Will push ups really help you to build a strong chest?

by Ryan Wagner

Standard push ups do indeed work your chest, but not as much as you might think. So, you might find yourself wondering: will push ups really help you to build a great looking chest?

Honestly, it’s going to be tough. In my experience, when I increased my push up output to upwards of 100 reps at at time, I just started to get sore shoulders.

But there are some things that you can do. One way to help get more out of the movement is to perform your push ups on rings (or two TRX straps). Position the rings such that they are only a few inches off the ground. Set yourself up like normal, but this time when you press up for each rep, work to pull the rings inward, in line with the center of your chest. Hold briefly and really squeeze! This will help to activate your chest.

Also, I wouldn’t discount volume entirely. In fact, I don’t feel like push ups will have much of an impact for you (assuming that you are already a relatively fit individual) until you get up around the 50 – 60 rep range. For many of us, the first 10, 20, and 30 push ups are really just warming us up.

If you’re looking to build your chest, you’re probably going to have to grab some weights and begin a comprehensive chest program. Push ups are great, but they aren’t traditionally known as a reliable mass builder.

But ask yourself why are you doing push ups in the first place? Is it to get stronger in the pressing movement? Or for aesthetics? Do you want a big chest just for the sake of having a big chest? If your aim is to move better and maintain healthy shoulders, then a few sets of 10 push ups with good form is probably plenty.


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