Ditch the bench press and work your way to bigger pecs with this push up workout. Face it: The bench press is irreplaceable. No guy should completely eliminate the exercise from his workout. But the truth is, you can build lots of muscle in your chest and arms without lifting a barbell or dumbbell, or using a machine. “We’re conditioned to think that using weights is the only way to develop a strong, muscular chest,” says Juan Carlos Santana, owner of the Institute of Human Performance in the US, where they do the opposite of what you’ve learnt. They use no weights, no spotters and no bench – which means you can do our entire programme at home.
“I’m talking about push-ups,” Santana says. “You’ll shred fat, boost strength, stimulate new growth and carve eye-grabbing pecs by blasting through 60-rep push-up sets.” The bench press is popular. But after this routine, you’ll wonder why you ever tried anything else.
Boost Your Growth
Follow these 3 steps to add layers of new muscle in just 8 weeks. The first step builds your endurance, the second increases strength, and the third adds explosiveness and speed so you can pack on more size. Before starting the programme, you should be able to do 20 consecutive push-ups.
If you can’t, then build your strength with this 3-week prep: Do 3 sets of push-ups 3 days a week, resting 3 minutes between sets. (A set is as many push-ups as you can complete.) The entire workout uses variations of the standard push-up. For each movement, assume a push-up position (with your body in a straight line from ankles to shoulders) and then lower your chest to the floor. Press your body back to the starting position by straightening your arms. To add difficulty, perform the exercise with your hands on a medicine ball.
Weeks 1 and 2
Perform these exercises 2 or 3 days a week in the order shown, with at least 1 day of rest between workouts. Complete 3 sets of each push-up type, resting 1 to 2 minutes between sets. Aim for sets of 10 to 15 reps; if you can’t reach that goal, do as many reps
as you can.
A) WIDE PUSH-UP
Do a standard push-up, but with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
B) ALTERNATING SHUFFLE PUSH-UP
Start in push-up position. Move your right hand to the left until both hands are next to each other. Now slide your left hand farther left until your hands are shoulder-width apart again. Do a push-up and repeat the process, this time moving to the right and doing another push-up. That’s 1 rep.
C) DIAMOND PUSH-UP
Do a push-up with your hands close enough for the tips of your thumbs and index fingers to touch, forming a diamond shape.
Weeks 3, 4, 5 and 6
Perform these exercises 2 days a week. Complete 4 sets of each push-up type, resting 1 to 2 minutes between sets. Aim for 10 to 15 reps in each set. For these push-ups, you’ll need a 10cm- to 20cm-high box or step.
A) ONE-ARM PUSH-UP
Do a push-up with your right hand on the floor and your left hand on the box. Switch arms and repeat. That’s 1 rep.
B) CROSSOVER BOX PUSH-UP
Do a one-arm push-up with your left hand on the box. Then, from the starting position, lift your right hand and place it beside your left hand on top of the box. Move your left hand down to the floor so your hands are shoulder-width apart again. Perform a push-up. That’s 1 rep.
C) HANDS-ON-BOX DIAMOND PUSH-UP
Perform a diamond push-up, but with both hands on the box.
D) DYNAMIC BOX PUSH-UP
Place your hands on a box in the diamond push-up position. Lower your body and press explosively off the box, your hands landing on the floor with the box between them. Immediately lower your body and press up explosively so your hands land back on the box in the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
Weeks 7 and 8
Complete the exercises in Step 2 as a circuit, performing the exercises one after the other with no rest. Try to perform 10 reps of each exercise. Do this twice a week and allow 3 or 4 days of rest.
By Juan Carlos Santana