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An awesome chest and well-muscled pecs are often seen as the pinnacle of a great physique. There’s a reason why in most gyms, Monday’s are “International chest day” – and it’s because most guys prioritize their chest muscles above all others.
Leaving aside how this may not be the most balanced approach, let’s look at a typical muscle-building chest workout –
It might start with a bench press. In fact, for most guys, it almost certainly will. After many sets on the flat bench, they may move to the incline and possibly the decline bench too, before hitting some dumbbell presses at various angles, then some flyes, a few sets of crossovers or machine presses, before perhaps finishing off with a few token pushups.
Unfortunately, while this routine may look good on paper, it’s far from optimal.
Additionally, it relies on having a huge range of equipment – something which many guys just don’t have the luxury of. This also becomes an issue when you can’t make it to the gym, need to train on holiday, or in busy times, when you simply can’t fight your way through the crowds to get to the bench press, dumbbell rack or seated chest press machine.
With that in mind, wouldn't it be great to have a routine that didn't need equipment? One that was based purely on body-weight moves, but was just as effective (if not more so) than the one detailed above?
The good news is, you can have just that.
While body-weight exercises often get a bad rap, they’re incredibly effective when it comes to building your chest. And not just when you can’t make it to the gym either. These killer moves can be used any time and you’ll be surprised just how much more you feel them than you do your regular exercises.
We’ll start our list with the last exercise mentioned in your typical guy’s routine – the pushup.
Perfecting the Pushup
If you could only ever do one move for your chest, I’d advise making it the pushup.
The trouble is, most people DON’T do them right. Here’s a rundown of how a pushup should be performed for maximum chest recruitment –
- Hands shoulder-width apart
- Elbows tucked in close to your sides so they’re not flaring out
- Forearms completely vertical
- Fingers facing straight ahead
- As you descend, your back should remain flat, and your hips in line with your mid-back – no sagging butts!
- Drop until your chest is just an inch above the floor, then push back up forcefully while keeping your elbows tucked.
Perfect the pushup with these technique cues, work on building up your workout volume (ie. Increase your reps, number of sets, time under tension and workout density) and just by doing that, you’ll make more gains in terms of chest size than you have done in years.