better grip strength for your fingers, so crucial for optimal resistance training.

Narrow Grip (Narrow Width) Push-Up

To really test your chest muscles and shoulders, narrow the distance between your arms and see how many you can do to before failure.

Elevated Push-Up

Using a flat bench, exercise ball, or stack of Yellow Pages (are those still around?), you can add a higher level of resistance and/or instability to your push-up sets. By altering your center of gravity, the upper chest is easily targeted.

Scapula Push-Up

The scapula, i.e. shoulder blade connects the humerus (arm bone) with the clavicle (collarbone). Obviously, then, a targeted scapula push-up can do wonders for upper body strength. It is an excellent warm-up exercise for injury prevention and shoulder health. However, do not sag your hips or back when performing it, since this can lead to acute shoulder pain.

There are also one-armed push-ups (remember Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky”, or Jack Palance’s Oscar acceptance speech?) and clapping push-ups if you are really up for a fast twitch muscle fiber challenge.

Who Said Push-Ups Were Boring?

Often overlooked by machine-dependent bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, the push-up can be the foundation for advanced muscle-building and sports-specific exercises down the road. In many ways, it is the ideal pushing exercise for men (and women) who have disdain for high-tech equipment and are turned off by fast-talking trainers.

In my opinion, the push-up is one of the most powerful and underrated chest building exercises.


Chris Cannon
Chris Cannon

Hey Chris Cannon here, founder of Free Muscle Building Tips. I hope you enjoyed this post. If you haven't done so already be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and get your free Six Pack Abs Secret Weapon Workout!