Push day – a cornerstone of split training routines that has gym enthusiasts everywhere buzzing with anticipation.
As the name implies, it’s all about pushing movements that engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps, driving muscle growth and strength.
But what exercises should you prioritize to get the most out of your push day?
This guide is here to pump up your knowledge and your muscles, presenting the crème de la crème of push-day exercises.
A Brief Overview of What Push Day Means
For those new to the fitness lexicon, ‘Push Day’ is a term that’s as straightforward as it sounds. It’s dedicated to exercises that involve a pushing action, primarily targeting the upper body muscle groups.
On Push Day, the spotlight shines on the chest, shoulders, and triceps – the muscle trio that collaborates whenever you press, push, or extend against resistance.
Push Day’s Role in Split Training:
- Split Training Advantage: Push Day is a part of the popular ‘split training’ method, where workouts are divided based on muscle groups, movements, or body regions. This allows for focused training and sufficient recovery time for each muscle group.
- Push vs. Pull: It often alternates with Pull Day, which focuses on the biceps, back, and rear deltoids – essentially the muscles involved in pulling actions.
Why Embrace Push Day?
- Balanced Development: It ensures balanced upper body development by working complementary muscle groups together.
- Efficiency: Grouping these muscles into one workout can lead to more efficient sessions since they naturally work together in many pushing movements.
A well-crafted Push Day routine not only paves the way for enhanced muscle growth and strength but also contributes to overall functional fitness, improving your ability to perform everyday tasks with ease.
A Quick Push Day Exercises List to Review
Mastering Push Day involves a variety of exercises.
Let’s walk through some of the best ones to maximize your push day routine:
1. Bench Press with Dumbbells or Barbell
- Lie flat on a bench with your feet planted on the ground.
- If using a barbell, grip it slightly wider than shoulder-width. For dumbbells, hold them above your chest with your palms facing forward.
- Lower the weight slowly down to your chest, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your body.
- Push the weight back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms without locking your elbows.
2. Incline Bench Press with Dumbbells or Barbell
- Set the bench to a 15-30 degree incline to target the upper chest.
- Assume the same grip as the flat bench press.
- Lower the weights to the upper part of your chest, then press them back up to full extension, engaging your upper pecs and front delotids.
3. Decline Bench Press with Dumbbells or Barbell
- Set the bench to a decline position.
- Secure your legs at the end of the bench and lie down.
- Using a similar grip to the flat bench, bring the barbell or dumbbells down to the lower part of your chest.
- Push the weight up, focusing on contracting the lower pectoral muscles.
4. Chest Flies with Cable Machine or with Dumbbells
- Cable Machine:
- Stand in the center of a cable station with both pulleys set to chest height.
- Grab the handles with your palms facing forward, arms slightly bent, and lean forward slightly at the waist.
- Bring your hands together in a wide arc until they meet in front of your chest.
- Slowly reverse the motion, feeling a stretch in your pectorals.
- Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other.
- With a slight bend in the elbows, lower the weights in an arc out to the sides of your body.
- Bring the dumbbells back up, squeezing the chest muscles at the top of the movement and feeling the stretch at the bottom.
5. Narrow Grip Bench Press
- Lie on a flat bench, gripping the barbell with hands about shoulder-width apart or closer.
- Lower the bar to the mid-chest area, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Drive the bar back up to the starting position, engaging your triceps and chest.
6. Wide Grip Bench Press
- Lie on the bench and grip the barbell wider than shoulder-width, targeting the outer chest.
- Lower the barbell slowly to your chest, keeping your wrists straight and elbows flared.
- Press the bar up powerfully, contracting the chest muscles at the top of the lift.
7. Shoulder Press with Dumbbells or Barbell
- Sit or stand with a straight back and engaged core, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height.
- Press the weights overhead until your arms are straight, but not locked.
- Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height with control.
- Grip the barbell at shoulder width and start with it resting on your collarbone.
- Brace your core and press the bar overhead, locking out your arms or coming close to it.
- Slowly return to the starting position, controlling the bar’s descent.
8. Front Raises with Dumbbells or Barbells
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing down.
- Keeping your core engaged and arms straight, lift the weights upward in front of you to shoulder height targeting the front deltoids and inner chest.
- Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with control.
- Use an overhand grip to hold the barbell in front of your thighs with your arms slightly bent.
- Lift the barbell straight up to shoulder height, keeping your back straight and core tight.
- Slowly return to the starting position, ensuring a steady movement.
9. Lateral Raises
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides with palms facing inward.
- Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the dumbbells out to the sides until they reach shoulder height. This targets the medial deltoids in the middle.
- Lower the weights back down to your sides with control, not allowing momentum to dictate the movement.
10. Tricep Pulldowns
- Stand in front of a cable machine with the pulley set high, attaching a straight bar, V, or rope attachment.
- Grip the attachment with palms facing down (for a bar) or facing each other (for a rope).
- Keeping your elbows fixed to your sides, push the attachment down until your arms are fully extended.
- Let the weight up slowly, feeling the stretch in your triceps before starting the next repetition.
11. Overhead Tricep Press with Dumbbell, Barbell, or EZ Curl Bar
- Sit on a bench with back support or stand with feet shoulder-width apart and engage your core.
- Hold a dumbbell with both hands, arms extended overhead.
- Bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your head, keeping your upper arms stationary.
- Extend your arms back to the starting position, focusing on the tricep contraction.
- Barbell or EZ Curl Bar:
- Use a similar position as with the dumbbell, holding the bar with an overhand grip.
- Keep your elbows close to your head as you lower the bar behind your head.
- Push the bar back up to full extension, squeezing your triceps at the top.
12. Diamond Push-ups
- Begin in a standard push-up position but bring your hands together under your chest, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers.
- Lower your body down, keeping your back straight and core engaged, until your chest nearly touches the floor.
- Push back up to the starting position, using your triceps and chest muscles to lift your body. You can always rest on your knees instead of full push-up position to do some drop sets or just to make it easier to start.
- Use parallel bars or the edge of a bench for this exercise.
- Grip the bars or place your hands on the bench, arms straight, and legs extended forward.
- Lower your body by bending your elbows until they’re at about a 90-degree angle.
- Push through your palms, extending your elbows to lift your body back to the starting position.
14. Tricep Pushdowns
- Stand in front of a cable machine with a high pulley and attach a straight bar or rope.
- Grab the handle with an overhand grip (for the bar) or palms facing each other (for the rope).
- Keeping your elbows close to your body, push the handle down until your arms are fully extended.
- Slowly return to the starting position, feeling the triceps working throughout the movement.
For all exercises, maintain a controlled pace and avoid using momentum to complete the reps. Focus on engaging the muscles you’re targeting to ensure maximum efficiency and muscle growth.
The Top 5 Best Pieces of Push Day Equipment to Check Out:
When it comes to optimizing your push day workouts, the right equipment can make all the difference in achieving maximum efficiency and results. Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or just starting your fitness journey, selecting the right pieces of equipment can enhance your chest, shoulder, and triceps training. In this section, we’ll explore the top 5 best pieces of push day equipment that deserve a place in your workout routine. From classic essentials to innovative tools, these selections cater to various fitness levels and preferences, ensuring a well-rounded and effective push day experience. Let’s dive into the world of push day equipment and elevate your training regimen to new heights. These are sure to take your push day exercises to the next level.
Push Day Workout Routine
Ignite your muscle growth with this dynamic Push Day workout routine, carefully curated from the best of the best exercises.
Aim for 3-4 sets of each with 12-15 reps per set and throw in some drop sets and supersets to intensify your session and maximize gains.
1. Bench Press with Barbell (3-4 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Start your workout with this classic compound move to engage the entire chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- For the last set, implement a drop set by reducing the weight after reaching muscle failure and continuing to do as many reps as possible.
2. Superset: Incline Dumbbell Press and Dumbbell Flies (3-4 sets of 12-15 reps each)
- Incline Dumbbell Press: Target the upper chest by pressing the dumbbells from shoulder level to above the chest.
- Immediately followed by:
- Dumbbell Flies: With a slight bend in your elbows, open your arms wide to stretch the chest, then squeeze the pecs as you bring the weights back together.
3. Shoulder Press with Dumbbells (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Stand or sit with a straight back and press the dumbbells overhead, fully extending your arms.
