Nothing is worse than trying to exercise and target specific muscles just to have the equipment you want taken by someone else. At the gym, the bench for bench-pressing is by far the most popular piece of equipment for working the pushing muscles of your body (and for a good reason). The bench-press has one of the highest (debatable) potential for progressive overload, targets the pushing muscles, and is easy to execute (don't need to be in great shape to perform). Unfortunately, with the bench-press being taken by fellow gymgoers frequently, you can find yourself waiting for the bench-press longer than intended (sometimes 30+ minutes at a time). Luckily, you don't have to wait on the bench-press or even travel to the gym to achieve the chest mass you want!
With push-ups being taken to the intensity of the bench-press, you can elicit the same results. According to the research, push-ups (when utilized at the same intensity as the bench-press) can provide the same stimulus and adaptations. This leaves you with an opportunity to save time by not waiting on the bench-press, save time by not traveling to a gym, and save money by not even having a gym membership. By using exercise progressions, you give yourself that opportunity. Below are listed push-up variations that you can use in order to build chest mass.
1) Regular Push-Ups
Much like anything (and calisthenics is no exception), mastering the basics is KEY to developing the strength and skill for later progressions. Regular push-ups are amazing for developing muscle mass and should be performed with correct form in order to get the most out of the exercise. With your spine in a neutral position (don't let your hips sag or have your butt in the air) you are able to stimulate and develop not only your pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps), but also your abdominals.
2) Side-To-Side Push-Ups
Before attempting unilateral exercises, we must first get a "feel" for shifting our body to one side. A common complaint to body-weight unilateral exercises is the feeling of not being balanced (not feeling stable). By practicing shifting your body from side to side and increasing the difficult of single repetitions, you give yourself the opportunity to improve your stability and provide a greater stimulus for muscle growth.
3) Archer Push-Ups
Archer push-ups are the next level push-ups you have not tried yet! Archer push-ups are great for building unilateral strength for those who are not able to perform one-arm push-ups. By having balance support from the supporting limb, archer push-ups provide a greater stimulus for your chest without the balance issues of unilateral exercises (example: one-arm push-ups).
4) Rusian Push-Ups
The Russian push-up adds an extra stretch to the arms and is a great variation for those wanting to increase the difficulty of their push-ups. Russian push-ups also add more of a core stability component to the exercise due to transitioning your body from a push-up position to more of a standard plank position.
5) Elevated Pike Push-Ups
A list of chest exercises is not complete without an exercise for targeting the pectoralis minor (upper-chest). Elevated pike push-ups allow you to get a greater stretch (longer range of motion) and provides an angle that is better for targeting the pectoralis minor and the anterior deltoids (upper-chest and front of the shoulder). It is recommended to perform the divebomber push-up and pike push-up before attempting elevated pike push-ups.
With just 5 quick variation examples, you can easily build chest mass without exercise equipment or even a gym. Of course, there are more than just 5 variations you can use...but by keeping it "stupid simple" you give yourself the ability to progress further with simple skills. This progression gives you the increased stimulus for greater muscle growth.
Have any other push-up variations you enjoy that give you results? Feel free to comment your favorite variations!