Why it's on the list: An obvious point in favor of push-ups is that they require no equipment and can be the centerpiece of a home chest workout, like in strength coach Paul Carter's program Jacked at Home: Bodyweight Muscle-Building Workouts. But they're also highly versatile, easy to adjust for range of motion, and can help strategically target different parts of your chest with a few simple tweaks to elevation or hand placement.
"Yeah, but they're just push-ups," you say. "They're definitely not enough to make you strong." Believe it or not, an in-depth analysis found that push-ups and bench presses are similar in both muscle activation and overall muscle gains. This doesn't mean push-ups should be all you do, but it means they definitely should have a place in your repertoire.
Push-Up Variations for Chest Growth:
- Feet-elevated push-up
- Hands-elevated push-up
- Suspended push-up
- Hand-release push-up
- Weighted push-up
- Banded push-up
In your workout: Sets of push-ups to failure are a great way to burn out or add volume in the late stages of a workout, and they're awesome in a compound set with dips, a mechanical dropset after flyes or presses, or an antagonist chest-and-back superset with rows. Weighted push-ups and push-ups with resistance bands can even be a primary push movement, if needed.