Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/19 & 7/23 – Catch up

A couple random thoughts…

  • Fantasy football season is approaching. For those of us who partake, getting ready for the draft is fun, AND, if you do a live draft with fun people, it can end up being one of your favorite days of the year. I very much miss the live drafts I used to do when I lived on the east coast with my buddies. I have to do those remote, and it sucks. Fantasy football drafts should be full of cooking out, beer, and progressively crooked name stickers on the draft board.
  • Watched the movie “Tag” on Friday. Lots of fun. Highly recommend it. I clearly like stupid comedies since I wax poetic about the merits of Happy Gilmore. So, if you enjoy movies like Happy Gilmore, you’ll enjoy “Tag.” And, it teaches a very nice lesson about long term friendships. And, its based on a true story – that makes it even more fun.
  • Lawns are annoying during heat waves. Even though you water every day (and jack up your water bill), parts of the lawn still turn brown and look awful. Really feels like a waste of time. I wonder if my HOA will allow a backyard of just sand and/or rocks…?
  • Listened to a podcast where they debated the merits of what to call your grandparents. Side note – listening to people debate the merits of stupid topics is actually pretty funny. The more thoughtful and articulate the arguments, the funnier it gets. Listening to their breakfast food draft was hilarious.
    • Such names included…
      • Grandma (or grandpa) followed by first name (ex: Grandma Jean)
      • Gammy / Gampy
      • Nanna / Pop pop
    • Not sure where I land on this topic. I know we are going with Nana for Baby Breaking’s relationship with his grandmother. That was kind of issued to us since she was already a nana from other grandchildren. Can’t derail that train. Kids get confused. I don’t know what I’ll want to be called once my kid has his own spawn. Unless something better comes along, I think my vote will be “Pop pop.” For the female side, I’m a huge fan of Me-Maw. For some reason, years of watching “The Big Bang Theory” have ingrained that in my head. Grandmother = memaw. Case closed.

Since I’ve been trying to finish out my 3 Week Yoga Retreat review, I’ve been doing that every other day. To not fall too far behind on maintaining my other strength, I’ve just been doing push/pull routines on my non-yoga and non-rest days. All of that volume should pay off in one way or another. As long as I’m getting proper rest between sessions, it can’t help but benefit me.

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/19 & 7/23 – Catch up

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My Favorite Push Up Variations

The push up is a great exercise. It is so simple. All you need is your body, a surface to push against, and some good ol’ fashioned gravity.

The muscles under tension with the push up include:

  • pectorals
  • deltoids
  • triceps
  • core
  • serratus anterior

There are MANY ways you can alter the physics of the push up to make it easier or harder. Foot placement, hand placement, foot elevation, hand elevation, single arm, single leg, tempo/cadence, and incorporating plyometric elements are all ways to manipulate this great exercise. Make no mistake about it – you can build some amazing chest strength just by doing advanced push up variations.

I would like to share with you some of my favorite varieties.
Superman push up – this is a full plyometric version where you explode up and straighten your arms and legs.

 

Spiderman push up – as you lower yourself into the push up, touch your knee to your tricep on that same side (if you move your right knee, touch your right tricep).

 

Plyometric spiderman push up – start with staggered hands and feet. Explode off the ground and switch hand/foot position.

 

4-ball push up – this is a tricky one. It really challenges your core. Each hand is on its own ball, and each foot is on its own ball. You need to really lock in your core and glutes and keep them rigid as you move.

 

Chest clap push up – this is another plyometric variety that is a nice progression to superman push ups. Explode up from the bottom of the move, clap your chest with both hands, and get your hands back down.

 

Moving push up – pick a direction to move (for example, left), and from your plank position, move your left arm and left leg at the same time to the left, lower yourself as you move, and push yourself back up. Move as many times as you want in one direction, and then reverse it.

 

Full jack push up – this is another plyometric variety where you start in high plank with your hands inside shoulder width and feet inside hip width. In an explosive move, widen your hands and feet at the same time as you go into the bottom of the push up. Explode back up.

 

Dive bomber push up – this is a deceptively tough move to do for high reps – really gets your shoulders going. Start in downward dog position, glide your body forward into upward dog position, and then reverse it back. The key is to keep your elbows in towards the body.

 

Diamond push ups – this version will not only forge triceps of steel, but will also improve forearm strength and wrist mobility. Form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs. Also called a close grip push up by some.

