The lowly push-up has been around forever, and likely can credit its enduring popularity with bodybuilders and fitness-seekers to its ability to work several muscle groups at the same time. Even better, push-ups focus on small muscle groups as well as large muscle groups. So, even though your pectorals may be your primary focus, push-ups build your entire chest area for balance, symmetry and strength. In terms of the best push-up, there are dozens of variations and several worth calling the best.
Explosive Plyometric Push-ups
One of the best push-ups for building your chest muscles and burning calories is the explosive, plyometric push-up. To do this push-up, assume the position for a standard push-up. Execute the explosive push-up by moving yourself upward with enough force to allow you to clap your hands once as they leave the ground. While performing this plyometric exercise, keep your waist and hips straight.
Hand and Foot Positions
A wide hand position increases the activity of your chest muscles, as opposed to your triceps, so keep your hands about two or three inches wider than your shoulders if building your chest is your goal. If you are in the building phase of your exercise program, perform push-ups -- standard or plyometric -- supported on your knees instead of your toes. However, if you are an advanced bodybuilder, get the best chest workout from placing your toes on an elevated platform while doing standard or plyometric push-ups.
One of the best combo push-up routines is a 15-minute push-up and dumbbell workout. This routine uses three different types of push-ups to work your upper, middle and lower chest area. The trio includes inclined-shoulders push-ups -- with your hands on an elevated surface to work your lower pecs, single-leg push-ups -- with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet on top of one another to work the middle pecs area, and lower-body-declined push-ups -- with your feet elevated to work your upper pecs.
Doing Your Best with the Best Push-Ups
Begin every exercise session with upper-body warm-ups, such as 10 jumping jacks and 10 standard push-ups. To get the most from your push-ups workout, pay close attention to form. Stew Smith of Military.com recommends doing push-ups as quickly as you can, while maintaining proper form, to avoid gravity diminishing your strength. Keep your hands even with your shoulders, not too high or too low -- which can also weaken your push-up ability. Do the push-ups you can do properly, and work your way up to more advanced push-up exercises. The best push-ups for your chest are the push-ups you do well. Spend several minutes cooling down with light calisthenics and static stretching to avoid soreness.