Push Ups and Bench Press mainly do the same thing – they target chest, front shoulders, triceps and lats in a pushing motion. However, when doing Bench Press the weight moves and the upper body is stabilised on a bench, which makes it easier to focus on your chest and push more weight. When I did a Push/Pull with bench and OHP on the same day, OHP went up 20 pounds in 5 months. Now That I have a separate shoulder day it's gone up 25 pounds in about 2.5 months. So I would say no, don't do them together. Doing a lot of push ups has a lot to do with endurance. There were probably ten or twenty kids in wrestling who could do push ups all day but could not bench 500 lbs. The lower weight groups tend to be faster and better at push ups too. The other thing to consider that the push up has a greater range of muscles involved.
For the duration of the challenge, he eats a 1,200-calorie breakfast, a 500 calorie snack, a 1,000-2,000-calorie lunch, another snack, a 1,000-calorie dinner, and finishes with an 800-calorie shake, putting his caloric intake each day at around 4,950.
T © YouTube YouTuber Jose Zuniga gained definition and muscle mass in his chest by doing 300 pushups and eating 5,000 calories every single day for a month.o make the strain slightly easier on his chest, Zuniga breaks the 300 reps down into 100 decline pushups in the morning, 100 regular pushups in the afternoon, and 100 incline pushups in the evening.
'Muscle memory starts kicking in,' he says about 10 days into the month-long challenge, 'so now the reps are starting to become easier and I can go through them faster.'
Zuniga introduces progressive overload into the 30 days by increasing his range of motion, fully extending his arms on every rep after easing in for the first 10 days. Then he slows the tempo of the reps for the last 10 days of the challenge, creating greater muscle tension and requiring more controlled movements. These reps are so much more physically intensive that Zuniga has to split them up into sets of 10 to complete them.
At the beginning of the month, Zuniga weighed in at approximately 181 pounds. After eating nearly 5,000 calories and performing 300 pushups for 30 days, weighed in at 189 pounds — and is showing visible definition and growth in his chest. 'I have pecs!' He says, delighted. 'Like, there's actually something here!'
'This was brutal. It sucked, it was not easy by any means,' he says. 'At first I thought, oh, 100 in the morning, 100 in the afternoon, 100 at night, it can't be that tough. By day 10, your pecs and your shoulders are just so sore from hitting the same movement over and over.'
'I haven't stepped foot in a gym in a month, and I've naturally gained muscle mass through eating well, having the right supplements, and putting in the work every single day,' he continues. 'Even though the gyms are closed, you can low-key get a hell of a bodyweight workout, look amazing, put on muscle mass, from the comfort of your home, with zero equipment.'
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Compared to the bench press, the push-up is often seen as a less effective alternative. After all, bench pressing is hardcore and push-ups are only for prisoners or people without gym access right?
People have this strange misconception that the heaviest exercises get you the most jacked but, physiologically, load is fairly irrelevant when it comes to building muscle.
Bench Press Meaning
External load isn't what drives muscle growth, but rather internal force production, otherwise known as mechanical tension. Load or any form of resistance – whether it's band, cables, or your own bodyweight – are merely tools to apply mechanical tension.
Don't believe me? Check out this new study.
Kotarsky et al took 23 intermediate male lifters and divided them up into a bench press group and a push-up group. (1) Both groups did three workouts a week for a month. Each workout had three working sets of about 6-8 reps, so 9 weekly sets total of horizontal pushing for both groups.
Both groups also had an objective progression model. That just means that once a performance was reached, progression was auto-regulated based on the study design.
For the bench press group, they simply added load like you would at the gym. Prove you got stronger by hitting the maximum rep range and slap on some more plates.
For the push-up group, they progressed in push-up variation. The study design had nine variations starting with the wall push-ups your sister did in elementary school all the way to one-arm push-ups.
These progression models are crucial because without them subjects are just training willy nilly instead of actually building strength and creating adaptations. Ironically, plenty of researchers don't implement them and pretty much end up wasting everyone's time.
Bench Press Set
What They Found
After four weeks, the study measured chest muscle thickness, explosive medball throw performance, and bench 1RM. Both groups also did a push-up progression test.
From a statistical standpoint, both groups made similar progress on all measures except the push-up progression test where the push-up group did significantly better. Not too surprising there.
While the bench press group had a slightly bigger 'effect size' for bench press 1RM, I was surprised that the push-up group did so well considering the law of specificity. The push-up group didn't bench for a whole month and basically got just as strong at benching. Goes to show how versatile the push-up is.
As far as muscle size goes, push-ups were just as hypertrophic as benching. But let's look closer at the data.
When looking at the average raw effect sizes, the push-up group built over three times as much muscle as the bench press group did (4% vs. 1.2%). Considering this was just a four-week study in already intermediate lifters, total muscle growth is expectedly slow indicating that the results were simply underpowered.
Had the study continued longer with more participants, the gap would've got closer, but the push-up group likely would've made statistically better gains.
But enough about statistics. The big takeaway is push-up variations (even ones without weight) are, at worst equivalent to the bench press and, at best, superior.
How Can This Be?
Remember, load/weight isn't the end-all, be-all in exercise selection. The push-up uses less absolute load, but muscle activation is equivalent to the bench press (2).
After all, the push-up is a closed-chain version with more range of motion while allowing for the shoulder blades to move freely, all of which make an exercise enticingly favorable (3). Also, the push-up is less fatiguing, so in practice it allows you to do more volume.
Oh, and it's definitely worth mentioning that push-ups are much less injurious. I mean, how many people do you know that hurt themselves doing push-ups compared to barbell benching?
What This Means For You
Remember, for push-ups to be effective, they have to be challenging, but that's not an issue for most people.
Even the most hardcore of bros can't do 4 sets of 30 strict push-ups with a consistently controlled eccentric/negative. Start there, especially if you're a push-up skeptic.
Bench Press Amazon
However, if you're truly a beast, you can do one or more of the following to up your push-up game.
- Increase range of motion: Elevate your feet or hands on blocks.
- Make them unilateral: Do archer push-ups (see video below) or one-arm push-ups.
- Add load: A bumper plate or some chains on your back will go a long way.
- Add gymnastic rings or a TRX: The instability will make push-ups more challenging.
Related: The Toughest Push-Up You'll Ever Do
Related: The Push-Up That Prevents Injuries
- KJ; Kotarsky CJ; Christensen BK; Miller JS; Hackney. 'Effect of Progressive Calisthenic Push-up Training on Muscle Strength and Thickness.' Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Calatayud J;Borreani S;Colado JC;Martin F;Tella V;Andersen LL; 'Bench Press and Push-Up at Comparable Levels of Muscle Activity Results in Similar Strength Gains.' Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Pozzi, Federico, et al. 'Electromyography Activation of Shoulder and Trunk Muscles Is Greater during Closed Chain Compared to Open Chain Exercises.' Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, Elsevier, 12 May 2019.