Skip to content
Join Life Time
a woman holds a squat in the middle of the man maker exercise

The man maker exercise is a full-body dumbbell complex that combines three strength moves — pushups, renegade rows, and thrusters — into a single, flowing compound exercise.

While the base moves that make up this complex are strength exercises, their combination results in an exercise that rivals the conditioning challenge of burpees. In fact, before attempting the man maker, also known as the human maker, it would be a good idea to practice pushups, rows, and burpees individually to build up strength and stamina (see “Practice Your Moves” below).

Man Maker Step-by-Step Instructions


  1. Place two dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Grasp the weights and assume a high-plank position with your feet hip-width (or wider) apart. Brace your core.
  2. Perform a pushup, bending your elbows to lower and pressing through the dumbbells to return to a high plank.
  3. At the top of the pushup, perform one renegade row on the right side by drawing your elbow up while balancing on one hand and both feet. Lower the rowing weight and repeat the row on the left side. Avoid rocking or twisting your body.
  4. After completing one row on each side, step or jump your feet into a squat stance. Clean the weights up to shoulder height and lower back into a squat position.
  5. Stand up fully, this time pressing the weights from shoulder-height to overhead.
  6. Lower the weights to shoulder-height, squat down, and plant the weights firmly on the floor before stepping or jumping your feet back out into high-plank position.
  7. That is one man maker repetition. Repeat for the desired number of reps, moving slowly and with control to ensure great-for-you form.

How to Modify the Man Maker

And, if you’re just starting, don’t be afraid to modify the man maker to fit your needs! The following pregressions and modification tips can help you build up to the base moves over time:

  • Start with body weight only to get used to the flow of the moves and focus on good form throughout. When you’re ready to add weight, start with light dumbbells.
  • If it’s painful or excessively uncomfortable to hold the dumbbells while in a plank position, place your hands on the floor on either side of the weights. Pick up the weights when you’re ready to do the rows and thruster.
  • If balance and stability in the pushup and row position is a challenge, widen your stance. Set your feet as wide as you need to — a stable base will help you keep your hips squared. You can also play around with lowering your knees to the floor.
  • And whatever variation of the man maker you’re doing, remember to breathe!
Photography by: Christy Rice, Videos by: Jennifer Jacobson, Model: Maggie Fazeli Fard
Maggie Fazeli Fard

Maggie Fazeli Fard, RKC, is an Experience Life senior editor.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Like This

reverse burpee

How to Do the Reverse Burpee

By Maggie Fazeli Fard

This playful variation on a classic exercise delivers similar strength and cardio benefits — minus the pushup.

Back To Top