Best Push Up Workout Routine: Chest & Abs

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One of the classic chest exercises is the push up, so I created a push up workout for you that thoroughly engages your chest and abs. I also have a couple more push up workout ideas at the bottom of this article. For an intro video on push ups, check out How To Use Proper Push Up Form.

Push Up Workout Instructions:

 Push Up Workout Routine Instructions

Push Up Workout Circuit:

What I enjoy about the following workout is that you hit your entire chest muscle effectively with the different hand positions, while engaging your shoulders and triceps as well. On top of the benefits to your “pushing muscles”, by alternating with abs movements, you can get an intense abs burn. If you think about it, a push up is like a moving plank, so you can get a very intense abs burn while still focusing on your push up workout.

Push Up Workout Exercise #1: Wide Grip Pushup

 Push Up Workout Routine #1

Push Up Workout Exercise #2: V Ups

For a video demonstration of V Ups, check out this video: V Ups Abs Exercise.

 Push Up Workout Routine #2

Push Up Workout Exercise #3: Medium Grip Pushups

 Push Up Workout Routine #3

Push Up Workout Exercise #4: Reverse Crunch

 Push Up Workout Routine #4

Push Up Workout Exercise #5: Close Grip Pushup

 Push Up Workout Routine #5

My hands are not that close together, so feel free to do a diamond push up, or bring your hands a little closer together without putting too much pressure on your wrists and shoulders.

Push Up Workout Exercise #6: Bicycles

 Push Up Workout Routine #6

Other Push Up Workout Ideas:

The above workout routine is just an example of many different options that are available. Here are a couple more push up workout ideas to try that use a similar framework as the jump rope workouts that I do:

“Pick A Number” Push Up Workout:

My favorite push up workout is very simple. All you do is choose a number, let’s say 150 push ups, then you do as many sets as you need to hit that number while resting about 30 seconds between each set. However many sets it takes you to get to the 150, than that’s how many you have to do. You can then either increase the number, or try decreasing the number of sets it takes you to get to the number you have chosen. This is the classic workout that I did every day for an entire year when I was a teenager, and I still do it now!

“Mix It Up” Push Up Workout:

One way to make the push up a little more dynamic is to choose 3, or 5 variations and complete a few sets of each. That’s a total of 9 to 15 sets of push ups that engage your chest, shoulder, triceps, and core slightly differently. If you haven’t seen my 10 Push Up Variations video, you should check it out (just be careful with the Aztec Push Up!).

Hope these ideas were helpful for you. If you try any of these workouts, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

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69 Comments on “Best Push Up Workout Routine: Chest & Abs

  1. Mike
    April 27, 2011 #

    V-ups & reverse crunch are the best abs exercises I have ever done. I always change up my circuit routine every few weeks, but I feel like I get the best results with those 2 moves.

    1. Marc Perry
      April 27, 2011 #

      @Mike – Thanks for the comment. I think they are both great exercises as well assuming someone has strong enough abs to do them properly. I find it’s tough to engage the lower abs, but the v-ups and reverse crunch work really well.

    2. Navkiran Singh
      July 7, 2012 #

      Sir,i want to know can push ups help to devolp chest?

      1. July 9, 2012 #

        @Navrikian singh – Yes, push ups can definitely help develop the chest. In fact, some top athletes like Herschel Walker (a former NFL player and heisman trophy winner – see this article with more info about him – Inspirational Fitness Photos Of Men over 40, 50, and 60!. There was also research out recently which points to the fact that heavy weights are not necessary to build bigger muscles – Build Muscle Without Heavy Weights?. If you are able to add more volume over time by doing more push ups and harder variations (See 10 Push Up Variations), and you eat more calories than you burn with ample protein, you should over time be able to add muscle mass to your chest just by doing push ups.

  2. Adam
    April 27, 2011 #

    Marc – what do you mean by “outer”, “middle”, and “inner” chest? The pec muscle fibers run from the sternum across to the humerus – how can you isolate a portion of the muscle fibers with altering hand positions on a pushup?

