I have many women and even some men tell me that they want to be able to do perfect full push ups and push ups.
And I say “OK!”
Because there is a way to get there! Consistent hard work and a well thought out progression based on what you need to work on will get you there!
So this really applies to any exercise that you want to be able to do, but honestly two of the exercises that most people can’t do, but should be able to do are the push up and pull up (also, most people recently have been telling me they want to be able to do these two moves so I figured I would focus on them).
First, consider all of the muscles used in the move.
For push ups, you use your pecs, shoulders, triceps, core and even your quads and legs. Most often though, people need to focus on core strength and either shoulder or tricep strength.
For pull ups, core and back strength are essential. The grip you use will also determine how much bicep is involved.
Once you identify the muscles used, you can work on those muscles. That doesn’t mean you have to start doing tricep extensions and bicep curls.
You can still do compound movements.
So to work on improving your push up, first assess where you are. Can you do a push up with your hands on an incline? Can you do a push up from your knees? And when I say “Do a push up.” I mean a PERFECT form push up from that position.
Same goes for pull ups. Can you do jumping pull ups? Can you do pull ups where you jump up and slowly lower yourself down? Can you do a pull up and hold? Or can you do a chin up but not a full pull up yet?
Get a clear picture of where you are starting from. If you know exactly where you are at, you can design a program that will get you to where you want to be.
If you don’t have a clear starting point, how the heck are you going to outline a clear progression!?! You won’t know how long it will take you to get somewhere if you don’t even know where you are starting from!!
So once you know what muscles are involved and where you are starting from, you must create workouts that strengthen your weak areas and progress you toward you end goal.
While you will want to do lots of push ups and pull ups during your progression they shouldn’t be the only thing that you are doing.
For push ups, do some core strengthening exercises. Do some crawling that targets your shoulders, core and quads. Do some form of dips, be they full dips or dips off a bench. I mean even get creative with it. Try some chest flies on the slider. Do some ab roller to work your arms and core. Battling ropes can be good. Medball chest passes are a good explosive way to work your upper body.
There are lots of ways to work. Pick exercises that target your weak points!
For pull ups, battling ropes again can be good. Working on different variations of pull ups can help. Try some medball slams into the ground. You can do ones straight ahead or rainbow slams where you slam it down on each side. Do some inverted rows. Some pivot prone pulldowns. Work on your grip strength. Heck even just playing on the monkey bars will definitely help!
And the good part about some of the things that you can do to work on both of these moves is that they will improve your overall posture and strength not JUST progress you toward a perfect pull up or push up.
There are even moves that can benefit both exercises in some way such as the parallel bar press. Just hold your body straight up off of parallel bars or a dip machine. Don’t be a “turtle” aka keep your shoulder blades pull back and down and your spine long. Your neck should be long and not tucked back into your shoulders like a turtle pulling its head into its shell. Just hold. Keep your abs engaged and your shoulder blades retracted. You will feel this in your back and your arms and even your core.
Anyway, there are a bazillion ways to strengthen your body to progress toward a pull up or push up. Don’t just flounder blindly and HOPE you will get there. SET UP A PROGRESSION!
If you need help or want some exercises to help you strengthen your weak points, let me know!
I can do better.
So Ryan and I weren’t a finalist in the Primal Blueprint workout video contest, but we did have a whole heck of a lot of fun making the video.
Maybe it will inspire you this weekend to workout!
If it doesn’t below is a great bodyweight workout that I did in my training session today (which the Man Bicep Mom attended!)
10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side)
1 arm TRX rows
Push ups (chest to ground)
Rainbow slams with a medicine ball
10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side…so like 10 Mountain Climbers each leg)
Backwards lunges on sliders
Scapular hold against a wall or floor for 30 seconds
Mountain Climbers on sliders
Side lunges on sliders
Complete the entire workout as quickly as possible. Really a good workout for a stabilization day!
I’m constantly looking to learn, grow and improve upon what I’m currently doing. And I encourage everyone else to do the same.
So for the moment my heavy barbell lifting will be put on hold as I learn how to master all of the other equipment at the new gym I work at.
Does this mean that I will no longer be lifting heavy weights?
The only thing that will change is what types of heavy weights I will be lifting.
But my training is always constantly changing.
Honestly, if you are still doing the same training that you were doing 6 months ago, you should be embarrassed.
Things change. Workout programs get stagnant and stale.
AND if you want to be truly fit….if you want to be that Renaissance fitness person, you constantly have to be learning, trying and perfecting new skills!
So over the next few months, you not be hearing much about the traditional deadlift (although I do love you barbell deadlift and will miss you greatly!).
