MVP Level Up: How to Take Your Pushup to the Next Level

The pushup is the gold standard of bodyweight movements. Just ask Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S: “It’s the best bodyweight move to start training your chest,” he says. That’s one reason the pushup is the latest move to get a feature in our new MVP-exclusive series The Level Up. Here’s exactly how to load and challenge your chest more with the pushup. (And if you need an additional challenge, check out our MVP-exclusive Level Up on hollow holds.)

Level One: Basic Pushup

The first step is to make sure you own the basics of the standard pushup. And to do that, start with a warmup.

1A: Elevated Hands Pushup
Use a counter or bench to create a little bit of elevation for this move. Squeeze your glutes and abs as you look down at the floor and lower your chest. “Keep your elbows nice and tight and think of a 45-degree angle,” Samuel says.

1B: Basic Pushup
Now you’re ready for your pushup. “On the ground, feet together. Glutes squeezed, abs squeezed with a little bit of tension in your shoulder blades and screw your hands into the ground,” Samuel says. “Press down and press back up.” Once you own that, do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Level 2: Feet-Elevated Pushup

Adding elevation will take your pushup to the next level.

“Very similar to an incline bench press, this will open up your upper arm angle and create a little bit more range of motion and start to hit that upper chest,” Samuel says. Keep your core and glutes super tight, and looking down lower down and press back up.

Once you own that, do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Level 3: Archer Pushup

This move adds more load using your body weight.

“The Archer Pushup essentially has one of your arms be a stabilizer and help you keep your balance while the other arm does all the pressing work, which creates more load,” says Samuel.

To set it up, take a slightly wider hand position and turn your hands outwards. Get into the standard pushup position with a tight core and glutes as you use your right arm as a ‘kickstand’ as you bend into your left arm, shifting your torso as you lower down and press back up.

“All of the pressing and chest/shoulder/tricep action is happening on the left side,” says Samuel.

Once you own that, do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.

Level 4: Feet-Elevated Archer Pushup

Take your Archer Pushup to the next level by elevating it, using a bench or chair.

“Make sure you keep a lot of tension in your abs and glutes,” Samuel says. “The tighter we are, the more load we get to move.”

Once you own that, do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

Level 5: Half-Typewriter Pushup

“This is all about two things: piling on time under tension and training our chest and shoulders to work and stabilize in another plane,” says Samuel. “Our chest and shoulders will remain integrity as we move side to side.”

To do it, get into you standard Archer Pushup position. Lower down to one side and stay there, sliding yourself halfway across then back (straightening out your other arm), pressing back up. Squeeze your shoulder blades nice and tight as you slide so you get a lot more back workout and develop shoulder control. As you do it, make sure you take your time.

“When you’re doing this, your chest isn’t going to get a break. That one side of your chest is getting a lot of time under tension,” Samuel says. “That’s going to help you build muscle and strength.”

Once you own that, do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

Level 6: Post Pushup

This is the final level. You will need some kind of post for this, like a railing

Using the post, set up your wrist a little bit lower than your shoulder in the pressing position.

“Keep your palm facing out, creating external rotation in the shoulder joint. Think about having your wrist as high as your shoulder or slightly lower when you’re in the bottom of this position,” says Samuel.

Keep your hips and shoulders square to the ground, keeping your abs and glutes tight as you lower down and press up.

Do 10 post pushups on one side followed by 10 standard pushups. Repeat 3 times per side.

“Your chest will be on fire,” Samuel says.

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