If you don’t think you can grow a big chest by just using push-ups, then i’m about to prove your wrong. First we’re going to do a test to determine your current push-up level, then we’re going to go through how to pick the right push-up variations based on that and then complete it with two key exercises to speed up your gains.
First, let me tell you how we use science to make this routine so effective at growing your chest. So, 2018 study had a group of male subject trained three times a week using either the bench press or using push-ups. The bench press group simply increased the weight as it got stronger. Whereas the push-ups group used 10 push-up variations that range from easiest to most difficult. Once the subjects mastered one variation they moved on to the next one to continue improving their strength over time. After four weeks the push-ups group managed to increase their overall upper body strength as much as the group using the bench press did.
Other studies that analyze muscle growth show similar results. And to indicate that with the right push-up progressions you can build comparable size and strength as you would with a weighted exercise like the bench press.
We’re going to implement this in our routine by having you train three times a week with the appropriate push-ups variations based on your current level of strength. In addition to this we’ll apply a special method of training to further boost your gains. This method’s effectiveness was recently tested on a group of 18 power lifters. The participants trained three days per week with each day using a slightly different style of training.
On day one they performed an easier workout focused on. just getting some skill practice in with their exercises. On day two they performed a heavy workout focused on improving their strength. Then on day three they performed a muscular endurance workout focused on improving how many reps they could do in a row.
These three style of training challenge their muscles in different ways and proved to be extremely effective. Increasing their upper body strength over three times as fast as traditional methods. We’re going to replicate the same approach into your three weekly workout by using a skill day, a strength day, and a muscular endurance day. Each filled with the right accessory exercises for that day.
Step 1 (Asses Your Current Push-up Level)
So, to do a normal push-up your muscles need the strength to be able to lift about 70% of your weight. This is why we’re going to first determine your push-up level to know which exercises are best fitting for you. So, first warm-up, if you’re able to do push-up this is where you want to do a few sets of 2-3 push-ups just to get your body warmed up. If that’s too difficult then you can do wall push-ups instead.
After your warm-up rest for about two to three minutes before the push-up test. For the test only good form counts, if your hips are sagging you’re not going all the way down or all the way up or your elbows are flaring out to the sides then those reps that just don’t count. Each rep should be controlled with your body remaining in a straight line. Nose almost touching the ground on the way down arms fully locked out at the top and the elbows tucked to about 45 degrees away from your side. When you’re ready drop down and do as many push-ups as you can, note down how many you get and see which level you fall under.
Level one is if you got between 1 to 10 push-ups, Level two is if got between 11 to 30 push-ups, Level three is if you got more than 30 push-ups.
Step 2 (Learn The Push-up Variations For Your Level)
Now, it’s time to actually go through your workouts starting with day one. But, Make sure to pay attention to each exercise that i go through as many of them will be used in multiple levels and you’ll using them as you graduate through each level. So, for those in the one to ten group we’ll use an exercise that will require you to lift less of your body weight, Making it easier for you to do.
Find any kind of elevated platform like a couch or table and place your hands on it. the higher that platform is the easier this move will be so, choose an appropriate height and lower it over time as get stronger. Simply perform you push-ups on that platform and use a height that allows you get three sets of six to eight reps.
For those in the 11 to 30 group take the number of push-ups you can do in a row and take 70% of that. So, for example if you could do 16 in a row 70 of that would be roughly 11. You’re going to do three sets of that number using just normal push-ups.
For those in the 30 plus group, you’re going to use a slightly harder variation called hand release push-ups. So in normal push-ups at the bottom position after your descent something called stretch shortening reflex kicks in that gives you muscles more strength on the way back up. We’re gonna take this reflex away to create a greater demand on your muscles, Which will in turn make normal push-ups much easier. To perform it get into a normal push-up setup slowly come all the way down until your chest is resting on the ground take you hands off the ground place them back and then continue a normal push-ups. For this exercise we’re going to aim for three sets of half the number of what your max push-ups are.
Now, Let’s move on to day 2 your strength there, so for the one to ten group you’re going to use a variation that’s focused specifically on the downward portion of the push-up. This has been found to be a unique way to quickly improve strength and a method that we use frequently in my built with science programs because of its effectiveness. To perform it start at the top of a push-up position and then lower yourself as slowly as you can towards the ground. Once you reach the ground set back up to the top and repeat try to slow down more and more as you get stronger over time. We’re going to do five sets of just one rep this variation.
For the 11 to 30 group for strength you’re going to do the hand release push-ups that we mentioned earlier. For the 30 plus group we’ll want to do a variation that makes you lift more weight than you would with normal push-ups. To perform it you’re gonna start in a normal push-up position but come down to one hand instead of straight down. This shifts more of your body weight to one arm to increase the difficulty, Push back up using that one hand and then switch to the other hand for the next rep. We’re gonna do three sets of 50% of your max number of push-ups.
For the day three all groups are going to do something called E-MOM push-ups, this stands for every minute on the minute. This variation involves short bursts of effort followed by minimal rest. This allows you to get a lot of reps in to build up your endurance without letting your body completely fatigue, they’re tough but very effective.
To perform it take 50% of your max push-ups number, then using a timer every minute for a total of five minutes you’re going to perform that number of push-ups. So, if you had 20 as your max number push-ups you’d aim to do 10 push-ups every minute to get a total of 50 push-ups. If however you finish that and it was too easy then simply increase your goal push-ups for each minute.
Step 3 (Utilize Accessory Movements)
Now, It’s time to finish off your routine by adding two key movements that will strengthen the various other muscles you’ll need to speed up your push-up gains. So, the push-up is actually just a plank that is moving up and down. Which requires your core muscles to be strong enough to do so. If they’re not your lower back will arch or your hips will pike up. This exercise will focus on strengthening these core muscles while integrating your shoulders, your triceps and your chest muscles as well.
To perform it get into the top of a push-up position, placing your feet together will make this movement harder so start out with your feet spread out. Brace your core and fully extend your legs, then for 30 seconds while keeping your body as stable as possible and without sagging your hips from one side to the other lift one hand to tap your opposite shoulder and then switch to the other hand. Slower tabs are going to place a greater demand on the core and muscles of the arm. So, take it slow rather than just trying to do as many taps as you can.
The last exercise will add more volume to your routine while improving your push-ups power by focusing more on the triceps. To perform it you’ll do a standard push-ups but with your hands placed closer together at about shoulder-width apart. Based on your strength level you can do these on an incline to make it easier or on a decline to make it more difficult. You’ll do two sets of these and take each set to failure to the point where you can’t do any more reps. So, this routine is a lot of volume for your chest and triceps and should replace all then chest and triceps exercises that you’re currently doing.
After starting the routine every couple weeks i want you to retest how many push-ups you can do in a row. Once you graduate from one level switch over your routine to the next level.