Instead you will be hearing more about Olympic lifting, kettlebells, tire flipping, plyometrics, sled pushes, battling ropes, kickboxing (not the classes without gloves), and Brazilian Jui Jitsu. You will still continue to hear about all of the wonderful bodyweight exercises I love, 1 leg squats, push ups and pull ups, in all sorts of variations.
Are you excited?!?!
So get ready for the next phase in Man Bicep Training! Time to learn and grow and become stronger, fitter and happier!
Side note: There is no revision currently to my dieting beliefs. Simply put they are still “Eat whole natural foods and avoid processed crap and refined or empty carbs.” However, I will be discussing different foods and how I feel about them over the next couple of weeks since there have been some common questions arising.
It has been nice outside the past few days so Ryan and I have gone outside to workout. A great way to get our Vitamin D for the day! (More about the importance of Vitamin D later!)
Our favorite outdoor workout spot is down by the Charles River. There is a little outdoor workout area with pull up bars and places to do abs, push ups, inverted rows, plyometrics and more.
Last year we did the Murph down there.
This year our first outdoor workout was:
1 round as fast as you can:
50 Pull ups
50 Push Ups
50 Inverted Rows
50 Sit ups
The 1.5 mile walk down to the river felt good, but the 1.5 mile walk back wasn’t near as fun. The workout was definitely a bit harder because we aren’t yet used to the heat and humidity.
What made the walk back more rewarding was a nice BBQ meal with some delicious Cider Sangria.
We grilled up some delicious Grass-fed Buffalo Flank Steak courtesy of The Meat House!
The other day a client asked me about my workout routine and I got super excited to explain the new phase of my program.
My enthusiasm made her say, “You’re kind of a fitness nerd…aren’t you?”
You know those really annoying people who could talk about something every second of every day?
And I like to think that my enthusiasm is infectious. Actually, I know it is because enthusiasm in general is infectious.
Today, I was working with a new client who wanted to start lifting heavy. (YAY!) My excitement to work with her and her excitement to lift just made the entire meeting fly by.
But the most important part is that my love of lifting was passed on to her. She enjoyed the session so much that I know, that not only will she continue to lift heavy, but that she will also tell her friends that they should too!
Enthusiasm for women lifting heavy is infectious. I’m just doing everything I can to spread the love.
On that note, if you like the Man Bicep Facebook page AND like the comment/video that says “For every like, I’ll do a push up” Candy or I will actually do a push up! Check out the 7 push ups we’ve done already!
So I definitely have noticed more women in the weight room recently.
Unfortunately most of these women are doing high reps with very little weight. I’ve also noticed that most of them are only doing single muscle group movements.
The exercises that women seem to love:
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extensions
- Adductor machine
- Abductor machine
While these exercises can be great auxiliary lifts for someone looking to strengthen weak points in their bench, deadlift or squat, these single muscle group movements really are pointless to do otherwise. Plus if you do compound movements, you will work all of those muscles that you are working with those isolated exercises and many more!
Single muscle group movements don’t give you much bang for your buck. You don’t burn very many calories doing them AND you can’t spot reduce problem areas. So while you may be making your bicep stronger, you aren’t specifically removing flab from over the bicep.
Your time would be much better spent doing compound movements because they work the biggest muscles groups in your body, which will help you build strength, burn fat, acquire optimal body function and improve your health.
Lifting weight while using multiple muscle groups elicits a much higher level of positive hormones than training just one muscle group at a time. These hormones include testosterone, insulin-like growth factor 1, and growth hormone. These hormones are what will help you build lean muscles, burn fat, and improve your health.
So not only are you building lean muscles, but you are also more efficiently working your entire body to burn more calories than you would if you did an isolated muscle group movement. You also improve your cardiovascular health and joint stability and muscle balance across your joints by performing compound exercises.
So if you really want to work your bicep, don’t do a curl. Instead perform a pull up or a row. If you want to work your tricep, bench press or do a push up or even a full dip. If you want to work your adductors and abductors, do a squat or lunge or sumo deadlift!
AND if you need a workout with lots of compound exercises, check out the Man Bicep Weekly Workout!
So Candy found this video of Ellen and Michelle Obama doing push ups. I was very amused even though I did want to tell them both that they needed to get lower! Chest to the ground ladies!
So the Man Bicepers were put in charge of coming up with some challenging moves that we could post to our gym’s Facebook page. Below are some of the moves we came up with. If you have any other suggestions, send them our way!!! We need LOTS more!
Here are our first attempts at The Impossible. Try it!