Posts Tagged ‘Push-ups’

1. Box Jumps for conditioning


I’ve said this many times in the past, I’m not a fan of box jumps as a tool for conditioning, The purpose of plyometric work is to learn how to generate force (accelerate), but more so, how to absorb it (decelerate). You are defeating the purpose jumping up and down on a tall box like a chimpanzee on crack. More pressingly, they become very demanding on your body when you perform them in that fashion. This opens the door for potential injury.

There are far better options. I’d opt for something with less impact that’s not going to sacrifice future training quality (kettlebell swings, med ball slams, battle ropes, sled work).

2. Push-Ups with elbows flared out



Even though Push-Ups are underrated — and don’t get the respect it deserves for its versatility — being able to do them properly is not an easy task for beginners, especially women. Push-Ups with your elbows flared out isn’t an ideal position. A technical error like that becomes problematic simply because it puts undue stress onto your elbows and shoulders. Moreover, what you’ll typically see is poor anterior core engagement and virtually no recruitment of the triceps.

The ideal position you want is that of an arrow — placing your left elbow at 8 o’clock, and right elbow at 4 o’clock. Initially, it’s going to be significantly harder, but it will pay dividends in the long haul.

3. Overhead Press



Rule of thumb: if you can’t get your arms up overhead without dropping your neck (forward head posture), or over-arching your lower back, then pressing a load over your head is out of the question. Earn the right to do it.

To that end, overhead pressing has never been a main staple in my workouts nor most of my clients, for good reason. The pertinent issue is that a lot of folks can’t do them pain-free. And, in the grand majority of cases, people just demonstrate piss-poor form (top) — it’s like watching a live grenade about to go off.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should totally discard the movement. In fact, I still have a few of my clients do them from time to time because it is a great exercise. It all comes down to risk-reward.

Bottom line: if you can perform them then have at it… but, do so in an efficient manner (bottom).

4. Deadlift Butchery


Many lifters have a tendency to hyperextend through the lower back at the top of the deadlift. Admittedly, I’ve also been guilty of this in the past. This aberrant movement becomes more pronounced as the load gets heavier and heavier.  Don’t believe me? Go to any commercial gym and see for yourself.

In all fairness though, those same people are just unaware of how to actually use their hips.  We’re always going to resort to the path of least resistance. So, in this case it’s much easier to rely on our lower back than our glutes (or lack thereof).

Luckily, this can be easily rectified by pumping the brakes and backing off on the heavy loads to give yourself some time to… yanno, work on technique.

Two ways I’ve found to be extremely helpful in dissociating low back movement for true hip extension is the Hip Thrust and Sumo Deadlift.

5. “Squatty” Kettlebell Swing


There’s a world of difference between a knee-dominant movement, and a hip-dominant movement. With that in mind, the most butchered exercise out of the bunch would have to be the Kettlebell Swing. If applied appropriately and executed correctly, it can improve hip strength and build a solid backside. Treating it like a squat, however, ruins many of the benefits.

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Having a nice set of abs does not come from a thousand sit-ups or crunches. While traditional core exercises can play a (small) role in developing an aesthetically pleasing mid-section, abdominal definition is the result of proper nutrition, not core work. If you want those muscles to show, pay attention to what you eat.

With that in mind, it’s important to know the primary function of your core musculature — stabilize and prevent unnecessary movements.

Here are my top five core exercises to build a solid core.

1. Bodysaw


These are one of those “so simple, yet so effective” exercises. I’ve done this in the past, but I’ve never truly appreciated it until recently. The action is like that of a saw, with a forward and back motion coming from the shoulders. Interestingly, I’ve found this to be so much more effective than rollouts on the stability ball, for two reasons:

  • Most notably, less complaints of back pain (provided you do them correctly).
  • There were some cases where my clients would have a tendency to use their triceps with stability ball rollouts.

You can easily progress this by going further back. But beware, this exercise is not for the faint of heart. You’ll really feel them in your abs.

It’s important to note that to execute this movement properly (and with most core exercises), you have to brace your core and squeeze your glutes.

2. TRX Fallout


This is very much like an ab wheel rollout because you’re essentially engaging your anterior core to resist extension.  Although, I’m more partial to this exercise because not everyone has access to an ab wheel, and it’s a much easier set up. The good thing about the TRX Fallout is that it can be easily regressed or progressed by adjusting the length of the straps, and walking in front or behind the anchor (attachment point).

To increase the difficulty, simply set up behind the anchor. To make it easier, set up in front of the anchor. Avoid excessive arching of the lower back by squeezing your glutes and bracing your core. It should be a straight line from your head to your feet.

3. Suitcase Carry


Generally, those with limited hip mobility are folks that experience chronic lower back pain. A basic core exercise such as the side plank is a simple, yet effective way to develop the lateral stabilizers — thus, reducing stiffness and/or pain of the lower back while improving hip mobility. To be honest though, side planks can be a bit boring.

To kick it up a notch, the suitcase carry does a great job of working your lateral core and grip strength. Think of it as a loaded dynamic version of the side plank. You’re basically walking with a load (preferably a kettlebell) in one hand.

The main objective here is to stay upright with no lean and keeping your shoulders leveled.

4. Shoulder Touch Push-ups


Integrating different push-up variations are one of the best ways to strengthen your core. There’s a variety of ways you can go about it.  For simplicity’s sake, though, we’ll cover Shoulder Touch Push-ups. You’re killing two birds with one stone. Here’s why: there’s obviously a tremendous amount of anterior core engagement in the push-up position. Adding in a unilateral component such as this in particular challenges core rotary stability. Put simply, it fries your core from two planes of motion — trust me, that’s a good thing.

If you want to make it harder, try performing it on a medicine ball.

5. Reverse Plank Walks


Traditionally, doing this in a forward fashion bothered some of my clients wrists, so a tidbit I picked up from Coach Ben Bruno was to do them in reverse. Adding a mini-band solves the issue of sagging and/or shifting of the hips, which maintains anterior core stress.

One way of making these harder is to deliberately make larger excursions as you move backwards.




I’ve provided you with a couple of my favorite core exercises.  These movements will strengthen the muscles surrounding the hips and spine. Thus, allowing you to move and perform better. While I’m of the belief that you can build a pretty solid core with some good ol’ fashion heavy lifting, you still have to throw in some additional core work. Give each of them a try and let me know how it goes.

I’m happy to announce that I’m taking clients for my online fitness coaching. If you want to get stronger, build lean muscle, and decrease body fat, learn more about my coaching here. 

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