Push-ups are well known in fitness and calisthenics. For beginners in calisthenics it could be challenging start with a regular push-up. Besides beginners it could be difficult to perform the push-up for people who are having wrist injuries. In this article we are going to look at 5 alternatives to push-ups to make sure you can target those chest muscles.
#1 (Bench) Dips
Bodyweight dips are one of the best compound exercise in calisthenics. They primarily focus on the triceps, chest, shoulders and of-course your core stability. Sounds familiar? Yes, those are the same muscles we use for doing Push-ups.
For beginners it could be challenging to do a full bodyweight dip. Therefore, we’d recommend the bench dip. This is an easier alternative of the bodyweight dip exercise.
To clarify, Dip exercises are often harder to perform than a push-up. But on the other hand, the dip is great alternative to the push-up because your wrist isn’t forced in maximal palmar flexion. You’ll of-course load your wrist, but in a more efficient way. It’s important to perform the dip exercise with a good technique before you start.
As a last tip for beginners you could use a resistance band. In this way you could increase your reps and sets.
#2 Straight arm planks
This is one of the most underrated alternative to the push-up. Why? Because people think it’s easy. And Guess what it isn’t! To perform this exercise, you need to place your hands shoulder with, elbows straight, core tight and your glutes needs activation. It’s actually the same position as the push-up technique with no movement. Other names for this exercise are: isometric straight arm push-up hold, isometric planche hold or just the easy plank.
If you are here because you have a wrist injury, make sure you use push-up handles or calisthenics parallettes to support your wrist in a perfect position.
With isometric exercises you’ll always try to reach the maximum amount of time with the perfect form. This means if you are a beginner you could start with, for example, 5 sets of 10 seconds. After two days you could be able to increase the time in some sets.
#3 Resistance band Forward press
This is probably the easiest exercise of this list of alternative push-up exercises. It totally depends on your physique goal how you’ll execute this exercise. whether you are here for gaining muscle mass, lose weight or retrain your shoulder stability, it’s always a good idea to start with a proper resistance band. Our advice is using the red resistance band from Gornation. Make sure you are able to do this exercise 5 sets and 30 repetitions. If this one is too easy, you obviously should increase with a heavier resistance band.
Start the exercise by attaching the resistance band at a medium-low bar, a door handle or by using Gornation’s door anchor. Stand in the loop of the band, few steps forward and extend your elbows. Thereafter, you’ll start by pushing the band away from your body and slowly back to your chest. At the end, this is one of the easiest alternatives to push-ups.
In addition, you could add this exercise to your calisthenics warm-up, since it’s a low intensive movement which you can boost your heartbeat at the beginning of a training. If you progress, please use a heavier resistance band. This will definitely make you go nuts!
#4 Ring Chest Fly
Face away from the anchor with your feet shoulder-width apart. The anchor (placement where you attached the rings or suspension trainer) is behind you. Grab the rings with an overhand grip and extend your elbows in front of you slightly lower than shoulder height. Lean forward (as low as you can go), until your body is in control and your body is diagonally aligned to the floor. With all your control, spread your arms out to a “T” (but keep your elbows slightly bent). When you are able to get closer to the ground, you’ll seriously target your chest muscles. Reverse the movement to return to start for the next repetition.
If you are not able to afford gymnastic rings (only €35,00), you could skip this alternative and go to exercise 5.
#5 Resistance Band Chest Fly
Stand straight and upward. Abduct your shoulders to 90 degree and place the resistance band behind you. Hold the band on both sides and hold your hands open, facing toward each other. To execute the movement, you need to bring your hand palms to each other. Similarly, to the resistance band forward press you’ll need to challenge yourself in this great push-up alternative. It could be really easy if you use a light resistance bands. Go for the green resistance band from Gornation and you’ll experience difficulty to activate your chest muscles.
If you are here because you can’t do a push-up, because lack of technique you should definitely check our article on how to master the push-up. On the other hand if you are someone who often suffers from wrist injuries due push-ups you could check the 5 common mistakes in push-ups you need to avoid. To conclude, each exercise that will target your chest muscle is a good alternative to push-ups.
You learned that you could progress and regress these 5 exercises by using resistance band, changing body position and by making a larger range of motion. If this is something you understand, I’m 100% sure you could invent 100 other exercises that are alternatives to push-ups.