Push Chain

Your push chain is responsible for the movements that push your hands away from your torso. The main muscles are the pectorals, shoulders, triceps and even the extensors in your forearms. Whether you want a broad chest, bigger arms or cannonball shoulders, your push chain will deliver all of those benefits and more.

Push Chain Exercises

The most common push chain exercises include the push-up, dips, handstands, planche and crawling movements.  While each technique will emphasize different muscles in the chain all of them should bring some tension to all of the major muscles. For example, dips are a great triceps exercise but also include your chest and shoulders are tense as well.


Calisthenics push chain exercises are some of the best tools for building up your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Athletes, who struggle to build muscle on the bench press, thrive on a diet of dips and advanced push-ups.

Part of the reason could be the primal nature of push chain movements. Some scientists theorize the pectoral muscles are the size they are because they evolved when humans used their arms for locomotion. We didn’t evolve doing bench presses and pec flys but we used to spend a lot of time pushing our hands into the ground as we crawled about.

The primal nature of push chain calisthenics is why they deliver such phenomenal results. They don’t stress your shoulder and elbow joints like isolation weight exercises and they help strengthen the smaller joints in the hands and wrists. Weak wrists are a plague in modern society and moves like push-ups help keep your wrists and hands strong, flexible and healthy.

Push Chain Training Tips

Your push chain uses your upper body in a similar way squats use your lower body. Some athletes even consider dips to be like squats for the upper body. In light of this, imagine using the joints in your arms in a similar way you would use your legs. Your wrists are like your ankles, your elbows are like your knees and your shoulders are your hips.

While your push chain does work the front of your torso, don’t forget that your back muscles play a very important role. Contract your lats, traps and even the muscles behind your shoulders to prevent your elbows from flaring out to the side. Doing this will improve shoulder stability, reduce stress on your joints and improve muscle tension.

Lastly, be sure to occasionally practice pausing at the bottom of each rep with all push chain exercises. There’s a tendency to bounce out of the bottom of dips and push-ups which can be hard on the joints and reduces muscle tension. This isn’t always bad to do, but practice pausing at the bottom of each rep for 1 second for a few sets each week will improve tension control and joint stability.

Learn More

You can learn more about progressive push-ups and handstand exercises in the book Convict Conditioning and explore dips in Explosive Calisthenics.

You can also check out my push chain videos on my YouTube channel.

Videos on Push Chain Excersizes