Ditch the Bench Lines on Mondays

Many of us know the feeling of waiting around for an open bench press on busy days at the gym.  Mondays always seemed to be the worst back when were following the 'bodybuilder routine'.  But over the last few years, we've left the bench lines in favor of a superior alternative – the push-up.   

We prefer the push-up over the bench press because it is a much more natural movement.  In reality, how often do you find yourself lying on the ground trying to move a weight off your chest?  The push-up translates well to many other movements used in sports and everyday life (which is one reason why the U.S. Military incorporates it so heavily during training).  It’s also safer – many athletes develop rotator cuff injuries or strain their elbow or wrist joints from too much benching.  Furthermore, while primarily working the pecs, deltoids and triceps, the push-up engages many stabilizer muscles (lats, spinal muscles, abs, hips, glutes, quads) that the bench press cannot.

You might be thinking "I do push-ups occasionally but I’m not going to get stronger unless I add weight."  That’s BS!  There are plenty of ways to increase the intensity of push-ups.  I’ve heard stories of gymnasts, who train with nothing more than their bodies and a set of rings, benching over 300lbs the first time they ever touch a weight.

Try doing push-ups with a set of rings or TRX straps and let us know if you can do more than 5 your first time.  Work your way up to a 3-clap push-up, Aztec push-up and one-armed push-up.  And if you can eventually do a planche push-up, you'll have more upper body strength than many bodybuilders.

Here’s a cool video showing 19 different push-up variations.  Incorporate some of these into your routine to add new challenges, break through plateaus, and keep your workouts fun.

For a workout that will leave your body sore for days, try this one below.  You can substitute another variation from the video above if you don't have a pair of rings or a TRX system required for a couple of these exercises.  If 10 reps each is too much to chomp down on, use a smaller rep count.  Rest as needed but get through the whole thing.  Good luck!

  • 10 regular push-ups
  • 10 clapping push-ups
  • 10 decline push-ups
  • 10 medicine ball push-ups
  • 10 ring push-ups
  • 10 wide grip push-up
  • 10 diamond push-ups
  • 10 hindu (or dive bomber)  push-ups - see above video for demo
  • 10 archer push-ups (5 each side) - see video above for demo
  • 10 single leg push-ups (5 each leg)

Further reading suggestion - Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade.  He describes the push-up as "the ultimate upper body exercise."

Written by Ryan