Get off the Bench for a Better Chest Workout

The classic bench press is a great exercise for building chest muscles, but always repeating the same exercises only targets the same area again and again. To get better results you need to mix it up.

While there are many great chest workouts that involve free weights or high-end machines, you really don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to get great results. Believe it or not, classic pushups are not only one the best exercises for building solid chest muscles they’re also one of the most versatile.

Pushups are easily adaptable for both beginners and advanced bodybuilding enthusiasts, and with only a few modifications you can work your entire chest. But best of all, you can do them just about anywhere.

Start with the classic

Classic pushups are a great way to build muscle, but maintaining proper form can have a big impact on your results. Before you incorporate any modified versions into your workout, be sure you’ve mastered the basic technique.

Proper form

Start with your hands on the ground just slightly further than shoulders’ width apart. Straighten your arms and stretch your legs out with your toes pointing downward. Your feet can be as far apart or close together as you like, but your weight should be balanced on the palms of your hands and your toes.

Keep your entire body in a straight line, with your chin toward the ground and your eyes forward. Beginners can slightly modify this technique by keeping their knees on the ground.

One rep at a time

From the starting position, brace your abs to keep your body in a straight line and steadily lower yourself by bending your elbows. Your elbows should remain close to your body and your legs should remain straight.

While there’s no exact measure for how low you should go, keep your distance the same for every rep so you can accurately assess your progress. For example, stop when your arm bends to a 90-degree angle or when your chest touches the ground.

Hold that position for a second or two then raise yourself back up to the starting position.

To get the best results, make sure you’re in control of your movements and not flopping to the ground on every rep. Even if you can only do one or two complete pushups at first, maintaining good form will help you get stronger faster.

Take it to the next level

After you’ve mastered the classic pushup technique, you can incorporate various modifications to work different areas of the chest.

For both the classic version as well as any of these variations, keeping your hands further apart than your shoulders will work the outer chest muscles, while keeping them at shoulders’ width will work the inner chest muscles. If your hands are closer than shoulders’ width, you’ll be working more on your triceps.

Staggered pushup – more challenging, as they target one side of the chest at a time

From the classic starting position, place one hand a few inches more forward than the other. Perform pushups using the classic form, but be sure to alternate hands between sets.

Single leg pushup – works your chest muscles and engages your core

From the classic starting position, lift one foot just a few inches off of the ground. Perform pushups using the classic form, but alternate legs between sets.

Plyometric pushup – activates the fast-twitch muscles in your chest

From the classic starting position, begin pushup by lowering yourself using the classic form. But instead of rising slowly, push up from the ground in one explosive movement, using enough force to lift your hands off of the ground.

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