Everybody loves pushups. They’re a classic upper-body exercise; however, the main drawback comes as you get stronger on them—your bodyweight will limit how much resistance you can put on your pecs (unless you have a means of adding external resistance, of course).
This pushup variation is going to fix your “limited-resistance” problem and enable you to place major tension on your pecs, using just your bodyweight, through a simple change in body position.
One of the first things often done to increase resistance on pushups is to switch to one-arm pushups. That, unfortunately, brings a new problem—in order to perform one-arm pushups, you have to set your hand under the center of your torso for balance, which turns the pushup into a triceps-focused exercise.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we’re looking for maximum chest work here. That’s where the “outrigger” position comes into play.
To do this, you’ll need a bench, a chair or even just stairs—basically anything you can set your other hand on that’s about a foot and a half off the ground. Set one hand flat on the bench, like an outrigger on a canoe, elbow slightly bent. Set your other hand on the floor a short distance from the bench in a classic-pushup arm position. Keep your body stiff and straight.
Lower yourself as you would in a regular pushup, keeping tension in the nonworking side. Because the nonworking arm acts as an outrigger, you’ll be able to keep a wider hand and arm position on the working side, which keeps the focus on the pec, right where you want it, and not on the triceps.
You will dramatically increase the tension on the working pec over what you get from a normal one-arm pushup because the majority of your bodyweight load will be on it.
And here’s the secondary benefit: the stretch. The nonworking, outrigger pec gets a powerful stretch at the bottom of every rep, stretching under isometric tension because it is stabilizing the torso.
Do as many reps as you can on one side (if you can get 20-plus reps of regular pushups, you’ll probably hit about five to eight reps of these); then switch positions and work the other side.
I recommend alternating your starting sides from set to set; e.g., start with your left arm on the first set and your right arm on the second set.
This exercise is a great way to add chest mass with bodyweight training. The ability to place more resistance on one side at a time with a pushup and not have it all go to the triceps is the key. It’s a powerful option for building mass in the gym, your home gym or even when training on the road.
Editor’s note: To get a copy of Nick’s Muscle Explosion—28 Days to Maximum Mass, visit his Web site, www.28DayMuscle