There is no doubt that apart from weight loss goals, the very second and most popular goal for most people when they join the gym is growing their chest and getting bigger arms as soon as possible.
I remember the very first thing I did when I joined the gym was push ups and you also did the same and when it comes to the chest and push ups the only question that comes in most people’s mind is I don’t want to lift heavy bench presses, can I grow my chest with only push ups?
Building your chest by doing only push ups is a really hard thing as your chest will not get enough mechanical tension and metabolic stress as per the hypertrophy perspective. If you want to grow a chest where you look awesome in front of your friends then YES, you can grow your chest with push-ups.
Growing your chest with push ups comes with conditions like you have to do more reps than you do with the bench press and so on…
As you read further, we will deep dive into this topic and understand how you can have a big chest by doing push ups.
Can You Build a Chest with Just Push ups?
As I said earlier that you can build a chest with the push up like any other calisthenics build but can you build chest hypertrophy with just push ups?
If you want to build a chest like bodybuilders and not want an average chest that most people have, then it will be hard to grow a chest with push-ups alone.
You have to apply some techniques to get most out of your push ups workout.
But before that when it comes to growing a chest, the only exercise that comes to most people’s mind is bench press.
I want to compare bench presses and push ups for muscle growth. Which one is better?
So I found three scientific studies about bench press and push ups on muscle growth.
A comparison study on Kinematic and muscle activation between push ups and bench press by Roland, found that there is no kinematics and muscle activation difference between bench press and push ups when they both performed with the same load.
However, one thing that is worth mentioning here is that all the participants are resistance trained male and use weight vests for push ups.
From what I remember when I first started going to gym and still, my gym do not have weight vest.
So if you are a person who does most of the workout at home with the help of a weight vest then you can have similar muscle activation like you have with the bench press.
But if we see this from the practical way the world’s heaviest vest is around 220lbs which is Kensui EZ-VEST and it will be hard for regular people to put this much weight on their back and do push ups.
Second study compares the low load bench press with the push ups for the hypertrophy and strength gains.
The author found that bench presses and push ups induce similar gains in the chest and triceps over a 8 week period.
Which means that push ups are effective exercises for the chest and tricep growth and you should do them as a body weight or as a finisher of your chest workout.
Now the third and final study specifically focuses on muscle strength and thickness, so if you want to build strength in your chest and arms, this study is for you!
The purpose of this study was to determine whether progressive calisthenic push-up training (PUSH) is comparable with traditional bench press training (BENCH) as a technique for increasing muscle strength and thickness.
And the results are in push ups favor, which means you can increase your upper body muscle strength by doing push ups if you do progress over time.
Make sure to read the whole article to know how you can get maximum out of your push ups training.
How many push ups for a Day?
Now we know the answer but we don’t know how many push ups we should do to grow our chest.
The studies I showed you earlier didn’t show the number of reps to grow muscle and strength for the chest.
So what we’re going to do is to stick with the general hypertrophy rep range which is 6-20.
If you have any kind of heavy weight you can start with the 6 reps and if you don’t have one you can do 20 reps.
Just keep in mind that doing more than that will not grow your chest overnight.
Type of Push ups for Chest
There are many different types of easy and hard push ups you can do to grow your chest.
The complete list of push ups, you can read here!
But my favourite push ups variations are
- Regular Push ups
- Narrow Grip Push ups
- Wide Grip Push ups
P.S. Let me know in the comments the favourite push ups variation of yours.
Optimize Your Push Ups Training For Chest Growth
I saw many people in the gym who really don’t know about which push ups work which muscle more and less, and because of this it is very important to optimize your push ups training for maximum chest growth.
Tip #1 Choose The Correct Variation
What would you answer if I asked which muscle does regular push ups work?
I don’t know what you will answer but the correct one is the whole chest muscles.
If you want to increase your pectoralis major muscle activation then do more of the narrow grip push-ups with the hands placed in a diamond shape.
This has been proven in the study about the effect of palm width on the chest muscle activation.
Anyways, if you want to grow your triceps with the push ups, try doing close grip push ups on a swiss ball.
Tip #2 Progress Your Push ups
This is the mistake done by most people and I’m not an exception.
I just do regular my favourite push up variations and never learn other push ups variation until I know the benefits of it.
As you can see from the below graphic you can start with the wall push ups, if you find it too hard for you to do half push ups and then progress upto one arm push ups.
I don’t know at which stage you are now in the push ups progression but if you are able to do 15 reps of one arm push ups, you really don;t need to read this article.
Tip #3 Go to Failure
Like I said you can do 20 reps to grow your chest but you can do more than that if you want to build some serious muscles in the chest.
There are many studies which show that when you train with the light load and go too close to failure you can have a similar hypertrophic effect like you have with the heavy load.
So, when you do push ups, try to go to failure every time in each set.
Tip #4 Implement Them Properly
Lastly, you have to make sure that you are implementing push ups training correctly either in the gym or at home.
IF you’re doing body weight chest workout at home:
- Try to do at least 2-3 push ups variation per week
- Go for failure for most of the sets and at the end of the workout it’s ok if you can’t go to failure.
- Focus on doing progress with the push up variations and do progressive overload as well.
If you’re doing your chest workout at the gym:
- You can do push ups at the end of the workout as a workout finisher and make sure to go for failure to feel burned!
To end this article, there are a few things that you should keep in mind if you want to grow a chest with push ups.
The first one is to go for failure, try different variations and make progress in that, apply some weight if you have. If you do this, you can have awesome chest growth with which you can impress your friends.
Doubts? Comments? Thoughts? Drop them below!