“When you’re home, the tendency is to not train hard enough,” he says. “You don’t have the benefit of a real heavy bench press to create tension. What we need to do here is create more of a metabolic overload, and take it to failure.”
Cavaliere structures his chest day workout into 5 exercises, starting with the easiest and then increasing in difficulty. They are:
- Incline rotating pushup
- Hand release pushup
- Bear pushup
- Decline wall pushup
- 1-arm posted pushup
The incline rotating pushup feels easy in one way, as you’re letting gravity do some of the work, but the rotational movement also creates relative adduction which contracts the chest. The hand release pushup provides a little reinforcement, as your chest actually touches the ground at the bottom of the movement. The external movement of the arms in this variation also works the rotator cuff, and the reps become more challenging the more of them you do.
The bear pushup, performed with your feet up against the wall, makes lifting your bodyweight more of a challenge. (This might be easier barefoot than in shoes.)
Similarly, the decline wall pushup works the chest harder by removing the pressure that you would usually put on your toes. The exercise that arguably makes you work the hardest, though, is the single-arm posted pushup, which maximises the pressure and contraction on one side.
Your task is to pick the pushup variation that you find most difficult and can only manage 3 to 8 reps of, and begin the workout with that movement. Perform the exercise until failure and then follow it with a 30-second crossover isometric squeeze to create contraction in your chest. Complete 4 sets, with 2 minutes of rest in between.
Once you have finished your most difficult exercise, you then work your way back through a dropset of the remaining exercises without rest, taking each move until failure for 3 to 4 sets. By sequentially performing moves that are decreasing in difficulty, Cavaliere says you will be able to keep repping out even if you’re exhausted from the harder sets at the beginning.
“This will always scale with you,” explains Cavaliere. “You can continue to add a more difficult or explosive version of a pushup… The best option you have is to ensure that you’re training to and through failure.”
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health