Upper Body Workouts: 8 Best Push-Ups for Bigger Chest Muscles

Upper body workouts

It’s hard not to think of push-ups when we think of building stronger chest and arm muscles with your own body weight. And for good reason. The push-up is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises

It not only works your chest muscles but also strengthens your triceps, your deltoids, and your entire core. To a certain extent, it even works your glutes, quads, and small stabilizing muscles in your upper back.

An additional benefit is that you can do push-ups anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a gym to effectively train your chest muscles.

Benefits of stronger chest muscles

We may not give our chest or pectoral muscles much thought in our everyday life, but stronger pecs help us do a lot of our basic movements. Strong chest muscles can help with tasks such as getting up off the floor or opening a door.

Your chest muscles also play an important role in your posture and stabilizing your shoulders. Things like being on your phone or computer all day can cause your pectoral muscles to become tight, which can create a hunched posture. 

By incorporating these exercises into your next workout, your chest muscles can loosen up and grow stronger, which in turn can improve your posture!

Before you rush into doing the targeted chest push-ups below, be sure to keep in mind the proper way to perform a push-up in order to avoid injury and get the most out of every repetition.

Proper push-up form:

  • Place your hands directly below your shoulders
  • Keep your head, back, and butt in a straight line
  • Extend your legs so the weight is on your toes
  • Engage your core and glutes
  • Pull your shoulder blades down and back
  • Lower your body in a controlled manner until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle
  • Keep your elbows tucked in close to your body throughout the exercise


You can see videos of all the individual exercises, including push-ups, in the adidas Training app under the “Workouts” tab. You’ll see the best way to do push-ups if you want to strengthen your chest muscles. 

The 8 Best Push-Ups for Bigger Chest Muscles

Have you mastered push-ups? Ready to take it to the next level? Then try out these eight challenging push-up variations for a tough chest workout:

1. Clap Push-up

Athletic man doing Clap Push-ups

How to do this exercise:

In this and all of the following exercises, you should begin in a push-up position. For clap push-ups, the name says it all. Lower yourself down just like in a standard push-up. When pushing back up, use enough force so that you can lift your hands off of the floor. Clap your hands together in front of you. Be sure to land with soft elbows after the clap! 

As always, core control is crucial when performing this push-up variation correctly. Don’t be afraid to start out on your knees or on an incline to get the hang of the timing or to decrease the intensity of this exercise.

2. Stagger Plyo Push-up

Athletic man doing Stagger Plyo Push-ups.

How to do this exercise:

Set yourself up to start in a standard push-up position, but instead of placing your hands under your shoulders, place them in a staggered stance, with one in front of you at about your head level and the other closer to your hips. Lower yourself down in a push-up motion and jump to switch the position of your hands after every push-up. 

If this movement is too explosive or challenging for you. Simply switch your hands without the “jump” until you’re able to work your way up.

3. X-tap Push-up

Athletic man doing X-tap Push-ups

How to do this exercise:

This is the next step after you master the clap push-up! For this exercise, the key is to push up with enough force to be able to cross your arms and tap your chest in an “X” and then safely and gently land back down.

Keep in mind you really have to get some air in this push-up variation! So be sure to engage your upper body muscles and core.

4. Double Knee Tap Push-up

Athletic man doing Double Knee Tap Push-ups

How to do this exercise:

This is the toughest push-up exercise on this list, but also one of the most effective to strengthen your chest muscles!

Perform a regular push-up motion, but when lifting back up, exert enough force to lift your hands and feet off the ground and also bring your knees up to your chest. To complete this move, tap your hands to your knees when they come up and land back down in a push-up position. Don’t forget to engage your lower abs and lift your butt up while pulling your knees in.

5. Clap Behind Push-up

Athletic man doing Clap Behind Push-ups.

How to do this exercise:

This variation does require some shoulder mobility and flexibility. So be sure to really warm-up your shoulders before trying this out. A good warm-up exercise would be plank to downward facing dog.

To do this exercise, do the same movement as a classic push-up. When lifting back up, exert enough force to lift your hand off the ground and clap them behind your back. Place your hands back down under your shoulders and bend your elbows to stabilize and cushion your landing. 

6. Superman Push-up

Athletic man doing Superman Push-ups.

How to do this exercise:

The trick to this exercise is to try to get your biceps by your ears when reaching your arms out. And don’t forget to bring your hands back down. Perform a classic push-up movement, but when lifting up, exert enough force to lift your arms and legs off of the ground at the same time. Give it a try!

7. Archer Push-up

Athletic man doing Archer Push-ups.

How to do this exercise:

Place your arms wider than shoulderwidth apart when performing this push-up variation. Notice that when lowering yourself down only one arm is bending during the exercise. The other arm should have a slight bend at the elbow but be fairly straight. Repeat the movement on both arms, alternating bending one arm only and then the other.

8. One-Arm Push-up

Athletic man doing Archer Push-ups.

How to do this exercise:

This chest muscle exercise isn’t just for showing off. It’s actually a great way to challenge your muscles. 

Start in a push-up position but be sure to place your feet further apart than usual, creating a wide stance. This really helps with the stabilization of the whole body when you do this move. Place your weight on one arm and put the other on the back of your thigh. Lower yourself down in a slow and careful motion. Lift back up and repeat the move on the other side.

Create your perfect upper-body workout

Ready to take on these upper body exercises for stronger chest muscles? Give it your best shot! Start with the classic push-up to really master the starting form of these push-up exercises. Once you’ve done that, incorporate some of these moves into your next upper-body workout. 

Need inspiration to put a complete upper body workout together? Try the adidas Training Workout Creator. Select your workout duration, the muscle group you want to target, your difficulty level, and what equipment you want to use. You’ll get a custom workout to help you get closer to your fitness goals.


Herwig Natmessnig As a former professional athlete (whitewater slalom), Herwig lives for fitness. Whether in competition or just for fun, he can never turn down a challenge. View all posts by Herwig Natmessnig