Outdoor Press-Up Circuit To Build Your Chest

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In This Series


What do you bench, bro? It barely matters. The flat bench press isn’t the chest-builder you’ve been led to believe. The path to improved pecs actually starts with the press-up – and with a handful of bodyweight moves to complement it, you can build T-shirt-filling muscle without ever touching a dumbbell. Do this circuit once or twice a week, but make sure you’re balancing it with an equal amount of pulling work – you don’t want that nine-to-five slouch you’ve been cultivating getting any worse, after all.

The Aim A bigger chest and triceps

How Do two to three sets of the pike press-ups, going to near-failure on each set – try to add more reps each week. Add eight to ten reps of straight bar dips for three sets with a 60-second rest in between, then finish with 50 press-ups in as few sets as possible. Focus on diamond press-ups for your triceps, pec press-ups for chest or handstand press-ups to work your shoulders.

press up

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Pike press-up

Start in a press-up position and walk your feet forwards to push your hips up so your body makes a V-shape with the hands on the floor. Keeping your hips high, bend your arms to lower your head straight down, and push back up.

Diamond press-up

From a standard press-up position move your hands together to create a diamond with your thumbs and fingers. Lower your chest to the floor, and press up.

Pec press-up

Think of these like an isometric version of the dumbbell flye: no weight required. Get into a press-up position with your hands directly below your shoulders, do one rep - chest to the floor, please - then, at the top, “pull” your hands towards each other for three or four seconds, with the aim of activating your pecs. Repeat four times.

Handstand press-up

“You can progress these by working through whatever range of movement you can manage,” says Stevenson. “But the end goal is to get your face to the floor.” Get into a handstand with your feet resting on a wall or tree. “Screw” your hands into the floor by twisting your elbows so they point behind you. Keeping your elbows close to your body, lower down as far as you can, then push up.

Straight bar dip

Grip a straight bar with hands shoulder-width apart, and jump up so you’re holding yourself on straight arms, above the bar with your feet off the ground. Try to “bend the bar” by twisting your thumbs forwards – then, with your elbows close to your body, lower yourself as far as possible. Then press back up.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.