    1. Marc Perry
      April 27, 2011 #

      @Adam – That’s a great question. I just changed the “outer, middle, and inner” phrase I wrote in the first paragraph to avoid confusion.

      What I mean is that it’s possible to engage certain areas of your muscle more intensely than others. For example, your rectus abdominus is one long muscle that contracts every time you contract your abs, but it’s possible to engage the lower portion more than the upper portion depending on the exercise.

      When doing wide grip pushups, the emphasis is on the outer portion of the chest and the close grip, the emphasis is on the inner portion. Physiologically, there are really only two chest muscles, the pectoralis major and minor, and the major is sometimes separated into upper, middle, and lower.

      Hope that clears things up!

  3. May 3, 2011 #

    Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet, can’t wait to get ripped.

  4. Toni
    July 3, 2011 #

    These exercises are good for women too. Building the pectoral muscles helps to counteract the sagging of the breast tissue that can sometimes can occur after multiple pregnancies or just the natural aging process. But I have to admit that occasionally I do the “girl-version” of the pushup. Is there still a benefit if I don’t always the ‘full-version’?

    1. Marc Perry
      July 4, 2011 #

      @Toni – I do certainly think there is a benefit as long as doing knee push ups is challenging for you. If you are struggling at all, then it may be too easy. I’ve actually done plyometric knee push ups with a lot of guys. Just a thought.

  5. Mo
    October 28, 2011 #

    Great video Marc (as always), I do have a quick question though; you talk about overuse injuries and I get that, but I’ve also heard it said that for the most effective ways to get lean, cardio should be done almost everyday (I may have read that in one of your articles, not sure). So would it be safer, for example, to do this chest and abs circuit on alternating days like saturdays, mondays and wednesdays, and your “10 Minute Cardio Workout Using Step Ups” on sundays, tuesdays and thursdays, leaving one day for rest?

    1. Marc Perry
      October 31, 2011 #

      @Mo – In an ideal world, your exercise routine would be more well rounded. I personally work out 3x per week. If you want to workout 6x per week, here’s an example of what an exercise routine could look like:

      2 Traditional Strength Training workouts
      1 metabolic workout
      2 interval training cardio workouts (using different cardio equipment) + Yoga/flexbility + Myofascial Release
      1 Long jog/active recovery + Yoga/flexbility + myofascial release

      The problem is that doing only pushup/abs 3x per week, you are only working 2 of the 5 movement patterns. Check out my facebook video if you haven’t yet: http://www.facebook.com/builtlean. If you are not on Facebook, this article is also worth reading: http://www.builtlean.com/2010/09/11/20-minute-full-body-circuit-training-workout/. If you choose to do this workout 2x-3x per week, but still use the other movement patterns, that could definitely work.

      I’ve never recommended cardio every day, so you must have read that somewhere else. In fact, the traditional form of cardio (30-60 minutes of low intensity exercise) is almost completely unnecessary for someone in good shape who can do interval training and intense metabolic workouts.

  6. koza
    November 6, 2011 #

    hey marc, i’m starting your workout as of tomorrow!!! i would like you though to tell me, how i can put it in a three time a week workout!! for example, i can max at 40 push ups at the moment. is there any way you can take time to tell me how many reps and sets i should be doing knowing that number. and i also want to include pull ups in my workout. any suggestions???

    1. Marc Perry
      November 7, 2011 #

      @koza – The goal is to max out on every exercise. Do as many as you can do. During the workout, the number of reps you will be able to complete will go down from around 40, to like 10. As I state in the article, I prefer doing 3 sets of each push up exercise paired with 3 sets of each abs exercise. Sure, you can include pullups before doing abs (I used to do this ALL the time), so you do push ups, then pull ups, then abs. If you add in pull ups, just keep in mind doing 27 total sets is a lot vs. 18 total sets with just push ups and abs.

  7. Johnny
    December 29, 2011 #

    I’ve read the whole article and i have a few questions 1) whats more effective for chest, slow or fast push ups because if i do my push ups fast i can get to 30 but if i do them slowly i would only reach something like 10 without struggling. 2) you’ve said do these excercises 3-4x per week because then you dont over workout but what about i do these 3-4x per week but in the other 3-4 days of the week i would do excercises only aimed at the abs. Would that be a good or a bad idea? 3) can you over workout your abs? 4) when doing any excercise should you do it quickly to do more reps and burn more fat or should you do it slowly and calmly?

