Push-ups between two chairs (Deep Push-ups)
Push-ups between two chairs are an advanced variation of the classic floor push-ups, allowing an increased range of motion at the shoulder joint. This equates to more muscle activation and ultimately more muscle mass. You don’t want to aggravate the shoulder joint, so go only a few inches or centimeters deeper than you would during normal push-ups. The forearms should remain perpendicular to the floor and the hands placed at a medium width. The limitations of a normal push-ups come from doing them on the ground so your body can’t get any lower. When you use chairs or stools your body can get lower. Enough reasons to try this middle chest exercise.
How to perform push-ups between two chairs?
STARTING POSITION (SETUP). Find two even surfaces to place your hands on: chairs, phone books, reams of paper, foot stools, full boxes, whatever. The best approach is to use three similar chairs, one for your feet, and one for each hand. Place your feet on top of the chair, and your hands on top of two chairs positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Assume a push-up position – keeping your back and legs straight. In other words, you want your body to be in a straight line position with your glutes and abdominals tight.
EXECUTION (ACTION). Do a classic push-up, but bring your chest down until it is fully stretched. Therefore, you main goal is to lower yourself farther toward the floor. That way you stretch the muscles of the chest, and work them over a greater range of motion. Reverse the movement and push your body up until your elbows lock out. Again, keep your body locked in a straight line the whole time. The farther apart you position the chairs, the more difficult the exercise.
Use very sturdy, well-grounded props while doing between chair push-ups. In other words, be certain that the chairs don’t slide out from under you as you are doing the exercise.
Also, if you have any serious shoulder problems it’s wise to skip this exercise entirely because it also strongly stretches your deltoid muscles.
Push-ups between two chairs (deep push-ups) target your pectoralis major. However, they will also hit your front deltoids and triceps, since these muscles assist in just about every version of the movements. Your rotator, trapezius, serratus anterior, and abdominals all contract to keep your shoulders, core, and hips stable as you perform the move.
- Main muscles: pectoralis major, triceps, deltoids (anterior)
- Secondary muscles: serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, subscapularis
- Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids (posterior)
Exercise variation (make it easier)
You can make this exercise much easier by placing your feet firmly on the floor instead of putting them on an elevated surface. All other instructions given earlier remain unchanged. However, putting your feet up on a surface like a low table, chair, or bed really makes a big difference here. That way you will make this middle chest exercise much more effective.
Short-Lever Elevated Push-Up. Exercisers who wish to take advantage of the extra range of motion provided in elevated push-ups but aren’t quite strong enough to perform them can use the short-lever elevated pushup, which is performed with the knees, not the feet, on a couch or chair.
Replacement exercises for push-ups between two chairs
You can replace between-chair push-ups with any other pressing middle chest exercise.
Examples of pressing middle chest exercises:
- Flat barbell bench press
- Flat bench dumbbell press
- Smith-machine bench press
- (Seated) machine chest press
- (Lying) machine bench press
- Classic floor chest push-ups
Closing thoughts about deep push-ups
Push-ups are like upside-down bench presses, and primarily work the pectoral muscles. However, doing push-ups between two chairs (deep pushups) allows you to descend until you feel a stretch in your pecs. That way your muscles (especially your chest muscles) must work harder to complete the movement. In addition, when your hands are spread wide during the push-up, you activate your chest muscles more than your triceps muscles. If you maintain good posture, you’ll also use your abs and low back muscles more.