Body Weight Workout Week: Chest and Triceps
When it comes to body weight exercises to work out the chest, we all know the number one exercise, the push up. Push ups are a great exercise for working the chest, but it is important to have proper form. To do a proper push up, put your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, with your body as straight as possible. Don’t stick your butt high up in the air or let your body slouch down. Tighten your abs and butt muscles. For timing, pause for a second at the top and bottom of each push up so that you don’t use momentum to make the push ups easier. Your feet should be as close together as possible.
If you are having difficulty with the standard push up, then you can work up to it by doing push ups from your knees.
One Handed Push Ups
The problem with push ups is that you can quickly work your way up to doing a lot of push ups, then they are no longer useful for building strength or adding muscle mass. The ideal rep range for building strength is 3 to 8 reps. Personally I can do more than 50 push ups in a row, so I can’t use a normal push up to build strength, only endurance. This is where the one handed push up comes in. They are more difficult for two reasons:
- You need to lift your whole body weight with only one arm instead of two, so it is the equivalent of twice the weight.
- You have significantly less stability while doing a one handed push ups, so it works your core muscles a lot more.
When doing a one handed push up you should have your feet slightly wider than shoulder width to give you some stability. Keep your body parallel to the ground and put your other arm behind your back. One handed push ups really work your core and stabilizing muscles.
If you have difficulty doing a one handed push up at first, don’t worry. There are ways to work up to it. One possibility is to do a negative. Get in the starting position for a one handed push up and very slowly lower your self until you touch the ground. Then use both hands to get your body back up and do another rep slowly lowering yourself with one hand. This will build up your muscles for the exercise.
Your second alternative is the assisted one handed push up. Get in the position for a one handed push up, but at an arms length away have a push up handle (or a stack of books) to rest your other hand on. This will help stabilize your body and will reduce the weight you need to lift slightly. This is a really great exercise and will help you build up to a one handed push ups in no time.
Weight Vest Push Ups
If you are trying to add a lot of pure chest strength (instead of stabilizing muscles and core) then you should try weight vest push ups. The weight vest can add significant weight and make the push up a lot more challenging. The problem with doing a push up while in a weight vest is that the vest gets in the way, so you can’t go down as far in terms of range of motion. There is an easy solution to this problem, use push up handles to add back some height which will allow you the full range of motion. To make the push up even more challenging you can put your feet on a chair. The higher your feet are, the more weight you need to push. Instead of using a weight vest, you can put several heavy objects in a backpack and wear it while doing push ups. Then you don’t run into the problem of the weight vest getting in the way.
Diamond Push Ups
If you are looking to work your triceps instead of your chest, try diamond push ups. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your pointer fingers should be touching each other and thumbs touching each other so that your hands create a diamond, then do a push up. This push up variation really works the triceps.
It is possible to do a dip with nothing more than a chair or coffee table. This exercise works your triceps. Start with your hands on the chair at shoulder width apart, your fingers should be pointing forward. Your butt should be in front of the chair and your legs should be straight. Slowly lower yourself and raise yourself back without bending your knees. To make this exercise easier for those new to lifting keep your knees bent at 90 degrees the whole time. To make dips more difficult you can either add a weight vest or put your feet on a chair or bench. Similar to push ups, the higher your feet are the more weight you will need to be lifting and the more challenging the exercise.