Many beginners wonder whether they can build a decent chest through push-ups.
The short answer is: “yes”, but there is more to the story.
In general, hypertrophy is simple: you hit the muscle, you let it repair itself and pray that it will grow thicker and bigger in return.
The first thing you need is resistance. Without resistance, there is no stimulation, and without stimulation, there is no reason to take “selfies” in the bathroom.
How do you add resistance? By placing the musculature, the joints and the tendons under tension.
The push-up obviously does that. The chest, the triceps and the shoulders have to work hard to get you back up.
Tension has been generated. What’s next?
In order for a muscle to grow, it has to be pushed beyond a certain limit. You can’t just do a few push-ups, flex in front of the mirror and expect to get big. It won’t happen even if you watch videos of Jay Cutler between the sets. What’s needed is not just tension – we need higher than normal tension. In the beginning, push-ups may be hard for you but after a certain period of time, your body will adapt. This is why in order to keep on growing and building strength the individual has to switch to a more advanced variation or add resistance to the current one. Another way to do it is to simply increase your repetitions, but if you follow this route long enough, at one point your workout will become endurance orientated.
Endurance does not require a lot of absolute strength and mass. For that reason, keep your sets under 15 reps. If you are doing an exercise for more than 15 clean reps, you are training your endurance capacity.
You also have to realize that if you are a natural bodybuilder you cannot look like the guys in the magazines. Sorry. The sooner you get used to this FACT, the smaller the damage will be. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot build a decent physique and look 10 times better than the average person on the street stuffing burgers in his mouth. You can, but for many a strong reality check is required.
You cannot avoid the lesson, you can only postpone it.
Bottom line: if you are constantly providing medium to high resistance to the muscle you train, it will grow as much as the natural capacities of your body allow. Push-ups can do that for you, and you can definitively build a decent chest from them. However, you have to add more and more resistance in order to keep the body adapting.
Q: Is the push-up more effective than the bench press?
A: The bench press is easier to scale. However, the push-up is a much safer exercise and a lot kinder to your shoulders. Also, since many people are essentially doing barbell benching for ego purposes, the exercise is known to cause pectoral tears. On the other hand, it’s really hard to tear a pectoral muscle by doing push-ups. Technically, it’s not impossible, but the chances of doing so during a max bench press attempt are much higher.
Q: How often should I do push-ups?
A: It depends on your overall routine, but anything over three times a week is unnecessary unless you are a professional push-up warrior.
For more information on training and programming, check out Training Focus.
Q: How many sets and reps?
A: In general, try to keep the reps under 15 and perform about 4-5 sets. When it get’s easy, and you can do 4-5 sets consisting of more than 15 reps, switch to a different variation or just add weight.
The steps to a bigger chest with bodyweight exercises are:
1.Do hard push-up variations frequently.
2.Eat and rest.