Last updated on November 1st, 2022 at 11:04 am
Anyone else who can’t do push ups after a chest workout?
We’ve all been there, you’ve absolutely nailed your chest workout.
You’ve benched a PR, hit some dips and dumbbell presses, as well as a few sets of cable flyes.
You then decide it would be a great idea to perform push ups as a finisher.
You know this is going to give you a fantastic pump.
However, a few reps in and you fall flat on your face.
It is practically impossible for you to perform push ups following your chest workout.
So, what exactly is going on here?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Can’t Do Push Ups After Chest Workout
The main reason that you can’t do push ups after a chest workout is due to muscle fatigue. After a particularly intense chest session, not only will your chest feel fatigued, but also your shoulders and triceps. It can then be even harder to perform push ups after your chest workout, as poor form tends to creep in when your muscles are tired. This typically involves you using your arms and allowing your midsection to sag during push ups. This will simply make push ups even harder to perform.
Your Muscles Are Fatigued
It should be fairly obvious that the main reason you can’t do push ups after a chest workout is because your muscles are fatigued.
Furthermore, the pecs are among the largest muscles in the body, therefore they typically take longer to recover.
That being said, even though you can generally feel your chest when doing push ups, it’s likely that your triceps are fairly fatigued from your chest workout.
And unfortunately, the triceps are usually the limiting factor during push ups.
What I mean by this is that your triceps will generally give up well before your pecs when performing push ups, or any other chest-related exercise for that matter.
Admittedly, the triceps tend to recover quicker than the pecs, due to their smaller size.
However, if you’re trying to perform push ups immediately after a chest workout, it’s likely that your triceps are going to severely hamper you.
That’s not to say that you won’t feel your chest too.
However, from a personal perspective, I know that I don’t always really feel my chest workouts in my chest.
But, as long as my chest is growing and I’m getting stronger, then I know that my workouts are effective.
Now, I actually really like performing push ups after a chest workout.
In fact, I often use it as a finisher, typically performing 100 push ups in as many sets as it takes.
This is a fantastic way to really drive your chest workout home and to fill your pecs with blood.
However, as someone who can crank out over 50 (perfect form) push ups in a row, I know that my last few sets of push ups after a chest workout are definitely in single figures.
And this all comes down to muscle fatigue.
You’re Using Poor Form
Okay, the next reason why you can’t do push ups after a chest workout ties in quite well with being fatigued.
Basically, the more tired your muscles are, the more likely that you won’t stick to strict form.
Go on, admit it, we’ve all been there.
Regardless of the exercise, you know as well as me that we all quite often try to pump out a few extra reps, but typically without sticking to proper form.
Now, when it comes to push ups there are two main issues that you should be wary of.
Firstly, there is a tendency to simply turn push ups into an arm exercise.
So, you are literally pumping away with your arms, barely coming within touching distance of the ground, and not even going all the way up.
This is when you’ll typically start feeling push ups in your arms or shoulders.
And as I’ve already mentioned, your arms are likely to already be fairly fatigued by the various different pressing and pushing movements during your chest workout.
So, if your arms are already tired, but you’re trying to primarily use your arms during push ups, you’re not going to get very far.
The next form issue with push ups is allowing your midsection to sag towards the floor.
In fact, this is generally a problem I see quite often, irrespective of whether you’ve just performed a chest workout or not.
What happens here is that your body almost takes on a banana shape, whereby your waist is literally touching the floor, but your arms barely bend at all during push ups.
In other words, you’re probably performing very poor half or quarter reps.
Once again, this body position forces you to use your arms even more while doing push ups.
And as we’ve already established, as your arms are already tired, you’re probably not going to get many push ups done at all.
How Many Push Ups Can You Do?
The final thing to consider is how many push ups you can actually do.
And I’m talking about simply performing push ups when rested, and not immediately following an intense chest workout.
The reason I say this is because I have already mentioned that I can barely hit double figures for push ups after working my chest.
Plus, as I’ve said, although I haven’t counted recently, I know that I am capable of performing more than 50 push ups in a row.
Realistically, while push ups will test your strength, they are typically far more geared to your overall fitness levels, conditioning, and muscular endurance.
Therefore, if you generally crank out 10 push ups on a good day, you’re probably going to find it extremely difficult to even get one rep after a chest workout.
As I say, this has much more to do with your muscular endurance and conditioning.
So, you could be an extremely strong individual, who literally smashes their chest workout each and every time.
However, this won’t automatically transfer to your ability with push ups.
Then again, you could be an absolute beast at push ups, but you’re barely able to even bench press your own body weight.
That being said, the number of push ups you can perform in a rested state will be severely impacted once you’re in a fatigued state, especially from a hard chest workout.
How Many Push Ups Should I Be Able to Do?
So, as you can see, the main reason you can’t do push ups after a chest workout is due to muscle fatigue.
It stands to reason that after an intense chest session you’re probably not going to have much left in the tank.
That being said, most of us tend to make push ups even harder once we’re fatigued.
This is typically through poor form, whereby you’re either pumping with your arms or allowing your midsection to sag towards the floor.
Unfortunately, both of these things will simply make push ups even harder.
Finally, you have to take into consideration how many push ups you can do in a rested state.
As an example, if your max push up set is 10 reps, you’re probably going to struggle even doing a single push up after a chest workout.
If this is the case you’ll want to discover how to build up to 50 push ups in a row.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.