Bench Press to Increase Pushups

Q: “I must say I enjoy reading what you write and find you somewhat an inspiration. I have wanted to be a police officer my entire life, but considering a juvenile criminal record (JUST expunged) I can’t join the Marines as an MP. I can’t join period either, because I got my GED and so I’m volunteering at the YMCA, and answering phones at the fire department until I start college for a degree in Education.

“I do have one area of concern. I used to box. I’m 17, but started boxing when I was 16. I weighed 115 and was benching 180. Around New Year’s I cut myself on the wrist and severed several tendons, which put me to all running and biking for a good many months. Just this past month I’ve gotten back to work out, but I’ve found myself hesitating from the bench press due to a concern that it might affect my pushup reps.

“My goal I’ve set is 100 pushups by New Year’s, as well as squatting 200 pounds 20 times, running 5k, and 20+ chinups. It’s not my desire to bulk up, just to be strong. I was wondering though if you could give me input on if weight training will affect my reps at all? I’ve heard a lot of controversy on this when I ask people in the gym but no one seems qualified to answer. I do a lot of reps on the flyes and am working on getting higher reps on dips as well, but still don’t want to get on the bench press.

“I’m sorry if I typed too much for that simple question.”


My Answer- Not a problem. The question is: do you want to do the bench press? If you don’t care about bench press performance and only care about pushup performance, then don’t even bother with the bench press. Performing the bench press isn’t going to hurt your performance on pushups, as long as:

1. You keep doing pushups and do them often.
2. You don’t overdo the volume on the bench press. In other words, don’t do too many sets and reps on the bench press (or any other chest/triceps exercise, for that matter), because it will hamper your recovery between workouts.

What I suggest you do if you want to incorporate the bench press is to perform the bench press first in your chest workout. Focus on low reps, say 5 sets of 5 reps. Perform high rep pushups afterwards.

You may find your nervous system “wakes up” after a few heavy sets of bench pressing and that you’ll perform more reps on the pushups. Just give yourself enough rest in between bench press sets and between the bench press and pushups. Go for 3 minutes or more.


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