Push ups are one of the very best exercises out there for building big pecs and for improving your ‘strength-to-weight-ratio’. Because you’re using your own bodyweight, this is a move that can be performed absolutely anywhere and that you can use to increase your agility and your command over your own body.
As you might have guessed, these are desirable things. And if you incorporate push ups into your training then they can help to give you truly explosive upper body strength and to feel light and powerful like a coiled spring.
Push ups are often recommended for beginners too, because they provide such a simple move that can be used anywhere and that can really help the average Joe to start quickly packing on muscle.
Where You’re Going Wrong
But while this is all true, it’s also important that you consider the limitations of the push up. If you’re performing press ups and you’re no longer a beginner in the gym, chances are that you’re aren’t getting the very most from them.
We’re all told to keep performing push ups and that they’re the bedrock of any good pec workout – but in reality they just aren’t tough enough for most of us. If you’re in the gym bench presses 120KG but you only weigh 80KG, then perhaps you can see the problem.
This then results in a situation where you have people performing 50 or even 100 press ups in each set and that’s just simply a waste of time and energy.
Sure, super long ‘flush sets’ like this can be useful for getting pump and they may lead to some decent growth. But there are much better ways to accomplish the same thing that don’t take ages and burn tons of calories in the process. And if your aim is to build strength, to create microtears and to bodybuild – then it’s unfortunately just not going to happen.
How to Fix It
This is why Brendan Myers suggests something that some people may actually find quite surprising. He states that he will never do a straight push up any more.
Instead, every single one of his push ups now are in fact some kind of variation on the regular push up. That might mean that he does one armed push ups, that he does typewriter push ups, that he claps his hands behind his back, that he uses a medicine ball… You name it. At the end of the day though, he just doesn’t see regular old push ups as being useful for him anymore.
If you want to really challenge your pecs, then you need to either increase the acceleration of the muscle (by using plyometrics) or to isolate one pec slightly more. On top of this, Brendan recommends using supersets or drop sets that will help to make the sets much more intense for the pecs in particular.
This way, you’re now really hitting the pecs hard again and using rep ranges more similar to what you might use with weights in the gym (6-8). After your superset, rest for 1 minute to allow full recovery and maximum output.
THIS is how most of us should be performing press ups and this is how you can use them to build a truly ripped and sculpted chest.