There is little need for introducing the push up as one of the best bodyweight exercises. After all, the standard push up has been used for generations and generations of athletes, never surrendering its well earned reputation of a primary total body exercise. The simple, yet challenging mechanics make it one the most convenient exercise, that should be included into each standard routine. Plus, it can be performed with numerous variations, that subtly shift the target to different sets of muscles.
These variations can also be used for making the exercise more intensive, effective and even more challenging. One of the ways to make it more challenging is to take the standard floor push up and perform it with your feet elevated on a bench. Or you can opt for performing it with elevated hands. This variation of the push up allows you to lower your torso below your hands.
The staggered hands push up allows you placing greater load on one arm, by placing your hands at different heights. Some other variations of the push up include the medicine ball push ups, cross-overs, triceps diamond push ups. Whatever the variation it’s crucial that you perform them with your core tight, completing full range of motion.
PARALLEL BAR DIP
In addition to being a perfect triceps exercise, the parallel bar dip can also be used to effectively target the chest. All you need is a slight adjustment of your pose. Performing the dips will not only improve your strength, but will put to the test all your control, stamina and determination. An in addition to targeting your triceps and chest, it also activates the traps and delts, and strengthens your core and your grip. Does anybody needs more reasons for taking the dip?
Start the dips in top position by grabbing the bars and supporting yourself above the floor with your arms straight and torso slightly bent forward. Inhale and lower yourself down by bending the elbows until your chest are fully stretch. This is your bottom position. Hold for a count feeling the stretch in your chest. Exhale and push back to the starting position using your pec muscle to press up. Remember to keep your chest forward when performing this movement.
SCAPULAR PUSH UPS
The scapular push ups are more difficult to master, but are very effective for building arm, legs and core muscle strength. In addition, it’s almost an isolation exercise that effectively target the muscles around your scapula (shoulder blades). It’s worth noting that the mechanics of this exercise are fairly difficult, and it will require all your focus for proper execution.
Start in a position for the traditional push up, with your toes on your ground and arms extended. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, and your head aligned with the torso and your eyes fixed toward the ground. Start lowering the chest toward the ground while you maintain your arms straight. Focus on keeping your elbows locked or almost locked, and take your chest as low as you can by shrugging your scapulas. Remember that the range of motion is very short in this exercises.
Once in bottom position, push your chest up reversing the movement. The key for this exercise is to focus on the movement, performing it slowly and with good form. Your arms should always remain straight, and your chest out.
PLYOMETRIC PUSH UP
Although some people tend to include the plyometric push up as a variation of the more traditional push up, it’s a completely different exercise. The plyometric moves involve performing the exercises in a more explosive way, recruiting the muscle fibers in a different way than the traditional variations. Although they rely on performing the same movements, the plyometric aspect differentiate them from the traditional strength exercises. They utilize the stretch reflex, and involve greater force in their execution.
Before trying the plyometric push up, make sure that you are able to perform the traditional variation without any difficulty. Start by taking the top position for normal push up. Slowly lower your chest toward the ground in a controlled fashion. When you are in the bottom position with your chest almost pressed to the floor, push up with all your strength launching your torso into the air.
Your arms should be extended and palms slightly lifted above the floor without touching it. You can even add a clap before catching again on your hands. Lower your body to the floor and explode again. This is a fairly complex exercise, so make sure that you’ve handled the mechanics of normal push up before going for plyo. It activates a lot of muscle fibers, and improves the performance of your muscles for the regular weight lifting workout.
TRX SUSPENSION TRAINER
Although this last exercise does require some equipment, the involvement of the suspension trainer is minimal. On the other hand, it’s very functional, offering effective ways for muscle growth. Since the execution of the exercises requires great stability and balance, you get the added challenge of performing them correctly. However, with the increased intensity, they are highly efficient in building your muslce strength.
To hit the chest muscles, perform push presses and flys. You’ll feel your pecs working overtime as they struggle to maintain your bodyweight into balance. You can increase or decrease the difficulty by alternating the angle of your body position. The greater the angle of your body position, the easier it becomes.
BODYWEIGHT CHEST WORKOUT PROTOCOL
If you want to try a simple bodyweight chest protocol, try the exercises listed below. Perform 3 to 5 sets of each exercise. Try taking as little rest as possible between the sets, and take a 2 minute rest before continuing to the next round.
Feet-Elevated Push Ups 3 x 12Plyometric Push Up 3 x 15 ,15, to failureParallel Bar Dips 4 x 10 repsTRX suspension trainer fly 3 x 12 repsScapula Push Up 3 x 12