Best Push Day Workout Routine | 5 Exercises for Mass & Strength

Man doing push day workout

Push day, synonymous with the oh-so-popular chest day, is one of the most treasured days in many bodybuilding and powerlifting workout routines. This is especially true for those who are following a PPL (Push, Pull, Legs) split.

While the workout routine is common knowledge among many avid gym-goers, it is unknown to some. So if you’re new to weight training, you’ll find everything you need to know about push day workouts in this guide. This includes the best compound and isolation exercises

With this information, you’ll be able to put together a good push day workout that will have you sweating and feeling accomplished. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

What Are Push Day Workouts?

A push day refers to a workout routine where the upper body muscles involved in pushing movements are trained. The primary push day muscles targeted include the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

While push workouts are more commonly known to target upper body muscles, many athletes include lower body exercises in their routines too.

Pushing exercises for the lower body tend to target the quadriceps and calves. But for those following a PPL split, the lower body is worked on a separate day.

Best Push Day Exercises

Wondering what exercises to do for the best push day workouts? Here is a list of some of the best push exercises targeting the chest, shoulders, triceps, and more.

1.   Bench press

Perhaps the most notorious pushing exercise, the bench press is a favorite amongst powerlifters, Crossfit athletes, and gym rats.

There are several variations for this exercise, with the flat barbell bench press being the most popular. Other variations include the dumbbell bench press, close grip bench press, and incline or decline bench press.

Man performing bench press exercise

Here are a few pointers on how to perform the exercise to ensure maximum output and muscle gain:

  • Sit on the bench with your feet flat on the ground and ensure that your scapular is retracted before laying back
  • Once you’re laying on the bench, keep your glutes tight and grab the bar just outside of shoulder width
  • Unrack the bar, take a breath in, and lower the bar towards your chest, keeping your elbows at 45 degrees
  • While exhaling, push the bar back up
  • Inhale and repeat until you’ve done your favored number of reps

Tip: For maximum power and stability, try squeezing the bar as you bring it down towards your chest.

2.   Overhead press (military press/OHP)

Like the bench press, this exercise is a popular movement amongst powerlifters, athletes, and regular gym-goers trying to build muscle or strength.

The OHP is the ultimate exercise for demonstrating and improving your overhead pushing strength. By doing this compound exercise, you’re sure to see tremendous growth in your shoulders and triceps.

Close up of overhead press

To ensure you’re performing the push exercises safely and correctly, follow these steps:

  • Stand tall with your feet placed firmly on the ground
  • Grab the bar just outside of shoulder width and unrack the bar
  • Breath in, keeping your core and glutes tight
  • While exhaling, press the bar up in a straight line over your head
  • Inhale and bring the barbell back down towards your chest

Tip: If it’s your first time performing the exercise, it is important to start with a lighter weight and focus on using the proper form.

3.   Dips

Dips are a staple in many push workout routines. This is because it’s an effective movement that works the chests and triceps and requires little set-up. All you need are dip bars, and you’re good to go.

Man doing dips as part of push day workout

To properly execute the dip, follow the steps below:

  • Grip the bar tightly, ensuring your wrist is in a neutral position
  • Push yourself up so that your arms are fully extended and your feet are off the ground
  • With a slight forward lean, begin lowering your body, keeping your forearms vertical and bending at the elbow
  • Lower yourself until your upper arm is parallel to the ground, then push yourself back up
  • Repeat until you’ve done the desired number of reps

Tip: If you’re a beginner, try the bodyweight tricep dip. You won’t need a dipping station, just a sturdy chair, step, or bench.

4.   Push ups

Whether you’re a beginner or a well-trained athlete, the push up is possibly the go-to pushing exercise. Like the dips, it requires little to no equipment, depending on the variation you do.

The primary muscles involved in doing push ups are the triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles. With proper form, you’re also likely to strengthen your core and lower back as your abdominal muscles will be engaged throughout the movement.

To do the basic bodyweight push-up, follow these steps:

  • Place your hands on the floor just outside of shoulder width
  • Extend your legs out behind you, straighten your arms, and engage your core
  • Bend at the elbows and lower yourself towards the ground
  • Once your chest is just above the floor, push yourself back up to the starting position
  • Repeat until you’ve done the desired number of reps

Tip: To place more emphasis on the triceps, place your hands around shoulder width apart.

Woman coaching man in pushups

5.   Chest flys

The chest fly is the best push exercise for isolating the chest muscles. One of the key movements of chest muscles is horizontal abduction—and that is exactly what the chest fly is.

Man doing cable chest flyes

There are various ways to perform the chest fly. One way is with dumbbells while lying on a bench.

However, we feel that the best contraction comes from doing chest flys with a cable pulley. It keeps tension on the muscle throughout the entire movement.

Here are some tips for performing the chest fly:

  • Grab the handles of the pulley system and stand with your arms out in a crucifix position
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, bring your hands together
  • Hold the position at the top and squeeze your chest before bringing your arms back
  • Repeat until you’ve done the desired number of reps

Tip: Set the cable at different heights to target different parts of the chest.

Best Push Workout Routine

There you have it—a list of the top five exercises for a good push workout. Whether you’re a  novice or veteran,  a powerlifter or Crossfitter, the exercises mentioned above are a good place to start when putting together your push day routine.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a bench and start pressing your dream physique.

To ensure your pulling muscles are just as developed as your pushing muscles, check out this comprehensive guide on the best pull workout.

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