Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Training and Bodyweight Muscle Building

Spring is here! At least in some parts of the country, and even if you are still nursing hot cups of steaming beverages and shivering in your thermal underwear, summer is not far around the corner.

That means more activity and less clothing, which means now is the perfect time to start shedding pounds and packing on some muscle! Fortunately, with bodyweight exercises you can do both, and because it's a busy life, you can keep it simple.

If you have mastered doing 20-30 pushups without much effort, then you are ready for this upper body workout. If not, work on basic, wide hands and close hands pushups to failure and beyond (*see below) until you can.

For those who are ready, do the following exercises, resting about 2 minutes after you have gone to failure and beyond.

*Failure and beyond: When your muscles cannot do another rep of the exercise. You then switch to an easier exercise, such as regular pushups or pushups on your knees, each one to the same degree of failure. If you feel excessive strain on your wrists while doing pushups, consider purchasing some inexpensive pushup stands to relieve the pressure.

Pushing to failure and beyond is how we are going to build some spring/summer muscle, and develop greater body awareness at the same time. You can build muscle with bodyweight exercises, and performing this routine as described will leave you no doubts.

*For these three exercises, when you reach failure, switch to regular pushups to failure, and finally pushups on your knees to failure. As always, warm up your joints with mobility exercises and joint rotations before 'going heavy.'

∞There are no set reps. Go until you can't go any more.∞

Exercise 1: Divebomber Pushup

In this video, she recommends only doing 5 divebomber pushups. But remember, you are going to absolute failure (whether that's 2 or 20,) then switching to regular pushups and then to pushups on your knees.

Do these with minimal momentum, maintaining muscle tension throughout the movement.

Exercise 2: Scorpion Pushups

A good rule of thumb when doing scorpion pushups is to imagine your are trying to touch the heel of the reaching foot to the opposite shoulder. Do these with minimal momentum, maintaining muscle tension throughout the movement.

Exercise 3: Hands to Hips Pushups

As with the other exercises, do these with minimal momentum. Keep the body rigid (as if you'll have a choice!) the entire time and avoid 'bouncing' up and down.

That is your entire chest, shoulders and triceps workout for today! In addition, you will be doing extensive core work and activating the lats quite a bit to stabilize your movements.

How many sets of each should you do? That depends. If you go to complete failure as described, you may not need to or be able to do anymore. 

If you feel you can, give it a try. However, work harder on the second set; really push for those last reps.

***If you want a great read and a handy comprehensive bodyweight fitness reference by your side, I highly recommend this book:

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