After many long months spend in the gym, focused on barbells and cable machines, some of you may need a reprieve. Well, I, going to share with you one of the best - bodyweight movements. We've covered a number of bodyweight movements in the past, but today we're going to focus on one exercise and many of it's variations: the pushup.
Just The Pushup
Offset Grip: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-OHp36NiY4
Set up in a standard pushup position with a normal hand position. Now, offset your hands slightly - one should be about one hand-length in front of or behind the other. This shouldn't be too much more difficult than a regular pushup, but allows you to start working toward the single arm pushup.
Side to Side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dqQcQrXoYrw
This is another option for progressing toward the single arm pushup. Set up with an extra wide hand position. Before dropping to the ground, push your hips to the left - the rest of your body will follow. Now, drop to the ground. Repeat for the other side. You'll feel a little more stress than normal on the working arm.
This is a higher intensity version of the plyometric pushup and will help increase explosiveness. Create two raised platforms outside of your hand position - just use a few small weight plates to start. Set up in a pushup position with hands between the platforms. Perform a pushup, exploding upward and moving your hands from the floor to the tops of the platforms. Repeat this movement, alternating between hands on the floor and hands on the platforms. Focus on quick, explosive movement and quality over quantity.
Close to Wide Slider
This pushup variation requires not only more strength, but also more coordination. Set up in a pushup position with sliders under both hands. Starting with a narrow hand position, perform a pushup. Now, push your hands into the ground and then out to the sides - you'll end up with a wide hand position. Perform another and repeat.
Full Body Pushups
Start in a standard pushup position with a normal hand position. As you descend to the floor, sweep one leg under and across your body - it's a twist, so it should feel like one. Alternate sides as you go, and consider holding the twisted position to increase the difficulty.
Single Arm: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UzkDI0_4I2g
First, a disclaimer. There are many, many ways to do single arm pushups. Many of those many ways are very difficult. Elite pushup fanatics may not consider this single arm variation to be the best of the best, but it's a mix compromise. Watch the video carefully and use the variations from the first set to work into it.
The easiest way to think of the spider pushup is as a combo pushup plus mountain climber. As you descend to the ground, bring one knee up and to the outside of your elbow, similar to a mountain climber. Either perform all reps on one side and then the other, or alternate as you go.
Other Terrible Combos
TRX Atomic Pushup to Body Saw: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lmGc_H_3yJE
The video doesn't show the atomic part of the pushup (crunch), so add one in before the body saw. Other than that, after you finish the atomic pushup, just follow up with a. Ody saw. Making sure to keep your hips level and body straight, push your body backward to the anchor point, or as far as you can go. Pull yourself back to the start and repeat.
Slider Pushup to Crunch and Pike: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xPXkGGuDvrE
The video only shows a pushup and pike, so just pretend there's also a crunch. Set up in the standard pushup position with sliders under both hands and both feet. First, perform a pushup. Next, a crunch (both knees to chest, like a double leg mountain climber) and another pushup. Finally, perform a pike (slide both feet toward your hands with straight legs) and another pushup. Repeat.
Advanced Burpee: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R2jLaZFB5J0
This can be as easy or as difficulty as you like, but here's my recommendation. Start standing under a pull bar, drop into pushup position, and knock out one pushup of your choice. Move back to the kneeling position, explode upward, and grab the bar. Perform one pullup or your choice. Rinse and repeat.
What You Need To Know:
I love pushups, but we both know they're not an exhaustive training method alone. That being said, the best way to implement them into your training is to use each of these categories as a mini-circuit. Add the circuit to the end of your normal workouts, or use it on your off days. Beginners should start with 5-10 reps on the easier variations and less on the more difficult ones, while advanced trainees may want to double or triple that. Don't worry about overtraining - pushups aren't terribly difficult to recover from and act as great active recovery after tough upper body workouts.