The basic pushup is still one of the gold-standard chest exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere with no gear, and it’s a perfect move for a chest workout from home. But at some point, it looses its challenge, and that’s when you need to level things up.
That can be challenging to do with only bodyweight. If you’re in a gym, sure, you can start bench pressing, or even just adding weight to the pushup. But if you’re at home with no gear, Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., has a collection of devastating alternatives. One of the toughest ones, says Samuel, is the front-supported post pushup dropset. “You can actually push your chest farther than you think with only bodyweight,” he says. “You just have to tap into creativity and understand what your body is capable of.”
You’ll do that with the front-supported post pushup, a move that’s closer than you think to a single-arm pushup. “Essentially,” says Samuel, “you’re doing a single-arm pushup with just a little bit more stability provided from that front supporting arm.”
But, unlike single-arm pushups, where people often contort their body into awkward positions to create easier leverage, says Samuel, the front-supported post pushup lets you maintain tighter overall form. “We’re going to work to keep our hips and shoulders square to the ground the whole time,” he says, “because that front arm is going to help us, and it’s going to help considerably.”
The front arm is key in this pushup, because you have to actively push into your post or wall with it. “That’s actually going to challenge your shoulder stability more than you think,” says Samuel.
But the other arm, the arm that’s working through the pushup motion, handles the chest part of things almost completely alone. “You’re getting a great single-pec pump from this,” he says. “You’ll be challenged.”
The move can be tough and won’t lead to a huge amount of reps, says Samuel, since it’s close to a unilateral pushup. “That means you’re loading one side of your chest quite a bit,” says Samuel, “so you won’t exactly pile up the reps here.” That’s why Samuel suggests using the front-supported post pushup in a dropset. “Follow each set of front-supported post pushups with paused pushups until technical failure,” he says. “That way, you’re piling up some good volume.”
- Set up in front of a post or wall, left arm aligned with the wall. Get in pushup position. Extend your left arm into the wall and actively push into the wall. Tighten your core, working to keep hips and shoulders square to the ground. This is your start position. Your right arm should be ready to do a pushup. Your left arm should be about the height of your torso, or slightly lower than that.
- Keeping your hips and shoulders square to the ground, bend your right elbow and do a pushup. Lower your chest to within an inch of the ground, then press up. That’s 1 rep. Do 6 to 8 reps, or as many as you can, if that’s fewer. “It’s OK to get just 3 or 4 reps the first time,” says Samuel. “This move isn’t easy.”
- Immediately get into pushup position. Do as many good reps of paused pushups as you can.
- That’s 1 set. Do 3 sets per side.
You can use the front-supported post pushup in a variety of ways, says Samuel. “If you’re just getting into pushups, consider this an endpoint,” he says. “Let this be a challenge-level move that you work on in your spare time.”
If you’re more advanced though, use this as a finisher in the gym, after, say, bench presses and incline presses. Or if you’re training at home, let this be your big chest move for the day. “This can easily lead off a chest workout at home,” says Samuel, “or it can be a devastating piece of an at-home total-body circuit.”