- On the final set, try a compound set by immediately switching to a lighter weight and continuing to failure to really burn out the shoulder muscles.
4. Tricep Dips (3-4 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Use parallel bars and lower your body to work the triceps, chest, and shoulders.
- Focus on proper form and only continue performing reps while you can maintain good form.
5. Superset – Lateral Raises into Front Raises (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Perform a set of lateral raises to target the side deltoids.
- Without resting, transition into front raises to hit the anterior deltoids, making this a brutal but effective compound set.
6. Tricep Pushdowns (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Finish with this isolation exercise for the triceps.
- In your last set, perform as many reps as possible, then lighten the load for a final drop set to fatigue the muscles completely.
This Push Day routine is designed to not only push your muscles to the limit but also to offer variety and a balanced challenge to the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Keep the intensity high, rest periods short, and remember to hydrate throughout your workout. Remember to finish each exercise with proper form even as you push through the burn.
Supersets and Compound Sets: Game Changers for Your Push Day Workout
Supersets and compound sets are not just buzzwords; they are the secret sauce that can transform your Push Day from routine to extraordinary.
These strategies amplify intensity, blast through muscle plateaus, and significantly cut down your gym time while maximizing efficiency.
What Are Supersets?
Supersets involve performing two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between. Here’s why they’ll revolutionize your Push Day:
- Efficiency: They pack more work into less time, keeping your heart rate elevated and burning more calories.
- Intensity Boost: By working different muscle groups or the same one from different angles, supersets can lead to increased muscle endurance and growth.
- Overload Principle: Pushing a muscle to work without rest can lead to muscle hypertrophy as it forces your muscles to adapt to the increased demand.
Why Embrace Compound Sets?
Compound sets, similar to supersets, involve performing two exercises back-to-back but for the same muscle group, which can:
- Increase Muscle Fatigue: By targeting the same muscle with no rest, you create deeper muscle fatigue, which can trigger more significant growth.
- Raise Metabolic Stress: This type of training can increase the accumulation of metabolites like lactate, contributing to an anabolic environment for muscle growth.
How to Incorporate Them Into Push Day
- Chest Focus: For example, after a set of bench presses, immediately switch to push-ups. You’re utilizing the pre-fatigue from benching to deepen the impact of the push-ups and maximize your chest growth.
If We Had to Name One, The Close-Grip Incline Bench Press is the Best Push Day Exercise
In the kingdom of Push Day exercises, if one exercise could wear the crown, many would nominate the close-grip incline bench press.
This powerful exercise is often hailed as the monarch for its multi-targeted approach, hitting the chest, triceps, and shoulders all in one royal swoop.
Why It Reigns Supreme:
- Chest Activation: The incline angle targets the upper pectorals, a region often underdeveloped by flat bench presses.
- Tricep Engagement: The close grip shifts the workload onto the triceps, demanding extra effort and promoting significant growth.
- Shoulder Sculpting: The incline position also calls the deltoids into action, particularly the front heads, adding to the exercise’s upper body benefits.
Incorporating this exercise into your routine can lead to notable improvements in strength, muscular endurance, and aesthetic definition. It’s a versatile move that can be adjusted for beginners to advanced lifters, making it a staple in any effective Push Day workout.
Revamping Your Push Day Exercises: Modifications for Every Level
Keeping your Push Day fresh and challenging is essential for continuous muscle growth and to avoid hitting a plateau.
Here are several ways to modify your routine, ensuring that your muscles keep guessing and you stay engaged:
- Change the Order: Mix up the sequence of exercises. Starting with a different muscle group each Push Day can alter the intensity and focus of your workout.
- Plyometrics: Include plyometric exercises like clapping push-ups to introduce an explosive element to your routine, enhancing muscle power.
- Experiment with Tempo: Slow down your reps to increase time under tension or add explosive movements to promote power. For example, try a 3-second descent followed by a 1-second press on the bench press.
- Introduce New Equipment: Incorporate resistance bands or chains into your barbell exercises to add progressive resistance and challenge your muscles at different points of the lift
- Go Unilateral: Perform exercises one arm at a time, like single-arm shoulder presses or one-arm push-ups, to correct imbalances and increase core engagement.
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