Tip: Do the Hand-Release Push-Up

If your goals include building a big chest, developing power, and improving your bench press, this is the superior way to do push-ups.

Why It's An Awesome Exercise

  • Hand-release push-ups will give you a much stronger pectoral contraction than a regular push-up. Each rep starts from a "dead" position where there's no contraction in the prime movers. This forces a much stronger initial contraction to get the body moving. During a regular push-up the stretch reflex and pre-activation of the muscles contribute to force production at the beginning.
  • They'll give you roughly 10% more range of motion than regular push-ups. This is significant for muscle building.
  • When properly done, hand release push-ups primarily recruit the pecs, so they teach you to better use your chest when doing pressing movements.
  • They help with bench press mechanics. When you do them right, they train you to set your back (retract the scapula, keep the back tight, raise the chest) prior to pressing.
  • They can build power if you push your body up as explosively as possible. Basically cock your arms back fast and quickly reverse the motion to strike the floor.

How To Do It

  1. Lie face down on the floor with your head neutral (aligned with the spine). Keep the lower half of your chest, abdomen, pelvis, and quads touching the floor. Your ankles should be flexed so that your toes (not the top of your feet) are touching the floor.
  2. Contract or create tension in the abs, glutes, and quads.
  3. While keeping everything tensed, take your hands off the floor, and pull your shoulders back. Imagine doing a barbell row.
  4. While keeping the upper back, abs, glutes, and quads tight, bring your hands back down to the floor and push yourself back up. If your goal is to build muscle, you should do the first quarter of the movement under control to maximize chest activation.
  5. Push until your arms are fully extended and locked. At the top, your body should be at a downward angle but in a straight line with the head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet aligned. To increase pec activation even more, at the top try to bring both hands inward and squeeze for two seconds.
  6. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.