Doing things the right way
I think I spend about half of my career answering questions with two basic responses. “It depends” is brilliant, as most people don’t realize that strength training has hundreds of exercises, dozens of tools and nearly an infinite number of ways of combining everything together. The needs of an NFL lineman and a 70 year old widow are different and, depending on what is going on in their life, doing snatches may or may not be the perfect answer.
Marching alongside of “it depends” is “If done correctly.” In the world of fitness and performance, being stupid, awkward or arrogant can ruin bone, tissue and tendon. There is no place for “hold my beer and watch this” in tuning up for the Olympic games. We need to master the movements we include in training. Usually, movements are better when we discover ways to make them harder.
My friends over at Gym Jones, Mark Twight’s gym that has high demands and even higher standards, has a simple way to make the standard Push Up “better.” It is called “The Proper Push Up.” It’s simple to add to your training and remember this gem when you travel.
It is a standard regular Push Up with one addition. When you bring your chest to the floor, pause there and don’t let your hips settle to the ground. Take your hands off the ground (“resting” on your chest) and simply spread them apart into a “T.” We also call this the “Crucifixion” position. Then, pop your hands back into the usual place and press yourself up to the top.
Testing yourself for a minute on these is illuminating. If you are like me, Push Up tests become a bit like bouncing a basketball. Doing the Proper Push Up for a minute will remind you of all the muscles this exercise will impact.
Let me give you few other examples of movements that can be improved with one small change. I think the single arm row is a great way to build the rhomboids, test symmetry, counter a lot of the posture we do in daily life, and, perhaps, make us look younger and better.
For most of us, and I am with you on this, we overload the lift and it becomes a “Row/Throw.” Try this: insist that at the top of the lift, you pause and keep your thumb in your armpit. Hold for two seconds, then release the row to the straight arm position. You might quickly find that you might be too stiff or too weak to hold the weight that high. Go lighter and try it again. That “burn” in the middle back is the rhomboid muscles; these are an undervalued muscle that can heal shoulder issues and make you look better throughout the day.
Most people still don’t Goblet Squat right and looking at the idiocy in most books and magazines, I’m certain we are not going to see much progress. But, do this for me: at the bottom position, take a moment to drive your knees out with your elbows. Ah, feel that stretch. Now, grind back up.
Sure, the stretch is good for you, like Mom used to say. But, the pause also stops you from rebounding and it makes you squeeze your way back up.
Just for fun, try one of these two workouts:
A Proper Paused Goblet Squat followed by a Proper Push Up.
For the Goblet Squat, use a fourth or a third of your bodyweight. Pick a time like one, two or three minutes and do as many as you can. In a week or so, repeat the workout and add one more rep. Do this a total of four times and get a sense of how much conditioning you get from popping up and down off the ground.
Ten Proper Paused Goblet Squats followed by Ten Proper Push Ups.
9-9, 8-8, 7-7, 6-6, 5-5, 4-4, 3-3, 2-2, and 1-1.
That’s 55 reps in both exercises and a chance to raise the heat in the room.
Will it work for you? Well, it depends if done correctly!