I was told push-ups are good for the chest.

I tried some and don't quite feel it in my chest, the force is on my hands.

How should I do it to focus on the chest?

6 Answers 6


I tried some and don't quite effective to the chest, the force are on my hands.

That's the beauty of push up, we can train various muscles from push ups. I found this video about Chest Workout: Pushups for the Complete Beginner interesting.

How should I do it to focus on the chest?

I would suggest Wide Push ups to focus on our chest.

Wide Push ups

I took this pic from YAYOG book page 60.

Reference: You Are Your Own Gym. The Bible of BodyWeight Exercises for Men and Women by Mark Lauren.


Here's a good link with illustrations and videos for doing push ups.

Some simple things to remember:

  • wide hand position = working the outer chest/pecs
  • close hand position = working the inner chest/pecs.

You can vary intensity by elevating your hands (easier) or elevating your feet (harder). There are many push up variations including:

dive bombers, which are great for arms and shoulders:

dive bombers

ploymetric, for power

ploymetric push up

and single arm, for the core:

one arm push up


For body weight exercises, the push up or the push up using resistance bands is probably your best bet. Plyometric pushups will help build some explosive power. If, however, you have access to weights, you can do a lot better.

For a beginner, the barbell bench press will help do a lot of good for the chest as well as the arm muscles.

A bit later, dumbbell bench press will give you a better result as you are forced to bring the dumbbells together giving you a greater range of motion.

I'm not going to tell you what proportion you should shoot for on your bench press, because that proportion changes based on your weight. The key is to keep increasing weight as best you can.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that only working on the chest and not balancing that by working the upper back as well is a recipe for injury. A reverse pushup will balance normal pushups, and rows will balance bench presses.


Ahhh the ole push-up! One point worth adding is the best way to isolate the chest has more to with the angle and direction of arms as you go up and down.

Yes, a wider hand stance is better for the chest overall. You will notice by going wider your arms and elbows form a right angle to your body that is the correct methodology for chest development. As you go and up/down, your elbows fold directionally away from your body.

If when I lay on the ground, I put my hands on the ground at my shoulders and then as I began my push up, I kept my elbows and arm fold back, I would be moving stress away from my chest and shifting it primarily to my triceps, shoulders and then chest. If I keep my elbows at a right or 90 degree angle I will maintain the chest and the primary muscle group.

This true of push ups' cousin "the dip" as well!

So, elbows back equals triceps-shoulders-chest. Elbows at a more forward/90 degree/right angle position will emphasize the chest more!


I would suggest dumbbell flys instead. They really work the chest muscles.

See Also: Chest Exercises it suggests several chest oriented exercises including push-up techniques.

  • 1
    Care to summarize some of the exercises in your answer, else you're not really adding much compared to the other answers.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 0:04

Your hands are doing very little during a push-up. So while you might feel some force there, don't be concerned by it. Many chest exercises (except the previously mentioned fly) use a combination of chest and tricep muscles. If all you want is a large chest, the bench press is one of the best exercises you can do. Shoot for 1.5x your body weight.

If, however, you're developing your chest for strength in a particular activity, find an exercise that mimicks the activity and use it as your basis.

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