6 Effective Push Exercises For Your Workouts – Sculpting the Upper Body

Fellow gym warriors! I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Push, pull, legs” mantra?

Mastering the push-pull workout split is the secret for those aiming to carve out a symmetrical and robust physique. Push exercises, as the name suggests, focus on the muscles we flex when pushing stuff away—think chest, shoulders, and triceps. And while they’re your ticket to rocking that new tank top, they’re also the linchpin for boosting your upper body prowess.

So, let’s unpack some of my top-tier push workouts, complete with variations, to supercharge your gym sessions!

Chest Exercises

The chest, often dubbed the “king of push day,” reigns supreme for a reason. This muscle group dominates the front of the upper body and a well-developed chest just exudes strength and confidence. So, when it’s push day, all hail the king!

Bench Press

male exercise-bench press

Ah, the bench press! The age-old measure of one’s gym prowess. “How much do you bench?” is probably the most overheard question in any gym, right after “Is this machine taken?”.

The bench press is a core chest exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the chest, triceps, and shoulders. If you’re doing a push day, and not incorporating at least one bench press variation, you’re doing it wrong.

Variation Mechanism Function
Flat Bench Balanced activation of upper and lower pecs Overall chest development
Incline Press Emphasizes the upper chest Develops a fuller, rounded upper chest
Barbell Allows for heavier loads, symmetrical push Builds mass and strength
Dumbbell Requires stabilization, independent arm movement Enhances muscle balance and offers a greater range of motion

Cable Flies

Cable flies exercises

Cable flies might not have the same bragging rights as the bench press, but ask any seasoned bodybuilder, and they’ll tell you it’s their secret weapon for chiseled pecs. This exercise offers a unique tension curve, thanks to the cables, ensuring your chest muscles are under constant tension.

Variation Mechanism Function
High to Low Targets the lower chest Defines the lower chest line
Medium Balanced activation of the entire chest Comprehensive chest development
Low to High Emphasizes the upper chest Builds a prominent upper chest shelf

Pro Tip: While both cable and dumbbell flies have their merits, the cable variation often offers a safer range of motion, ensuring constant tension on the pecs. If you’re looking for another alternative, the Pec Deck machine is a solid contender in the chest sculpting arena.


Dips are like the multitaskers of the push day. Depending on how you perform them, they can target either your chest or triceps more. Lean forward, and you hit the chest; stay upright, and hello triceps!

Variation Mechanism Function
Chest-focused Dips Leaning forward emphasizes the lower chest Adds depth to the pecs
Triceps-focused Dips Upright position targets the triceps Achieves the coveted horseshoe triceps look

Pro Tip: If you find regular dips too challenging, start with assisted dips or bench dips. As you progress, you can add weight or try more advanced variations.

Deltoid Exercises

The deltoids, commonly referred to as the “delts,” are the rounded, triangular muscles on the uppermost part of the arm and the top of the shoulder. They play a significant role in almost every arm movement, making them a crucial muscle group to target during push day.

Strong deltoids not only give your shoulders that broad, sculpted look but also aid in lifting and pushing movements in daily activities.

Overhead Press

Overhead Press

The overhead press is a quintessential exercise for overall deltoid development. It’s like the bench press of the shoulder world.

Variation Mechanical Difference Functional Difference
Standing Press Requires core stabilization; full body engagement Mimics real-world pushing movements
Seated Press Isolates the shoulders more; less core engagement Great for pure shoulder strength
Smith Machine Fixed bar path; stable Allows focus on form; less stabilization required
Arnie Press Rotational movement; dynamic Engages both front and middle delts
Z-Press Seated on the floor; no back support Intense core engagement; strict shoulder work

Lateral Raise

Lateral Raise

Lateral raises are the unsung heroes when it comes to carving out that distinct shoulder cap. They primarily target the lateral deltoids. Whether you’re using cables or dumbbells, ensure your elbows are slightly bent, and you’re raising the weights to just above shoulder height.

Variation Mechanical Difference Functional Difference
Dumbbell Raise Free range of motion; stabilization required Mimics natural lifting movements
Cable Raise Constant tension on the muscle Smooth, controlled motion; reduced momentum

Front Raise

Front raises are all about emphasizing the anterior deltoids. They’re the cherry on top of a well-rounded shoulder workout. Keep your arms straight, and lift the weights to eye level. Avoid using momentum.

Variation Mechanical Difference Functional Difference
Dumbbell Raise Free range of motion Natural lifting motion
Cable Raise Constant tension throughout the movement Offers a more controlled range of motion

Bonus Exercise: Face Pulls

Face pulls are not just another shoulder exercise; they’re a ticket to improved shoulder health and posture. By targeting the rear deltoids and the rotator cuff, they ensure a balanced shoulder development.

Technique Matters: Ensure you’re pulling the rope towards your face, with your hands at ear level. This ensures maximum muscle engagement.

Fun Fact: Jeff Cavaliere, renowned fitness guru emphasizes the importance of face pulls in every workout, even on leg days!!


What is the ideal frequency for push workouts in a week?

If you’re doing a Push Pull Legs split, then one or two times a week is sufficient.

Can I combine push and pull exercises in one day?

Absolutely! Many athletes follow a push-pull routine in a single day. It’s all about what fits your goals and recovery capacity.

How long should I rest between sets on push day?

For strength-focused workouts, 2-3 minutes is fine. For hypertrophy (muscle-building), 60-90 seconds should suffice. In both cases, the difficulty of your working sets is paramount.

Is it necessary to use weights for push exercises?

Not necessarily. Bodyweight exercises like push-ups can be highly effective. Weights just offer added resistance and progression.

How do I know if I’m overtraining on push day?

Signs of overtraining include prolonged muscle soreness, fatigue, decreased strength, and sleep disturbances. Listen to your body!

Should I consume protein post my push workout?

Yes, consuming protein post-workout aids in muscle recovery and growth. Aim for a mix of protein and carbs for best results.


Push exercises are a favorite among many in the gym, I know I’ve never heard of someone skipping push day! From the majestic chest, the king of push day, to the deltoids and triceps, each muscle group plays a pivotal role in sculpting a powerful and balanced upper body.

So, the next time you’re at the gym, remember to give a nod to the kings and queens of Push Day. After all, every push you make brings you one step closer to that sculpted physique..