Even though I don’t completely agree with the favoritism that most websites are showing towards pushups, calling it the best bodyweight chest exercise. I can’t argue with the fact that it’s a really good exercise that will help you build up your pecs.
You can do pushups virtually anywhere, there are a ton of variations that will help you add variety to your chest workouts, and it does a pretty good job in building up triceps, shoulder and chest strength.
Something that I have noticed in most articles that list bodyweight chest exercises or workouts is that they add in the wide push-up as a really good alternative and that it will really make your chest grow because it adds more stretch to the muscle group.
While that is true, there is something else that nobody seems to be talking about and that is the fact that wide pushups increase your chances of irreversibly damaging your shoulders.
I am not going to go into too much detail, but you can watch this video where the dude explains it pretty well:
While everyone knows what a pushup is. There are some small details about this bodyweight exercise that is worth discussing to make sure that you’re a) targeting your chest properly and b) avoid injury.
Stand in your standard push-up position – in a plank where your arms are holding you off the ground at shoulder width. You want your palms to be at chest level – pretty much where your nipples are located. This is your starting position.
Start lowering yourself downward until your chest is almost about to touch the ground.
Just like the chest dip, you want to make sure that you slightly flare out your elbows to ensure that you’re applying a better stretch on your chest. The closer your elbows are to your body the more you are using your triceps instead of your chest.
This does not mean that you should be completely flaring out your elbows as you will be placing too much tension on your shoulders. Find your sweet spot, but the elbow flare should be at about a 45 degree angle.
Once you start raising yourself up to the starting position you would want to squeeze the chest, just like I had mentioned with the dips – do not lock your elbows at the top as you are now taking away the stress from your muscles and adding it on to your elbow joints. So, not like this dude:
If you find yourself struggling to push yourself all the way up then what you can do is stand on your knees instead of having your legs fully extended.
This will take away some of the weight and make your journey back to the starting position easier.
If ease is not what you’re striving for then what you can do is just do negative sets – lower yourself slowly to the bottom and instead of lifting yourself up, just start over. This will ensure better strength development in your chest, triceps and shoulders.
Lastly, a crucial part to a good pushup is to keep your back straight – that means don’t lift your butt too high in the air and don’t slouch.
After some time passes and you feel confident in your strength you can start by raising one leg in the air to increase the complexity of the exercise and apply more stress on your chest.