Pump Up Your Arms and Chest With This 3-Step Pushup Series

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You might think that pushups are nothing but the garnish to your workout entrée—but if you take them on in a different, challenging setup, you can get away with nothing but pushups for a tricep and chest-pumping standalone routine.

The 3-step pushup series from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. isn’t just meant to be an afterthought on the side of your push-day workouts “This one is push-day one-stop shopping, either as a nasty workout finisher, or as a quick full workout if you’re in a pinch,” he says of the series. “This is all about drop sets, and fatiguing our triceps to make standard pushups more challenging.”

Part of that challenge comes from the pushup variations you’ll take on: elevator archer pushups, archer pushups, and standard pushups. The imbalanced positions make the workout tough—then the pure volume of reps also serves as a challenge.

The best part about the series is that you don’t need any equipment to take it on—so it’s a great routine to use while you’re traveling without gym access or short on time. Just grab some space on the floor and get ready to get pumped.

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Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

  • Start in a wide pushup position, with your hands facing outward. Make sure to keep your core tight and your glutes engaged, as you would in any other pushup.
  • Lower your torso down to one side, extending your other arm. Push up and pause halfway, then finish through the rep to finish in the starting wide position. That’s an elevator archer pushup. Perform 8 reps.
  • Return to that lowered position on the same side. This time, perform 8 reps of archer pushups without the pause.
  • Finally, get into standard pushup position, with your hands at shoulder width. Perform reps until technical failure.
  • Repeat on the other side (after a minute rest).

You might think that the standard pushups will be a breeze after the super-tough archer series—but you’d be wrong.

“Expect the final pushups to feel strange, because you’re drop setting from a heavily unilateral press into a traditional, balanced pushup,” says Samuel. “You’ll have a nasty pump in one triceps, nothing in the other, and it’ll take your body a moment to rebalance. Focus extra hard on tensing your core and glutes to help you stay in balance.”

Once you finish a set on one side, rest for a minute before switching arms. Run through 2 sets per side for the full series to finish of your chest day, or as a standalone workout.

For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program on our All/Out Studio app.

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