Do you want pain free chest growth? You need to steal this sneaky drop set.

When it comes to making real fitness progress, want we want and what we need can be two different things.


You know you need to improve your core stability…
..but what you want is eye-popping abs.

You know you need is more goblet squats to work on quality movement…
…but what you want is more back squats.

You know you need to spend time doing push-ups for healthy shoulders…
..but what you want is a big chest with tons of bench pressing.


Which brings us to the drop sets used in every gym

They can be a great way to develop a chest that you could bounce a nickel off, without screwing up your shoulders for life.

You’ll leave the gym with that satisfying fatigue that keeps you coming back… While minimizing the risk of injury.

This drop set uses push-ups to improve not just the chest, but how well the shoulder and thoracic spine move together.


SCIENCE TIME (If you want just the dropset, skip down to the videos).

When you bench press, it doesn’t allow for your scapulae, or shoulder blades to move across the ribs as they are made to do. You are trying to pin the scapulae in an attempt to create a large amount of stability.

Since we do this, we put our Acromioclavicular joint at risk of anterior translation, not only due to the lack of scapular retraction, but also because most people lack the amount of shoulder extension needed.

Hello,  Mr. Burns Posture.

If you aren’t an anatomy nerd, all you need to know is this:

If all you do is bench press, your shoulders are in for a world of hurt sooner rather than later.

Even if you are a proficient bench presser, you won’t get the same kind of core and glute use that you will in a push-up.

Bench presses get you strong, especially for contact sports. But they can be overused for chest development.

There is more to life than four different variations of barbell bench press.


Bret Contreras showed the benefits of push-ups for chest activation in this article. He showed that the various push-ups tested were comparable in peak and mean muscle contraction to the bench press variations tested.

Allowing the retraction and protraction of the scapulae in the push-up will allow a large use of the pecs, without putting your Acromioclavicular joint at risk for that dull pain that can often accompany a chest workout.

You will also receive residual strengthening for the lats, anterior deltoids, core, glutes and even serratus anterior, the long forgotten muscle that keeps your scapula from flying away.

Alright. That’s enough of why you’re using the push-up. What exactly will you be doing?

You will utilize three different types of push-ups for varied difficulty:


The band-resisted push-up:

the traditional push-up:

and the hand elevated push-up:

This is going to be a technical drop set as well as a mechanical drop set. Not only will you increase muscle recruitment due to decreasing the load, you will also increase muscle recruitment due to the various angles and difficulty you will be using. This is similar to a flat bench press using different muscle fibers than an incline press.




So the drop set starts off with banded push-ups off the floor. Focus on rowing your body down to the ground, pointing your elbow pits and hands forward.

When you come back up, that’s when the band will try to show you who’s boss. Keep those glutes squeezed, press through your hands and make sure to get full extension out of your arms and shoulders.

Do as many of these as possible with good form, then drop the band and perform your regular push-ups.


When you get to your regular push-ups, don’t be surprised if you only get 10 or less. After the high amount of tension from the band, it might be a struggle getting a high number of push-ups.

Keep your hips strong and press strong through your chest. Do as many traditional push-ups as possible.


When you can’t do any more, grab a bench, put your hands on it and go to town. Keep your butt and core tight, as this is where technique will get loosey goosey. As long as you can keep things locked down, do as many push-ups as possible.

Rest for 1:00-1:30 seconds. Once you peel yourself off the floor, repeat 2x more. And that’s it. 


Do this at the tail end of your upper body workout, or as a stand alone if you don’t have much time.



Getting a bigger, stronger chest doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice healthy shoulders in the process. Use this dropset,  get stronger, add size to your pecs, all while keeping your shoulders from a near death experience.