Face it: The bench press is irreplaceable. No guy should completely eliminate the exercise from his workout. But the truth is, you can build lots of muscle in your chest and arms—and boost your bench—without lifting a barbell or a dumbbell, or using a machine.
We’re conditioned to thinking that using weights is the only way to develop a strong, muscular chest. But at the Institute of Human Performance in Florida, USA, the opposite of what you’ve learned is done. They use no weights, no spotter and no bench—which means you can do the entire programme at home.
We’re talking about pushups. You’ll shred fat, boost strength, stimulate new growth, and carve eye grabbing pecs by blasting through 60-rep push up sets. After this routine, you’ll wonder why you ever tried anything different.
Push your growth
Follow these three steps to add layers of new muscle in just eight weeks. The fi rst step builds your endurance, the second step increases strength, and the final one adds explosiveness and speed so that you can pack on more size.
Before starting the programme, you should be able to do 20 consecutive pushups. If you can’t, then build your strength with this three-week prep: Three days a week, do three sets of pushups, resting three minutes between sets. (A set is as many pushups as you can complete.)
The entire workout uses variations of the standard push up. For each movement, assume a pushup position (with your body in a straight line from ankles to shoulders) and then lower your chest to the floor. Press your body back to the starting position by straightening your arms. To add difficulty, perform the exercise with your hands on a medicine ball.
Week 1 and 2
Perform these exercises three days a week in the order shown, with a day of rest between workouts. Complete three sets of each pushup, resting two minutes between sets. Aim for sets of 10 to 15 reps; if you can’t reach that goal, do as many reps as you can.
Wide Pushup Do a standard pushup, but with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
Diamond Pushup Do a pushup with your hands close enough for the tips of your thumbs and index fingers to touch, forming a diamond shape.
Alternating shuffle pushup Start in pushup position. Move your right hand to the left until your two hands are next to each other. Now slide your left hand farther left until your hands are shoulder-width apart again. Do a pushup and repeat the process, this time moving to the right and doing another pushup. That’s one rep.
Weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6
Perform these exercises two days a week. Complete four sets of each pushup type, resting two minutes between sets. Aim for 10 to 15 reps in each set. For these pushups, you’ll need a four- to eight-inch-high box or step.
One-arm pushup Do a pushup with your right hand on the floor and your left hand on the box. Switch arms and repeat. That’s one rep.
Crossover box pushup Do a one-arm pushup with your left hand on the box. From that position, lift your right hand and place it beside your left hand on top of the box. Move your left hand to the floor so your hands are shoulder-width apart. Do a pushup. That’s one rep.
Hands-on-box Diamond Pushup Perform a diamond pushup, but with both hands on the box.
Dynamic Box Pushup Place your hands on a box in the diamond pushup position. Lower your body and press explosively off the box, your hands landing on the floor with the box between them. Lower your body and press explosively up so your hands land on the box in the starting position. That’s one rep.
Weeks 7 and 8
Complete the exercises in step 2 as a circuit, performing one exercise after the other with no rest. Try to perform 10 reps of each exercise. Do this twice a week, and allow three or four days of rest.