Pushups and bench presses build your chest, but how do you build that elusive upper chest? Upper chest muscle and size is the key to well-proportioned pecs, creating a balanced look that finishes out your physique, whether you’re in a T-shirt or not.
Generally that means loading up on incline bench press work, but that doesn’t need to be your only option. Truth be told, you can build upper chest muscle and mass without any weights at all, thanks to this incline archer pushup combo from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “The challenge of training upper chest is often one of overload,” says Samuel. “And after awhile, standard incline pushups, with your feet elevated and your hands on the ground, just aren’t going to cut it. This archer series is the answer to that.”
The archer incline pushup works because, essentially, one of your pecs has to work against the majority of your bodyweight load. That’s generally enough overload to challenge even strong lifters. And that can spur the upper chest size and strength that you want.
“This gets us out of the gym and gives us an upper chest option anywhere,” says Samuel.
To ramp up the challenge even more, Samuel inserts carefully timed pauses into the equation as well, starting you off with two-step incline archer pushups. “The pauses you go through as you push up will challenge you to be that much more in control of the pushing motion,” says Samuel. “Just as importantly, they’ll force your chest to drive up after it had to cancel out momentum, resulting in a powerful chest (and triceps) squeeze at peak contraction.”
Once you get through those, you dropset into standard incline archer pushups, finishing your body off. It’s a devastating combination. And the best part: No equipment needed.
This incline archer pushup dropset can fit into your workouts in a variety of ways. Use it in a chest workout in the gym as a bodyweight finisher. Or use it in an all-pushups session as your first or second exercise. You can also use this in a total-body workout, as your pushing movement. Or, if you’re crunched for time and you want a quick chest pump, do it anytime, anywhere.
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.
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