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The Best Upper Body Exercise

Posted Mar 10 2010 12:35pm


A lot of gym rats might be able to load up the bar with hundreds of pounds for endless sets of the bench press but can’t even do 10 correct push ups…

I don’t think you have any business bench pressing if you can’t properly perform 20 perfect pushups.

If you can’t handle your own bodyweight, how functional is it to lie down on a bench and press additional weight?

Don’t get me wrong, the basic barbell bench press is a great upper body exercise for building muscle , but it’s depended on WAY too much to build a strong chest and shoulders.

Most people consider Pushups and Bench Presses both chest dominant exercises. But there is a big difference between the two…

The bench press is an open chain exercise and the pushup is a closed chain exercise.

The “chain” just refers to the kinetic chain of your body, which simply means that all of your body’s muscles are inter-connected in a “chain” and therefore the movements you make are also part of a that kinetic chain.

Open chain exercises allow your feet or hands to move freely like in a bench press, dumbbell curl or leg curl.

Closed chain exercises keep your feet or hands in a fixed position like on the ground during pushups or squats and even chinups.

Closed chain exercises are safer and more effective for real world functional strength because they allow your bodyweight to move through space in a full range of motion while distributing muscular stress through many muscles instead of isolating and stressing single muscles.

A big reason why so many bench press addicts develop shoulder problems is because of not the shoulders directly but due to the lack of movement in your upper back when pinned to a bench during bench presses.

The muscles in your upper back surrounding your shoulders blades and scapula play a crucial role in stabilizing and allowing movement of your shoulder girdle during pressing movements.

Pushups eliminates this problem by allowing your upper back to contract in a full range of motion when you lower yourself to the ground.

Plus for busy dads bodyweight exercises are great because they can be done anywhere without any equipment!

(here is my favorite pressing exercise)

So if you want to incorporate a simple but intense pushup workout into your workout routine give the 100 rep pushup workout a try.

Once or twice a week at the end of your regular workout aim for performing 100 pushups and time yourself to see how long it takes you.

Do as many reps as you can and do however many sets it takes you to reach 100.

For example if you can do 20 pushups at one time before failure start with 20 but as you fatigue you will probably drop down to sets of 10. You will obviously need more rest between sets as you get closer to 100.

Take as much rest as you need to get at least 10 reps for each set until you reach the 100 rep mark.

Most guys in pretty good shape will be able to complete 100 reps anywhere between 5-10 minutes.

Don’t worry how long it takes you. Just record your time and push hard to beat it the next time around.

Before you know it you will join the pushup century club and have the perfect pecs to prove it!

Perfect Pushups Tips

*Keep your abs braced tight and your hips in line with your body.

*Tuck your chin in like a “double chin” and look straight down at the floor to form a straight line from your head to your toes.

*Push your elbows and upper arms back in a 45 degree direction opposed to straight out to your sides.

PS. Be sure to check out my training article in the April/May issue of Inside Fitness magazine!

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