When you think about building up your chest, you probably think about exercises like chest press and classic benching, but what about pushups? While it’s definitely a great bragging point to bench a ton of weight, there are a ton of benefits that can come from performing pushups, too. There’s more than one way to perform a pushup and these three variations will definitely challenge you and put your pecs to the test.

By Roger Lockridge

The basic pushup is among the first exercises we learn, if not the first. Its simplicity in execution misleads many people to think it’s not as effective in helping you improve as more complicated moves. I’d argue that you haven’t tapped into your true upper body potential unless you’ve done all you can do with it. That means challenging yourself to perform more challenging versions. These suggestions are more for beginners that are new to training but even you weight room veterans might benefit from doing these too.

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So be ready to drop and give me 10, or 20, or as many as you can. Rotate these three variations every week so you can keep shocking the chest, shoulders, and triceps, as well as challenge yourself to improve.

Feet Up

This is the way that most of you are familiar with. You put your feet up on a bench or seat which shifts the weight directly on your upper body. This drill can help you measure your improvement. Find a way to raise your feet around 6 inches off the floor. Place them on a step or a couple plates. Perform around 20 reps. While you’re resting, find a way to elevate your feet 12 inches and perform the same number of pushups again. The effect is similar to adding weight to a bar when you perform pyramid sets. Continue raising your feet and performing sets until you can no longer perform the desired reps with good form. Next time challenge yourself to perform more reps and raise your feet even more.

Max Reps in 10 Minutes

The next drill is based on the clock and is simple in reading but not so much in doing. When the time starts, perform as many reps as possible until you reach failure. You can stop and rest but the clock is still ticking so recover quickly.

Once you’re ready to go, pick up with the last number you finished at. So if you performed 40 reps before stopping, start with 41 and keep counting. Continue to take short breaks when you can’t perform a rep with good form. Keep knocking out pushups until the timer reaches 10 minutes. Write down the number of total pushups you were able to do. Next time, try to beat that number.

Add Resistance

Many people aren’t too concerned with number of reps but by how much weight can be moved. Strength is important too but the pushup can be a great way to do that. There are three ways to add weight. You can either place chains around your shoulders, add weight via a vest, or by having a partner add weights to your back. Regardless of how you choose to add weight, you can make yourself stronger. Once you can perform 20 reps with the extra weight, add more weight.

There is a bonus that comes with this too. You can do a drop set of pushups. Once you find the resistance that works best for you, do as many reps as you can. Upon failure, simply remove the extra weight, get back into position, and go until you reach failure again.

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