Bench pressing 225 off your chest is a sure sign that your balls have dropped and you are now a man. Hence, why every bro in the world can be seen bench pressing on International Chest Day aka Monday.
This is not a post trying to call out the bench press. I love to bench but as of late I have been doing a ton of push-up variations and never have I ever seen the growth in my chest than in the last couple of months.
I get it, push-ups are about as exciting as a handjob and you sir have an experienced the real deal by bench pressing four plates, high five!
Push-ups can still be a mighty tool, with the right tweaks, in adding more muscle on your chest as well as aiding in your strength gains.
You don’t need to hammer out hundreds of reps of push-ups either to see the benefits or the gains. When you add the tweaks I talk about below, not only will you see gains, or should I say feel the gains in the chest, but you will also add some mass to your triceps.
- Weighted Push-Ups
When doing a push-up, you are essentially pushing your entire body weight up from the ground. If you weigh 185 pounds that means you are pressing 185 pounds off the ground. Add a 35-pound plate to that and you are pressing 220 pounds off the ground. Sounds easy if you have benched 225, but somehow it will leave you feeling more busted than 6 reps of 225.
Think of it this way, when doing a push-up you have to resist gravity with your entire bodyweight, but when you bench press all you have to resist is the external weight on the bar.
For your body to remain in the push-up position you have to engage your back muscles, core, neck, shoulders, hands, glutes, and down to your feet. You are using more muscles in your body to push your weight off the ground and fight gravity than when you bench press. This means more calories burned, more muscles worked, and more gains.
- Paused Extended Range of Motion Push-Ups on Handles
Les Paul, the creator of the greatest guitars known to man, once said that what made music great was not the riffs or the notes but the silence in between the notes, where no sound was made.
Pauses can be extremely powerful in all art forms. In regards to the gym, pausing at the bottom portion of a lift can help build more strength and add on slabs of sweet sexy lean muscle.
Adding a brief pause, anywhere from 3-5 seconds, at the bottom of a push-up (or weighted push-up) can ignite a fire in your chest hotter than the fires of Mordor and will leave your chest swole for hours.
To add a little tweak to paused push-ups, grab a pair of push-up handles or dumbbells if your gym doesn’t have push-up handles but pick heavy ones that have some height to them on the ground.
With your hand elevated on the dumbbells, lower yourself down as close to the floor as possible, just as you would in a proper push-up, pause for a 5-second count and explode back up.
Even though the handles are only a few inches high this small height difference provides a larger range of motion for your chest. More range of motion means more strain on the muscles which leads to increases in strength and hypertrophy (the fancy science word for gains)
- One Hand Elevated Push-Ups
Similar to the push-ups above done on handles or dumbbells, these push-ups require that you use a kettlebell or a small dumbbell. Except this time one hand is on the kettlebell and one hand is on the floor.
If you want to get a sweet pump and burn this is the variation for you.
Watch the video below for more.
We all love to bench press but if you are stuck in a rut or find that you are having shoulder issues, rack the bar and step away from the bench and give the bench a break. If you add in weight push-ups and the other two variations as well you won’t lose strength or your sweet manly chesticles, hell you might even like me add an inch or so to your chest and triceps and then when you get back to benching you might even see that plateau quickly erased.