    1. Marc Perry
      January 4, 2012 #

      @Jonny – Rep tempo is an interesting question. Generally speaking, tempo should be 2-0-1, which means 1 second negative, no pause, then 1 second positive. So as you push up is 1 second, you don’t pause, then lower yourself for around 2 seconds. Faster on the way up may help improve fat loss because faster reps are more metabolic. With that said, if you are looking to lose body fat, doing push up and abs workout may do little to help you out. Losing fat is primarily a nutrition challenge. Definitely check out my free Get Lean Guide for more info: http://www.builtlean.com/getlean/. Also, check out the video on my Facebook page which shows up after you like the page: http://www.facebook.com/builtlean/

  8. Eloka
    May 6, 2012 #

    please which exercise is more effective for my chest region because i want to convert fat around my chest area to a nice and enviable chest. I need your advice

    1. May 8, 2012 #

      @Eloka – I would focus on losing fat without losing muscle. Unfortunately, there is no exercise that can reduce fat specifically on your chest region. It’s mostly a nutrition problem. Check out my Get Lean Guide for more information which you can access right after inputting your email address.

  9. Shyam
    May 12, 2012 #

    Thanks for the exercises. But u know i have a big tummy and i need to get rid of it.. could you help me on what exercises i must do?

    1. May 12, 2012 #

      Shyam – Focus on your diet if you want to lose fat. The primary purpose of exercise from a fat loss perspective is NOT to burn calories, but to preserve your lean muscle tissue as you lose fat.

  10. Owen
    May 13, 2012 #

    Marc, this was a very good article. I am always looking for new things I can adapt into my workout routine. Every 3 weeks I change up what I do, how much I do, and how often I do it and this is a great little thing to toss into my workouts when I am short handed on time or can’t actually make it too the gym. I am a college student studying Kinesiology and one day want to own a gym, personal train, or do strength and conditioning in a school setting, and I definetly see this going into my training regiment for a potential client, student, or member. Thanks man

    1. alex
      May 15, 2012 #

      Hi I am wondering if you could help me I want to get a big upper body and I am strugeling I do 100 pushups every night do you have a plan for me please I weigh 65kg and I can’t get in the gym thnax

      1. May 18, 2012 #

        @alex – I need to write a muscle building article very soon as your question is one I get very frequently and it’s best answered in a long article then a short comment. With that said, in order to build muscle, you need to eat ample protein and calories to help fuel your body to grow larger and at the same time increase the intensity of your workouts and stimulate your muscles by either (1) increasing the volume of your workout, which means instead of doing 100 push ups, you do 150, then 200, then 300 etc. and (2) lift more wight – so you could use a weighted vest to add more resistance. Good luck!

    2. alex
      May 15, 2012 #

      Hi I am wondering if you could help me I want to get a big upper body and I am strugeling I do 100 pushups every night do you have a plan for me please I weigh 65kg and I can’t get in the gym I bought myself an iron gym but it doesn’t seem to work what is the fastess and most affective way to get a great upper body

  11. Lucky
    June 3, 2012 #

    Great workout thanks!!! Anyways quick question, what do you mean by 3-5 cycles?

    1. June 7, 2012 #

      @Lucky – What I mean by a cycle is that each 6 exercises is one cycle, so you can do all 6 exercises for a few different rounds, or cycles.

  12. June 12, 2012 #

    Marc, I am a fourteen year old male 5’3″ and I would really like to build muscle in my arms, chest, and stomach. I believe I weigh around 103lbs. I have a small layer of fat on my stomach that I would also like to get rid of to be able to get abs. Can you please help me and tell me what sort of excercises and workouts I should be doing to get bigger? I’m tired of being so skinny and frail looking, your help would be greatly appreciated thanks.

    1. June 14, 2012 #

      @Miguel – I’m going to have to answer your question with a “say tuned”. In the meantime, you can check out this Q&A I did for Men’s Fitness on How to Get Bigger.

