Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Push It (Wednesday Workout)

27 Days to a Healthy Body Image: Day 26

I was so disappointed yesterday when I saw a blog-post with this tantalizing title:
How to do multiple pulls ups!

Alas, the post was how to take your body from being able to to a single pull up to multiples.  Not what I needed!

Unfortunately, I have never been able learn to do a single unassisted pull up!  I can't share that awesome skill with you, but I can do push ups!  And (being a deconstructionist by nature) I know how to teach others to do push ups!

Presenting Push Ups: 101  How to successfully do a single push up! (With AMAZING FORM!)

THE Push up Secret:  Push ups are not about arm strength!  Push ups are all about channelling the strength of all your muscles to support the weight of the body while the arms bend.

The Second Push Up Secret: Doing push ups on your knees will strengthen your arms but not help you tone the rest of the muscles needed to do a Full Fledged Push Up.  You must acclimate your body to supporting your body weight.  NO GIRL PUSH UPS !

Acclimating your Muscles: Forward Leaning Rest

The Forward Leaning Rest (aka High Plank, Basic Plank) is the perfect starting place for push up work.  The FLR will help your muscles get ready to push up.  The technique here is essential!  You must use all the muscles you can to support your body weight to decrease the pressure on your arm, shoulders and wrists.  Here's how:

Use the muscles of your core and legs while you push, by tucking your bum under (think ribs to hip bones).  Now squeeze your shoulder blades together and push them down the back.  Imagine you are squeezing a lemon with your shoulder blades.  Now continue by pushing all the weight you can into your toes.  Your arms should feel lighter.

Homework: Begin by practising the forward leaning rest. Arms directly below the shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width apart, hips level, bum tucked under, abs tight, feet narrower than hip width apart, weight pushed into your toes.  Hold for a 10 seconds.  (Forward leaning rest is also know as High Plank Position.)  Rest for 30 seconds.  Repeat.  Do this 2 times a day for a week adding time as you become stronger.

Adding the Push to the Up

 When you can hold High Plank Position for 30 seconds straight try bending your elbows ever so slightly at first.  Remember your form- keep that tuck and weight pushed into the toes.  Practice the push up for 10 seconds, rest for one minute. Push for 10 seconds more.  I don't care if you only go down 1 inch.  Keep working on it!

Gradually allow yourself to go deeper into the decline part of the push up.  The goal is to have your elbows form a 90 degree angle.

Look forward as you lower your body.  A little lower now!
Technique Tip: Neck placement is critical!  As you begin to try to go lower into the push up, you might be tempted to drop your chin and reach your nose toward the floor-- giving yourself the illusion that you are actually deeper than you are.  This relaxes the tuck and puts more weight in the arms.  Don't do it!

Either keep your neck in a fully neutral position or try looking forward at an object in front of you.  The distraction helps keep your mind off of the movement and you will go lower.

Developing Speed and Stamina

If you can already do a couple push ups, "Pushing for Time" can help you develop power in the push.

Pushing for Time: Begin with two or three sets of pushing up for 30-45 seconds.  Rest for 30-45 seconds in between sets.  If you become fatigued during a set, hold the forward leaning rest.  Try this 3-4 days a week for best results.  (After a month of doing this I could pump out 80 push ups without stopping!)

Next week maybe we'll  have Push Up Inferno!!!

P.S.   Really, if you know how to do pull ups and can deconstruct what muscles to engage and how to achieve a single one, will you let me know!?!  It's a crazy dream, but I'd like to do a pull up someday!

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