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Awesome chest training tool

I just love training my chest. I’m not aiming to be huge, not like a body builder or weight lifter, I just want to be reasonably strong, and capable, good functional strength, and look pleasing. Push-ups are my all-time favourite exercise. I love everything about push-ups, and some time I will write a blog post just about push-ups! I love all the ways they can be performed.

King of upper-body exercises

I once started writing a list of how many different ways I know how to do push-ups. I listed over 40 types of push-up! But of course, all of those types can be performed – wide ‘grip’, narrow ‘grip’, incline, flat, decline, one-leg, with weight vest on or off, fast tempo or slow tempo, on knuckles, palms, finger tips…so 40 plus styles, quickly multiplies to over 300 plus possible variations on the bog standard push-up.

My personal ‘mainstay’ is a fairly wide stance standard push-up, with my hands out slightly beyond shoulder width. I do these all the time, probably about 1000 per week every week just as part of my regular varied routine, often far more. You have to be careful with a wide stance/grip, as it can strain the shoulders, so it pays to build up for many months before doing loads of wide-grip push-ups, just to ensure you don’t upset your shoulders. My push-ups record using this slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width stance is 1014 good form push-ups in 59 minutes and 58 seconds. 1000 in an hour, happy with that. I ached for 2 days after, it was a killer workout, I was drenched in sweat!

Anyway, I will write more about push-ups another day, but for today, I wanted to share with you a new training tool I made which is just awesome for training chest using variations of push-ups.

Chest Board

I call this my ‘chest board’.

This started life as a railway sleeper, and 2 utility hooks for hanging bicycles or such things on your garage wall.

Chest board 5 finishedChest board 3 - numbers marked out

I measured my own ‘wingspan’ with my arms stretched out as far as I could possibly go for an ultra-wide-grip push-up. This became the widest point, so I added 2 inches and cut the railway sleeper to that size. Then I market out and drilled the holes you can see in this picture.

Chest board handles

Once it was drilled and numbered, then I took 2 garage-wall utility hooks, and cut them down to make handles, padded with a little pipe-lagging foam and them wrapped liberally in electrical insulating tape. This produces 2 ‘handles’ as pictured.

The total cost of this awesome piece of home workout equipment was roughly 20 pounds for the railways sleeper, and 4 pounds for the 2 utility hooks. That’s it, less than 25 quid, and this thing is rock solid, it’ll last for years.

I built this earlier this year, and I have been amazed how many different workouts I can do using this. As with anything based on push-ups, there are loads of variations you can do – feet elevated 3 or 4 feet up, weight vest on, rest the chest board on something else to raise the angle above your feet, change the tempo between fast and slow…and so on.

The ways to use this are only as limited as your imagination – focus on numbers 6, 7 and 8 for a triceps workout, focus on the 3 to 6 range for bulk of chest, focus on the low numbers for ultra-wide, mix the numbers up and so on.

Karl’s chest-board push-ups pyramid workout

So far, by far my favourite push-ups routine on the chest board is this. I’ll call this “Karl’s chest-board push-ups pyramid workout”:

Start on position number 1, do 5 reps with good form, Chest Board 2then drop onto your knees for about 3 or 4 seconds while you quickly move the handles in to position number 2, then 5 reps with good form, onto your knees for just a few seconds only as long as it takes to move the handles in to position number 3, then another 5 reps and so on. Keep going to number 8. As you lift the handles into position 8, cross your hands over – so looking at picture, it’s the handle I am holding in my right hand that moves into the upper holes, slightly left of centre, and the handle in my left hand drops into the lower holes, slightly right of centre, this way, my hands cross over at the wrist. This is killer-close-grip push up time!

So you have done 5 reps at each position moving UP the numbers, but that’s only half the workout. Keep the pace, the few seconds rest on your knees between each 5 is only just the time it takes to reposition your handles and no more. We are still doing all the numbers as one big set. So now you have completed 5 reps at position number 8 with your wrists crossed over, next leave the handles in place and just swap your hands Chest board 3 - numbers marked outover, so then you do another 5 in position number 8, but with your hands not crossed over. Then you reverse the first half of the workout, back to 5 in position 7, 5 reps in position 6, 5 push-ups in position 5 and so on all the way back to the last 5 in position number 1.

That was one set, 5 push-ups in each position working in, then 5 more in each position working out. The set comprises 80 reps and takes 3 minutes or so and it’s a great set! I do 3 sets in a workout, filling about 15 minutes rest between each set with other exercises, such as skipping, working my punch bag, sumo squats, lunges, crunches, oblique crunches and straight leg raises. The total workout includes 3 sets of 80, and if you do one set with your feet low and an extra plank of wood under the chest board to elevate it (incline push-ups), one set with your feet at the same level as the board (flat push-ups) and one set with your feet up 3 foot high on a bench, stool, whatever (decline push-ups) then by the end of this workout, you have hit your chest from every imaginable angel, your whole chest, shoulders, triceps has been hit and you should feel the whole area aching the next day.

Chest board 1

I love home-made gym kit, in preference to fancy gyms and expensive equipment, and this is one of my favourite pieces of home-made equipment, it’s so simple but gives me such an awesome good workout. If you build one and try it, come back on here and let me know how you are getting on!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Joe #

    You mentioned that the board is two inches wider than your “wingspan”, but how did you determine how far apart to place each set of holes for the handles? Was there some method, or did you just eyeball it?

    August 28, 2014
    • Hi Joe,
      I just eyeballed it, had the board in front of me on the floor, knelt there with a market pen and just spaced out the holes how it seemed best.
      It works just great!
      Cheers
      Karl

      August 28, 2014
  2. Nasar #

    will you please give measurement of board and gap between hole.

    September 2, 2014
    • Hi Nasar,

      On my board, the holes are just a few inches apart – I didn’t use a tape measure at all. I started with a railway sleeper, cut it to the right length for the widest push-up I can do. Then I went to my local DIY store and found 2 utility hooks which I could cut down to make handles, and then I drilled the holes in the board to fit those ‘handles’.

      Does that make sense? Does that help you?

      All the best
      Karl

      September 14, 2014

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