  13. Matt
    June 13, 2012 #

    This article has lead me to some of your other articles. Its really good stuff and your writing style is clear and has great flow to it. Thank you.

    I have a question about exercises that you do at home without tools (weights, etc.). Coupled with good nutrition, are exercises that use your body weight as resistance adequate? In other words, I don’t have access to gym equipment and would like to know if exclusively doing pushups, v-ups, crunches etc is enough or if I need to do more.

    1. June 14, 2012 #

      @Matt – Thanks for the compliments regarding my website. I love body weight exercises and I think they can be adequate to help you get a strong, lean, and muscular physique. The challenge is figuring out ways to progress the body weight exercises and make them harder so you keep on getting stronger and getting results. You should also seriously consider adding in plyometrics into your exercise routine. Finally, a weighted vest can add weight without the needs for a full set of weights.

      jump squats
      jump lunges
      push ups
      pull ups
      planks

      The idea is to do an exercise for every movement pattern (i.e. squat, lunge, vertical and horizontal push, vertical and horizontal pull, and twist, and bend)

  14. brent
    June 13, 2012 #

    I am 17 years old and I leave for basic training in 11 months I weigh 200,pounds sadly… But that being said what are the best foods to eat to avoid fat because I need to het down to170 pounds.

    1. June 14, 2012 #

      @brent – the short answer is to eat real food that was not made by man. A famous fitness icon used to say, “If man made it, don’t eat it”. For more on this concept, check out these articles Empty Calories At A Grocery Store Near You! + The (New) 5 Food Groups to Get Lean & Healthy? + Top 10 Fat Loss Foods.

  15. Koko
    June 14, 2012 #

    Hello marc , i would like to know if i should do this routine three times a week and i’m thinking about rest or stretching exercices in the other days , i’m not fat but i would like to have a good looking abs and increase my chest muscles ?
    thank you :)

    1. June 14, 2012 #

      @koko – you certainly can do this routine a few times per week, just keep in mind not to neglect the other very important movement patterns such as the pulling motion (i.e. pull ups and rows), vertical pushing motion, squats, and lunges. For more, check out this post – 20 Minute Full Body Circuit Training Workout

  16. Koko
    June 15, 2012 #

    Thank you for your answer :)

    i’m soon to be 18 (2 august) and i’m 5.83 tall and i weigh 153 pounds should i get fet some weight in order to build a nice chest and abs or is my weight already good to get ripped ?

    i appreciate your help , thank you so much and keep up the good work :D

    1. June 18, 2012 #

      @Koko – It’s tough for me to say without physically seeing you, but my guess is you don’t have to be huge to get a well defined and muscular chest along with a six pack. Somewhere around your weight level should be fine.

  17. Jeremy
    June 26, 2012 #

    Hello Marc, I found your website really informative and useful. I am “get-set-ready” for some fat loss exercises.

    I’m a 22 yr old male , 5’9″ tall. My chest has accumulated fat and it looks weird if you know what I mean…It is quite embarrassing when I wear tight t-shirts. Could you please suggest me some routines in order flatten that region.

    Your help would be highly appreciated.

    1. June 28, 2012 #

      @Jeremy – Unfortunately, it’s not possible to spot reduce, meaning losing fat off of on particular part of your body. Where fat is lost as you lose fat is genetically predetermined. If you focus on losing fat without losing muscle, the fat will eventually come off your problem areas, such as your chest.

  18. Slappy
    June 26, 2012 #

    Thanks for the tips and videos. Question: Men’s Health has an article (Google it) about a 3-minute pushup challenge. They say anything below 55 pushups in 3 minutes (resting whenever you want but keep the clock running) is below average, 55-74 is average, and 75 and above is good to excellent.

    Do you concur with that range? And does it matter if these are wide/medium/close in this kind of test?

