You might think if you’ve done one pushup, you’ve done them all, but there are more than likely a few variations you’ve yet to try. Guys will never stop dropping to rep out sets of pushups when challenged at any occasion—so trainers won’t ever stop innovating new ways for you to do better, more eye-popping variations.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is one of those trainers. He has a long list of pushup styles in his repertoire, some of which he shares in the Men’s Health New Rules of Muscle program. You’ll get workouts filled with new variations on old standards, which will help you to build even more muscle.
Check out the video above for a demonstration of the archer pushup, one of the moves that that Samuel uses in the program to shock your system for more muscle growth. Then, read his explainer to learn why you’ll want to add this exercise to your routine.
The typewriter pushup is an underrated move that’ll hone your ability to move and manipulate your body in space. It’s also one of the few bodyweight pushup variations that forces a strong mid-back contraction as you do it; when you’re sliding your torso across the ground, you’re essentially pulling with one side of your back musculature. Between the standard pushing of a pushup and the pulling of typewriter motion, you’re getting a solid all-around upper-body pump with no weights at all.
Bonus: because your weight is largely on one arm, it’s also helping prep your body for the load you’d encounter when doing one-arm pushups.
I love putting typewriter pushups in near the end of a chest workout, as a bodyweight challenge that’s less about overloading the body and more about training body control. Think 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps back and forth. You don’t need to do a ton; your chest and shoulders battle through plenty of time under tension on each individual rep.
You can learn the typewriter pushup in three easy steps. First, of course, make sure you have a solid standard pushup down; you’ll want to be able to do at 10 to 15 reps comfortably.
1) Wide-Grip Uneven pushup. Here, we’re getting you comfortable with having your hands wider than normal. From there, press down to one side, then the other. Focus on really squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do this; that’ll help train the mid-back tension you need when you do the typewriter (and that’s a good quality when you’re doing regular pushups, too). Aim to do 8 to 10 reps comfortably before moving on.
2) Archer: Now you’re widening your hands out some more, and also pointing your fingers to opposite sides. This move is badass just by itself, and it’s also a key move you have to master before doing the typewriter. Even though your arms are no wide, still work to maintain tension in your mid-back; think about squeezing your shoulder blades. You’ll want to watch your straight arm on every rep; that’ll help you turn your torso, just slightly, in the direction of each rep. keep your core tight as you do this, though; really flex both your abs and your glutes hard. The Archer pushup is twisting your torso a little bit, but you should be in control of that twist. Do 6 to 8 reps comfortably before progressing.
3) Typewriter: Now you’re putting it all together. You essentially start by doing an archer pushup to one side, but stay down and stay in control. Then think of pulling your torso across to the straight arm side as you push your bent arm straight.
Train the archer 2 or 3 times a week, max. It’s more demanding than it looks (although as pointed out before, it does hit both your pulling and pushing muscles, the rare pushup that does that).