There's a reason the push-up is a chest-building staple: it requires zero equipment, can be performed absolutely anywhere, and can also be adapted and made more difficult as your strength and endurance improve. In a new video on his YouTube channel, trainer, former professional bodybuilder, and Mr. Olympia competitor Charles Glass shared a variation which he uses to boost muscle growth by placing more pressure on the chest.
"My philosophy is to work the entire pec, to get the most out of the entire pec," he says.
Assume a kneeling position with the soles of your feet placed flat against a wall behind you. Then place your hands out in front of you in a pushup position, widen your stance until your knees are further apart than your shoulders, and lift them off the ground (this might feel familiar if you've ever done a bear plank or bear crawls). Glass prefers your hands to be about shoulder-width apart. The goal here is to perform a pushup rep without letting your knees make contact with the ground. Another important cue to keep in mind is to bring your chest to the ground, not your head – but make sure to keep your neck in a neutral position. If you have shoulder issues, or if you experience pain as you perform the movement, stop doing the exercise.
"You can tell the difference," says Glass. "Your body's not stretched out, you've got everything compressed into the wall, and you're going over your hands. That really kills your chest, because you can't use anything but muscle to push off. So it works really well."
This variation is especially effective, he adds, at targeting the central chest area. "If you keep your hands inside and you're pushing, you'll get a lot of that inner pec moving forwards, so that's why we're doing it."
Glass advises performing the reps slowly instead of churning them out quickly, and to avoid fully extending your arms at the upper end of the movement, which is usually the preferred form. "Get that chest working," he says. "Don't lock out." This will keep your muscles under tension the whole time you're in the position – just make sure you don't cheat with half-reps.
He suggests doing these for 3 sets to failure if you are a beginner, and 4 sets or upwards if you have a more advanced level of fitness.
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