    I’m 57 years old this year, and I find I can do a good set of 20-25 in a steady pace without resting, but then I need to rest and my stamina just doesn’t hold up entirely before the three minutes is up. I end up around 42-45 total in that time frame, which they say is below average. What happens is I’ll do my first 25, then rest for 30 seconds or so, but then my next set is very much diminished before I run out of gas. Rest again. And then I really struggle to do a couple (and I mean a couple!) before time runs out at the end — I feel totally drained.

    I just watched some ripped dude who is a coach, too, and he managed to do 67 in three minutes — just “average” according to Men’s Health.

    Your thoughts on this whole 3-Minute test?

    1. June 28, 2012 #

      @Slappy – It’s really funny you ask this question, because I remember seeing an article by Men’s Health about testing how fit you are (I think it’s the same article probably) and I was shocked at the ranges they are giving. I think the ranges they are giving are absurd. Hope that answers your question. I think a 30/40/50 would be better.

  19. June 27, 2012 #

    Marc, I would like to know what to do to be able to lose the small “love handles” I have, not to mention the small layer of fat in my belly preventing me from seeing my abs. I don’t have access to weights because I am still a teen and would not like to stunt my growth. Can you help me by telling me what to do to loose the unwanted fat and get abs?

    1. June 28, 2012 #

      @Octavio – focus on losing fat without losing muscle is your best bet. Check out my free Get Lean Guide for more information.

  20. tjay
    June 28, 2012 #

    I’m 15 years old (16 in September), I’m 5 ft 10, about 135 pounds, my abs are visible but not properly defined, i am pretty strong for my age, but i want to put more mass on my shoulders, triceps and chest….i have a pretty good diet, i eat a lot of chicken and more different meats…….. I have dumbbells and a barbell, no other equipment….what kind of workout should I do to put on more mass?

    1. June 28, 2012 #

      @tjay – you can check out this program – Muscle Gaining Secrets

  21. Dec
    July 1, 2012 #

    Hi there marc,

    What is the best exercise that you can give for reducing belly fat? And does doing push up and chest work out with dumbells good? Because some says if you do push up u should not do any chest work out with dumbells..is that true?

    1. July 2, 2012 #

      @Dec – There is no best exercise for losing belly fat. Doesn’t exist. I would recommend full body strength training workouts and high intensity interval training such as sprinting, both of which can help you burn more fat and increase your metabolism a bit. Keep in mind nutrition in my opinion is responsible for at least 80% of your results. That’s why it’s so important to focus on nutrition and eating quality calories and less calorie than you burn!

  22. Koko
    July 6, 2012 #

    Hey marc :D
    i’m back again with another question lol i wanted to do this exercice twice per week but since i don’t have much time i only did it twice per week for two weeks now and that’s because wednseday and friday i have football training so whenever i reach friday i feel the need to save some energy for my football match so i only do this excercice monday and wednesday
    what do you think of this ? and how should i schedule this workout into my week ? how many times should i do it per week ?

    thank again :D

    1. July 9, 2012 #

      @Koko – I would do this workout on opposite days when you are not training if possible, but it’s up to you. And yes, I wouldn’t do the workout on the day of your football match, or even the day before. 2x per week is a good start, just make sure you are doing other functional movements including squats, lunges, pulling (horizontal and vertical). Good luck!

  23. Max
    July 11, 2012 #

    Hi Marc, I wish to start your exercise tomorrow. but i have 1 quick question for you, does this help to build a square chest too? as in the upper chest ?
    Thanks =]

    1. July 12, 2012 #

      @Max – This is a general push up workout that should build your entire chest muscle assuming you are making the workout a little bit harder over time – (exercise progression)

  24. Silvian Popusoi
    July 15, 2012 #

    Hi Marc, I know this has nothing to do with push-ups but is there anything I can do to increase in PULL-UPS? I can only do 2 or 3.

    1. July 19, 2012 #

      @Silvian – I’ve been dying to do a post on pull ups, so thanks for reminding me! The short answer is to slowly but surely build up your strength. So you start out with let’s say 5 sets of 1-2 pullups, then each week you try to do just an extra couple pull ups each time. Additionally, losing fat without losing muscle will make your body lighter, which can help a lot. I know this isn’t much of a description, but I really need to do a video on how to do more pull ups.

