Notwithstanding those whose passion is to be a power lifter, bodybuilder, or as humanly strong (big) as possible; I think most would be pretty happy looking like a Brad Pitt, or a Gerard Butler. For a lot of us, a good objective would be to develop a physique that looks good on the beach, in a polo shirt, a casual sports jacket, or say a tux.
These guys I mentioned, and others, have solid shoulders, lean muscular arms, good looking abs, and flat, square Pecs. Their core, their trunk muscles are great. And what makes them look great are really their Pecs. Sure the abs look good, and the eyes do got there; but it’s the Pecs that convey the sense of manliness, in my humble opinion.
And the route to getting those solid flat, square Pecs are not through the bench press. Over the years, the bench press has become the sort of undisputed king of upper body exercises, at least for the chest anyways. Well, I think the king has no clothes.
The challenge in using the bench press as a chest developer is that the focus can easily become the bench press and not the Pecs. It’s not how your Pecs look but how much you can bench. Who cares?
A better solution to developing the kind of physique that a Brad Pitt has might be to use the unsung hero of upper body exercises – the common push-up. Sure, it’s not the royalty of banging out 315lbs on the Olympic bench, but this commoner may get you what you want faster.
In fact, for a leaner, more muscular body, this upper body exercise is tops for a few reasons:
1. Unlike any endless variation of the bench press, during the push-up; your upper body is not stabilized against anything. Throughout the entire movement, you need to use your abs, legs, lower back; everything to keep your body in correct position. That effort gives you secondary benefits unmatched by benching. Don’t believe me; try holding the plank for 60 seconds.
2. Maximum effort to total failure is what push-ups are all about. Start your push-up with any hand spacing but elevate your feet on a chair. Do as many as you can and when you reach your limit; drop your feet to the floor and do some more. When you can do no more, just drop to your knees and do a couple more. From neck to ankle, you will have gone the limit.
3. You are only limited by your imagination in what you can do with this simple exercise. I’ve done these on my finger tips, on my knuckles, with my hands together and wide apart (about 4 ft apart). Take this movement that I did tonight – assume a regular push-up position but before you start, lift one leg off the ground. Do 10 reps, switch legs and continue switching until you do 40 push-ups total. Not only do these make the push-up harder but the effort you put into the down leg is amazing.
4. Long time ago in the army – during a road march – I did something to irritate the drill sergeant. He hollered at me to drop and give him some push-ups. As I started to take off my rucksack, he screamed even louder at me to drop with it on. Push-ups with a 50lb rucksack on my back – sweet, not. If push-ups are too easy for you, do them with a backpack full of books or cans.
5. You can build explosive power and muscle coordination with push-up claps
I fell in love with push-ups the first time I saw Rocky knocking out one arm push-ups when I was about 15 years old. I learned to hate push-ups when I was in the army. But there is no denying this is one great movement for, not only your chest, triceps, and shoulders, but your whole body.
And one last final point is that no one needs to spend hundreds of dollars to get into shape. Sure all the fancy equipments are nice, but what do you really need to get it done? Basically, a good pair of sneakers is about all you need. You don’t even need that to do push-ups, crunches, deep knee bends, and a few others.
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