The first push-up variation that I want to show you is the valslide push-up. For this exercise you don’t need any equipment at all, but furniture movers really do help.
Luckily, if you don’t have them this exercise works just as well with paper plates.
I love this exercise because it really helps you incorporate horizontal abduction. This is the chest muscles’ primary role from an anatomical perspective.
Begin by getting on all fours and place your hands on two furniture movers, valslides, or paper plates.
Extend your legs and plant your feet into the ground to get up into a push-up position.
While keeping your core tight lower yourself down towards the ground. You want to slide your hands apart.
After you get your chest low to the ground, push back up and slide your hands back together while really squeezing your chest.
Squeezing your chest at top of push-up exercises is something to get used to for proper chest build-up.
Lower down, slide your hands apart and repeat for reps.
I’ll go over exactly how many reps you need to do for each exercise at the end. This will provide a structured routine that you can use to build up your chest.
The next exercise is the chest squeeze push-up.
Usually, when you take a closer grip, you target your triceps more. But there’s a way to really hit your chest with a close grip as well.
You can do these on the ground. But I recommend using a medicine ball or basketball for this exercise.
Start by placing both hands on the ball, slightly off to the sides.
Raise your body into a push-up position and lower yourself down for a 3-second count. Squeeze your hands together the whole time.
Once your chest comes down to the ball, press back up quickly. Keep squeezing your hands tight together like you’re trying to pop the ball. Then repeat for reps.
This exercise will once again require you to bring your hands back and forth from narrow to wide helping you target your chest.
Begin down in a push-up position just like before – with your hands under the line of your shoulders and your body in a relatively straight line from head to heel.
Push hard into the ground and explode up as you spread your legs and arms out wide and catch yourself.
As you land, lower yourself down for a push-up until your chest almost reaches the floor.
Explode back up and hop your feet and hands back to the neutral starting position.
Then go back and forth for reps.
This is an awesome progression that isn’t quite as difficult. It allows you to load more of your body weight on one side, challenging that one pec more.
It’s almost like you’re doing a supported one-arm push-up, and your other arm is doing a fly. Both put tension on the chest.
Start in a push-up position with your hands wide apart, like the wide grip push-ups from before. Don’t come straight down though.
Instead, shift your body weight towards one side and open up your elbow on the other side, so that your arm is almost straight.
Then lower yourself by bending your elbow and try to keep that elbow close to your ribs on the way down.
Press back up to then shift your weight to the other side. From there just alternate back and forth for reps.
#5 Staggered plyometric push-up
This is a slightly easier plyometric exercise. It’s still a more challenging version of a push up though.
You can use it when you’ve progressed past the point of a regular push-up and you need a way to challenge yourself further.
Get into a push-up position, except this time put one hand further up above the line of your shoulder. Place the other hand further down below the line of your shoulder.
From there, lower yourself down for a push-up. As you do this, make sure the lower arm tracks that elbow close to the body. Meanwhile, the arm above your shoulder will have your elbow coming out to the side more.
Once you reach the bottom of your push-up, explode up and switch the position of your hands. So now the bottom hand is on top and vice versa. Then repeat for reps.
Keep in mind – if it’s too challenging, you can simply switch hands one at a time without exploding up.
With this one, we’re going to add a slow negative to make it more challenging for your chest.
Start by planting your hands on two elevated platforms. You can use books, chairs, or anything sturdy. And get into a push-up position.
Lower down slowly, aiming for a 3-second count down.
By raising yourself up on two platforms you’ll be able to go down further. This will also provide a better stretch for the chest at the bottom of each rep.
Explode up as fast as you can and lower back down for a 3-second count to repeat for reps.
This simple variation, similar to the incline bench, will help you target your upper chest.
All you’ll need is a steady platform to place your feet on. The higher the platform the more challenging it’ll get.
Just don’t go too high, because then you’ll shift most of the tension onto your shoulders.
Place your hands on the ground and your feet on top of the platform.
From there, lower down for a push-up, with your elbows at about 45 degrees from the body.
Then press back up and repeat for reps.
This is another explosive exercise. It’s a type of plyometric push-up for those of you that are more advanced.
The clap-up has many different variations within itself. If you struggle to clap you can skip the clap until you’re ready.
Explode up after lowering yourself for a push-up.
Then just land back down on your hands with your elbows slightly bent.
The more advanced version is the one with the actual clap. It should occur with your hands in front of the chest, after each upward explosion.
An even more advanced variation would be to clap your hands behind your back.
Bring your hands, then your chest, back down to the ground, and repeat for reps.
This one is just excellent at targeting your chest.
By placing your hands wider apart, you put yourself in a position that requires more horizontal abduction than a regular push-up.
To begin, get down on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders. Then spread your hands out, anywhere from 6 inches to a foot so that they’re wider than your shoulders.
Lower yourself to the ground until your chest almost touches, then press back up and repeat for reps.
You can also perform this exercise while holding on to dumbbells in a neutral grip. This will hit your chest in a different way.
These can help if explosive push-ups are too hard for you to put proper tension on your upper body.
The beginning setup is the same as any other push-up. But when you lower yourself down you’re going to bring one knee to the matching elbow that’s on the same side.
While keeping your knee there, lower yourself all the way to the ground, then press back up.
Return your leg to the starting position and do the same thing on the other side.
Each time you bring your leg up to your elbow you decrease stabilization, and you increase the load on your upper body.
Since you have to turn out your body, you also increase the range of motion on the side opposite from your knee.
This combination makes the exercise more difficult for your chest. It also gives you a progression path past a regular push-up.
#11 Knee to elbow push-up
This one is similar to the previous one, except you will be twisting your body the opposite way this time.
Begin in a push-up position and, as you come down for your push-up, kick your knee through. Turn your body as though your knee is is trying to meet your opposite elbow.
Then, perform the push-up from there and alternate sides on each rep.
Like the previous one, every time you come down you’ll get a greater range of motion and stretch on one side.
Last but not least, I want to touch on the pike push-up.
And yes, it’ll hit your shoulders much more. But as long as you’re doing it raised on platforms, you’ll also place lots of tension on your upper chest.
Take two platforms and place one hand on each. Use another platform for your feet to elevate your lower body.
Raise your hips up towards the ceiling and lower yourself down for a push-up.
When trying to target the chest you don’t want your upper body to be too vertical. That would engage the shoulders more.
You want to match the same angle as an incline bench when trying to target more of the chest.
Once get to the bottom and you get a nice stretch, press back up and repeat for reps.
So those are 12 of my favorite ways to perform push-ups to hit the chest. You may not be sure how to structure your push-up routine.
If so, to start seeing results immediately, take half of the exercises from this article and perform each for 4 sets of 10 reps.
For alternating exercises like spiderman push-ups that means you would do 20 reps – 10 reps per side.
Once you finish 4 sets, move on to the next exercise until you complete all 6. If that’s too hard then try to only do this with 3 exercises.
If that’s too easy, either up your rep count or add a heavy bookbag to make the exercises more challenging.
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