      1. Silvian
        July 19, 2012 #

        That actually help A LOT! Thanks

  25. Tanmay Absorto
    July 20, 2012 #

    You are awesome dude. i just want to know that what kind of workout i have to do to make my ribcage bigger.actually my rib cage is not so wide. thats why when i ware any shirt i look skinny. so plz bro solve my porbs

    1. July 25, 2012 #

      @Tanmare – Unfortunately, it’s not possible to expand your rib cage because our bones stop growing around 20 years old and it’s not possible to increase the length of your bones with exercise. You can, however, increase the appearance of thickness in your torso by developing your lats, serratus, traps, and chest muscle. These muscles help your upper body look more massive.

      Here are some exercises that can help you increas back/chest thickness when combined with exercise progression and proper nutrition:

      Chest Exercises
      Barbell Bench
      Incline DB Bench
      Push Ups

      Back Exercises
      Barbell Bent Over Rows
      Single Arm Dumbbell Rows
      Deadlift (be careful, consider sumo style, or trap bar deadlift)
      DB Pull Overs (back & chest)

  26. tanmay absorto
    July 27, 2012 #

    thanks a lot Marc. i will follow the chart that you have given. i will feedback after a few weeks. carry on bro . u r superb

  27. Tanmay Absorto
    July 28, 2012 #

    there is one more problem Marc. my two arms are not equally muscular. actually my right arm is more muscular than left one. so how can i make those equal?

    1. August 2, 2012 #

      @Tanmay – That’s a tough one. The best bet is to try to use dumbbells to help correct the muscle imbalances and secondly to make sure you keep your form identical on both sides of your body. For example, you may shrug your shoulders on one side while you do push ups, which is a common compensation.

  28. Bryan Marthin
    August 1, 2012 #

    Hi Marc, I started this workout few days ago and i think this is a really great exercise. I just wondered, is alternating between push ups and sit ups better than doing 3 sets of push ups then do 3 sets of sit ups after the push ups? Will the results be the same or different?

  29. Alex Raf
    August 4, 2012 #

    hi,Mark
    great article..of u tell me what is the perfect distance between two hand in push ups..

    1. August 9, 2012 #

      @Alex Raf – there is no perfect distance, because different hand grips change the exercise, which I do frequently. With that said, the military push up requires that your hands be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and slightly below your shoulders, similar to how I am demonstrating in the video.

  30. conrad Jones
    August 4, 2012 #

    Hi Mark Perry,

    How many times a week to do this workout?

    Conrad Jones

    1. August 9, 2012 #

      Conrad – I’ve answered this same question I’m guessing a few times in the comments of this article. Short answer is to think in movement patterns. Think 2-3x per week could work well for you.

  31. tanmay absorto
    August 5, 2012 #

    @marc.
    thanks big bro. i will obviously follow the way u have shown . rock on bro

  32. karl
    August 12, 2012 #

    Hi Marc, I am 14 years old and I want to know if is good for me to have a chest and abs,can you tell me a good way to have a chest and abs fast not to big and same for the abs if that possible.
    thank u

    1. August 16, 2012 #

      @karl – Please read our free Get Lean Guide. Focus on losing fat without losing muscle.

  33. Ruben
    August 15, 2012 #

    Hi, Great article.
    I have a silly question.
    can I do push-ups every day?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    1. August 16, 2012 #

      @Ruben – Yes, you can. Check out this article (the bottom Q&A) Muscle Soreness: Recovery & Treatment and this one with Herschel Walker Inspirational Fitness Photos Of Men over 40, 50, and 60!.

  34. Nick
    August 15, 2012 #

    Hey Marc,

    I am trying this routine but it is difficult for me to do a push-up of any kind because my elbows hurt, do you have any ideas that might make push-ups easier on elbows?

    thanks

    1. August 16, 2012 #

      @Nick – That’s a tough one. You may need to get your elbows checked out by a doctor/physical therapist. It’s possible you may have tightness in a muscle that is pulling on your elbow (such as your biceps). With that said, using proper push up form as I describe in my push up video – Proper Push Up Form: How To Do A Push Up.

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