What Are Archer Push-Ups?

Archer push-ups, otherwise known as side-to-side push-ups which are a variation that allows you to train one arm and pec with greater emphasis and intensity than regular push-ups. You will begin in a wide grip push-up position, and the movement involves you shifting your bodyweight side during the eccentric phase, whilst having your supporting arm straight. This exercise is an assisted version of a one-arm push-up, which acts as a progression towards achieving one-arm push-ups.

 

A study has found that after 6 weeks of training dynamic push-ups and plyometric push-ups displayed a highly statistically significant increase in strength based on their one-rep max bench press. This shows that training only calisthenics will have a positive carry-over in strength for weighted training due to the full-body activation in push-ups, thus, your functional strength will be advanced.

What Muscles are Worked by Archer Push-Ups?

Archer push-ups actives more on the upper chest and front shoulders. The primary muscles worked are the pectoralis major, triceps, and anterior deltoids. The secondary muscles worked are the serratus anterior, abdominals, obliques, forearms, quadriceps, and glutes.

What Level are Archer Push-Ups?

Archer push-ups are an intermediate-level exercise because they are the stepping stone to achieving the one-arm push-up. It is a unilateral movement that uses one hand to perform the push-up, and the other is used for support. Therefore, you will require to engage your core to keep your body rigid. However, it is a beginner’s friendly exercise as you can practice easier variations such as the incline archer push-ups to develop strength in your upper body for the regular archer push-up.

How to do Archer Push-Ups

1. Get Into A Plank Position

Begin by getting into a wide push-up position, also known as the wide plank position. Your hands are wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage your glutes and core to keep your body in a straight line. This is your starting position.

2. Slowly Lower Down

Inhale as you slowly shift your body down to the right side by bending the right elbow, and keep lowering down until your left arm is straight. Your left-hand fingers are facing outward-left, and your right- hand fingers are facing forward.

3. Slowly Push Up

Exhale as you push back up the starting position. Squeeze your chest and triceps at the top position, followed by repeating the same movement of your left side. Your left elbow will be bent, whilst your arm will be straight. Maintain a strong core engagement.

4.Repeat

Repeat this movement for a desired number of repetitions (see the recommended reps and sets ranges below). If you are a beginner, you can start with incline archer push-ups, whereas, if you’re advanced level and are looking for a challenge, you can practice decline archer push up. See the Archer Push-Ups Variations section below.

Archer Push-Ups Workout

  • Beginners should perform between 4-6 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Intermediate level athletes should perform between 8-18 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Advanced level athletes should perform 20+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.

What are the Benefits of Archer Push-Ups?

Improve Unilateral Strength

Do you sometimes feel that on your last couple of reps of doing push-ups, you are struggling to push up, and you notice that you are using more strength on your dominant side over the other? This is a problem as it causes overtraining or overusing on the dominant side, which could lead to injury. The archer push-up will require you to work mainly on a single side at the time, this will reduce the gap in strength between the two sides, and allow the weaker side to catch up.

Greater Stress On Working Muscles

Archer push-ups will put greater stress on your pecs, triceps, and anterior deltoids muscles than traditional push-ups. This is because more load will be placed on a single side, therefore, assists you in building upper body strength to master more challenging push-up variations such as one arm push-ups.

Build Incredible Core Strength

This exercise promotes full-body control as the body will be inclined to shift or rotate to one side with each rep performed. Your core stabilizer muscles will fire away via “anti-rotation” which is a movement that requires you to withstand the force that is trying to cause your trunk to rotate. Hence why this exercise enables you to build incredible core strength. 

Archer Push-Ups Variations

Incline Archer Push-Ups

Incline archer push-ups is a regression exercise to regular archer push-ups as it puts your body in an upward slope position, where your hands are placed on a platform that is higher than your feet. This takes load away from your upperbody, therefore making this variation easier to do. This exercise is great for targeting the lower chest. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin placing your hands on an elevated surface such as a bench, a chair, or a plyometric box. Your hands are wider than shoulder-width. Keep your core and glutes engaged to maintain a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you bend your right elbow, pushing your body away to the right until the left arm is straight. Your right-hand fingers are facing forward, and your left-hand fingers are facing outward-left. Keep your core tight and body rigid.
  3. Exhale as you push through your right hand and return to the station position. Squeeze your chest and triceps at the top position. Repeat this movement on the other opposite side.
  4. Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps, for 4 sets. It is recommended that you reduce the height of the elevated platform as you get stronger to increase the intensity of your workout.

 

Decline Archer Push-Ups

Once you have mastered the regular archer push-ups, you should progress towards decline archer push-ups. This variation will help you build bigger and stronger upper chest and front shoulder muscles, as your body will be at a downward slope, which puts more load on the working muscles. To perform this, you will:

  1. Start in a wide grip push-up position with your feet on an elevated surface. Engage your glutes and core to ensure the body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you bend your right elbow, pushing your body away to the right until the left arm is straight. Your right-hand fingers are facing forward, and your left-hand fingers are facing outwards-left. Maintain core and glute activation.
  3. Exhale as you push through your right hand and return to the starting position. Squeeze your chest and triceps at the top position. Repeat this movement on the opposite side. Your left-hand fingers are now facing forward, and your right-hand fingers are facing outward-right.
  4. Repeat this movement between 6-18 reps, for 4 sets. You can progress by increasing the height of the elevated platform to the difficulty. This is due to your body being in a steeper downward angle which puts more weight on the working muscles.

One Arm Push-Ups

The one-arm push-ups is a great demonstration of strength and body control. This is an advanced level exercise as the movement requires core contraction to a greater extent. You should try this variation once you are comfortable with doing archer push-ups. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a plank position with one arm supporting your body, whilst the other is behind your back. Your shoulder is stacked directly on top of your wrist, and your feet are approximately at the shoulder width. Keep your back straight by engaging your glutes and core. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you lower your body towards the side of the supporting arm. Engage your core to not let the hips sag.
  3. Exhale as you push through the palm to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this movement between 2-12 reps for 4 sets. Practice on both sides in a single set. 

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.