If you need a no frills workout finisher that will push your arms and chest to the brink, dig back into your bag of exercises and get back to the basics with a pushup. But just because you’re going simple with your routine doesn’t mean it’ll be easy—to make your session tougher, add a load, change your position, and switch up your set structure to burn out your upper body.
That’s how Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. structures his pushup workouts. This loaded close grip pushup burnout finisher transforms the gym class staple into a hellish triceps crusher.
“You’ve done dropsets before, but here, we’re doing something else with that dropset,” says Samuel of the routine. “Instead of just “dropping” weight on the back end of our dropset, we’re going to drop a tempo as well. You’re starting with a loaded version of a close-grip pushup that also includes a pause.”
To perform the loaded close grip pushup burnout finisher, you just need your bodyweight and another weight, like a plate, to load onto your back. If you want to do this at home and you don’t keep any weight stacks around, check out this option from CAP Barbell.
- Get into pushup position, with your hands placed at shoulder width or slightly narrower. Place the weight on your back, making sure that you have the load up high enough so that your arms bear most of the burden.
- Squeeze your glutes and brace your core, then perform 8 to 10 pushup reps. Pause for a count at the bottom of each rep without resting your chest on the ground.
- Remove the weight (either with the help of a partner or by shifting to safely drop the load to the ground), then perform standard close grip pushups to failure.
Even if you’re a pushup pro, you’ll probably have a hard time blasting through those standard reps at the end of the workout. “That’s where this superset messes with your mind,” says Samuel. “You’re going to failure on the bodyweight portion here, but expect failure to arrive sooner than you think.”
Add the loaded close grip pushup burnout finisher to your upper body workouts with 3 full sets. 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.