 

Push up – saved the most important for last. You need to master this move before you try any other variations. Start with hands just about shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be right over your elbows which should be right over your wrists. These joints should be “stacked.” Make sure you are in a good plank position (butt down, core pulled in). Start with your feet about hip distance apart. As you progress to higher reps, move your feet in to the point where they are touching. Once you can do high reps (30+ per set) in this position, move your hands in and progress to diamond push ups. Once you have achieved high reps on the diamond push ups (30+ per set), then have a blast doing other challenging varieties. Take the time to lock in and learn good form. Build the proper foundation.

 

Do you have any favorite push up variations? If so, please let us know about them in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thanks!

Workout Review – P90X3 – The Challenge

With my glute still a little tender from a prior injury, I decided to dust off an oldie but goodie workout – P90X3 – The Challenge. I’ll be doing a full review of P90X3 (Tony Horton is a character – you can’t help but like him) at a later date, but I like this particular routine so much, I do it once in a while outside of the P90X3 framework just to get a good high volume session in. This is a very simple and old-school routine that just requires a pullup bar and a floor. The workout is confined to the upper-body area, and is a simple push/pull routine. Meaning, you do push ups and pull ups. A lot of push ups and pull ups.

t rex pushups

photo credit: teepublic

The framework is pretty simple. You will complete 4 rounds, and perform the two exercises in each round twice before moving onto the next round. There is programmed rest between the exercise pairings, and then a slightly longer rest between rounds. This session won’t be a heart rate champ – this is just horsepower! I guarantee you will have blood in your muscles after this session is done.

Round 1:

  • Wide grip pull ups (overhand grip)
  • Regular push ups

Round 2:

  • Chin ups (underhand grip)
  • Military push ups (hands inside shoulder width, elbows close to the body)

Round 3:

  • Close grip pull ups (overhand grip)
  • Wide push ups

Round 4:

  • Staggered grip pull ups (one hand overhand, one hand under hand)
  • Staggered hand push ups (one hand forward, one hand close to the body)

Burnout:

  • 1 pull up (any style), 3 push ups (any style) for remaining 2+ minutes

The session adjusts itself over time to your strength gains. You basically pick a number for each movement, and you must do that number of reps throughout the entire session. For example, I’ve done this workout tons of times, so I decided to try and go big this time around, and chose 30 reps for my push movements and 9 for my pull movements. That means, for round 1, I had to do 9 wide grip pull ups and 30 regular push ups, rest briefly, and then do 9 more wide grip pull ups and 30 regular push ups. Following the rest period, I’d follow the same 9 & 30 pattern for the next set of pull/push movements.

The reason this is a good “volume” workout is because if you do the math, you are doing a lot of push ups and a lot of pull ups in 30 minutes. The key is to pick your numbers wisely as to challenge yourself, but also not shoot for the moon so that you can’t do the numbers halfway through. Be sure to keep good records so the next time you do it, you can either up the numbers, or make an adjustment.

As it turns out, I chose my numbers poorly.

chose poorly

After two sets, I realized I bit off more than I can chew. As it turns out, my strength is a little sapped since I’m in my first week of a ketogenic diet cycle. For the next round, I dropped it to 25 and 9, but quickly realized that 20 and 8 would be the only way I was going to complete all of the rounds. This was kind of a step backwards on my prior push up performance during this workout, but the pull work was on par. I’m not going to fret too much. At the end of the session, I clocked in the following totals:

Pull movements (including burnout): 76

Push movements (including burnout): 205

As mentioned previously, this session isn’t about heart rate – its about putting the muscles under tension. A lot. See – HR never even hit 100.

p90x3 challenge hr chart.JPG

 

This workout is a keeper! You don’t even need the video. The framework is simple. It very closely mirrors an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) set up where you lump together multiple exercises for a predetermined amount of reps, set the clock for whatever time interval you want (10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, etc), and see how many rounds you can complete. For example, a very basic AMRAP circuit could be:

AMRAP – 20 minutes

  • 20 pushups
  • 8 pullups
  • 20 air squats

If you knock out 10 rounds in 20 minutes, you just did 200 push ups, 80 pull ups, and 200 air squats. Not a bad volume session.

I completely recommend this workout as one to keep coming back to. There are many ways you can alter it to make it tougher. I’ve worn a 40lb vest while doing it (my numbers per set were much lower, but it was a totally different approach to the session).

Someday, I’d like to be able to do the session with 40 on the push and 18 on the pull like the guy in the video. That is a crazy cross-section between muscle strength and muscle endurance.

Have you ever done P90X3? If so, what do you think of “The Challenge?” Are you a fan of AMRAP workouts? If so, let us know about some of the tougher AMRAPS you’ve done. Please “like” and share if you enjoyed this post. Thank you.