Fun, challenging and effective strength training workouts are an important part of producing fitness results. A favorite component of my chest strength training workouts is push-ups.
It may surprise you to know there are a lot of different ways to perform a push-up. Most often, push-ups are performed with momentum and little attention is given to body position or targeting a specific muscle group. People often drop their hips, scrunch their shoulders, or over-arch their lower back in order to squeak out a few more reps. This is because push-ups are often tested against time or the exerciser is attempting to do the maximum number they can before failure.
The form you use for push-ups should be dependent on your specific goal. For chest workouts, I teach clients to do push-ups while holding a neutral spine, stabilizing the shoulder girdle and isolating the chest muscles. Using this form is an effective way to use push-ups as part of your chest strength training workouts.
I used this push-up workout with a few clients to add something new and different instead of the standard flat bench or flat dumbbell press. I call it the 100 push-up challenge. The goal is to perform 100 (women 70) push-ups at the beginning of your chest workout.
Step 1: As many push-ups as you can do starting with perfect form and control, and allowing your form to slip only a little. Use your form as a guide: if you cannot hold decent form, then you’ve worked until failure.
Step 2: Perform 25 sit-ups as a recovery.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you’ve done 100 total push-ups.
Note: If you’re accustomed to doing push-ups, you may need to set your number higher than 100. Generally I’ve found that getting to 100 requires at least 3-4 sit-up breaks for most people.
Real Life Example
Set 1 = 40 push-ups; 25 sit-ups
Set 2 = 25 push-ups; 25 sit-ups
Set 3 = 18 push-ups; 25 sit-ups
Set 4 = 10 push-ups; 25 sit-ups
Set 5 = 7 push-ups
Push-ups are often overlooked as an effective means for strengthening the chest because they are such a simple body weight exercise. The truth is body weight exercises are an excellent addition to any strength workout and can also be used in substitution for traditional strength training workouts.
When done correctly, body weight exercises are challenging, realistic, and relevant to real world movement including functional movement and athletic performance. They require you to stabilize yourself, activate your core, and control your body position as the target muscle group becomes fatigued.
Even if you opt out of the 100 push-up challenge, I recommend incorporating some form of push-up into your chest strength training workouts as part of a super-set or as a simple warm-up before you being your standard workout. If you do decide to take the challenge, report your results back to me here, I would love to know how you did!