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Building Muscle With Pushups

I still remember when I was a teenager how skinny I was. Thanks to doing pushups on a regular basis at school and at home, I managed to change my physique to an athletic one. Pushups really changed my life for the better and instilled more confidence in me. Pushups are one of the most versatile exercises you can find since you have so many variations like normal pushups, decline pushups, diamond pushups and pushups between chairs. Pushups are what we call calisthenics, it's a bodyweight strength training exercise and can be performed anywhere without any equipment. You just need your own body. This is a great benefit as imagine when you don't have access to any gym, you can still exercise freely.

Building muscle with pushups can really add some solid muscle mass provided you perform them intensely. Pushups work primarily your pectorals also known as your chest muscles but also target secondary muscle groups like your triceps and shoulders and to some extent your back. Now let's take a look at some of the different pushups variations.

Normal Pushups - place your hands on the floor about 2 feet wide such that your body is parallel to the floor. Keep your back and legs straight. Inhale as you slowly lower your chest till it nearly reaches the ground and exhale as you rise up. Perform 3-5 sets of 15-20 repeats. If you're a beginner start slowly. 1-2 sets of 5-10 repeats should suffice. Increase your sets and repeats gradually. Always perform pushups in a controlled fashion and feel your pectorals really working and stretching out. Normal pushups target mostly the middle chest and to some extent the lower chest. Secondary muscles worked are triceps, middle and front shoulders. This exercise is a bit identical to flat bench press.

Decline Pushups - place your feet on a solid chair and your hands on the floor about 2 feet wide such that you'll be in a decline position. Keep back and legs straight as always. Lower your chest slowly and inhale while doing so. Exhale when rising up. Decline pushups are really effective for building muscle mass in your upper chest area. Secondary muscles worked are triceps and front shoulders. It's more difficult to perform than normal pushups as in addition to using your bodyweight for resistance, you're also using gravity for added resistance, so the exercise becomes harder. I usually perform 2-4 sets of 25 repeats but any specific sets and repeats is ok like 5 sets of 10 or 10 sets of 10 etc…, whatever suits you best. This exercise is a bit identical to incline bench press.

Diamond Pushups - this is an amazing exercise which will add great mass to your triceps and also work your inner chest muscles. It's similar to normal pushups with only a variation in your arm posture. For instance, your hands should be close to each other making a diamond shape with your thumb and forefinger. Your elbows should be tuck in to your sides. For added difficulty, perform diamond pushups in a decline position similar to decline pushups. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-10 repeats. The diamond pushups is a bit similar to close grip bench press in weight training as it will build mass to your triceps and the movement is practically the same.

Pushups Between Chairs - targeting your outer chest and middle pectorals, this is a great exercise for building thoracic expansion and adding width and depth to your chest. Virtually the same as normal pushups with the only difference being you're elevated above the floor on chairs. For this exercise you will need three solid chairs. Place your feet on 1 chair and your hands on the other 2 chairs about 2 feet wide. Slowly lower your body till your chest is between the 2 chairs and stretching out. Then rise up gradually. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-10 repeats. Pushups between chairs is almost the same as chest flyes in bodybuilding.

These 4 exercises will give you a fantastic chest workout without requiring a gym membership. For added difficulty when you reach a plateau, you can use a backpack filled with books. As with any training, it's fundamental you also have a solid nutrition in place to build muscle.

I've always been a great fan of bodyweight calisthenics and enjoy doing exercises like pushups, pullups, dips etc… It really pays off. Building a great physique with time without any fancy gym machines is indeed possible with just bodyweight training. If you want to specialize in calisthenics, I highly recommend you to check out Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Training by Ashley Kalym.

Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Training

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