Here's a little motivation to get you rockin some presses and get moving & groovin everywhere and anywhere you go. No excuses for no time to hit the gym, just get inverted and get your upper body strong. I have a ton of progressions for bodyweight pressing from beginner to advanced, but the most important thing to remember is, you'll never get better or stronger if you don't practice all the damn time. Step number one for a stronger upper body using bodyweight only is: spend some time on your hands. Until you get that through your thick skull, don't even think about step two. This video is just about getting out and having some fun. With all the intense training you do, you have to make time to play.
Bodyweight Training is, in my opinion, the best way to get your upper body stronger, healthier, more impressive looking and more useful. I'm always including some form of it in my training programs. Sometimes its bodyweight only, other times I use is as assistance for weightlifting. Either way, it rocks. If you're interested in a done-for-you program that works, and is guaranteed to get you insane results of increased strength and usefulness, not to mention a much more impressive physique, you'll want to check out Zach Even-Esh's Bodyweight Bodybuilding. This is an awesome resource that eliminates any excuse for not having the time to train or hit the gym and get great results. Check it out HERE.
Here is a progressive tutorial on the muscle-up, one of the many exercise tutorials on The Consummate Athlete. Check out The Consummate Athlete and take a look at all the cool exercise tutorials, progressions, and workouts we have. You can't go through life doing the same boring dips, squats and leg raises and expect profound new gains. As much as I love the basics, you need to step up your game if you want to make serious advances in strength and skill. It's FREE for a week, so you got nothing lose, except your weakness.
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I made a video of my Russian friend, Boris, playing with his new toy, check it out...
Throughout the following series of videos, I have repeatedly referred to the "exercises" as movements or exercises, but in actuality, they are just positions. Make no qualms about it, with diligent training and progress, these positions will help make a beast out of you. We are currently developing the "fundamental static positions" (fsp) of gymnastics. Developing proficiency in these positions can greatly enhance your posture and performance in all other endeavors in life, including moving furniture, heavy deadlifting, and standing out in a crowd.
Last week we introduced the frog stand, which is essentially the first position in developing the planche. This week we go further into the next progression, as well as introduce interrelated positions that correlate to one another and keep you balanced and your core strong like bull. With consistent practice and diligent training, you will enhance your flexibility, strength and stamina. Developing proficiency in these fsp's will do more for your core strength and athletic development than almost anything else, in my opinion. These are positions that require bracing, activation and utility of the entire body, from fingers to toes, when done properly.
Practicing these positions will ultimately increase your weightlifting ability, but sadly, the reverse is not necessarily true. On a separate note, these basic positions will develop stronger and more flexible joints and connective tissue. This is something that you simply can not rush. It takes approximately 6-8 times as long to build connective tissue strength or recover from tissue injuries than it does for muscular issues. The connective tissue requires a lot of time under tension to develop, which is why holding certain positions for a long period of time and carrying heavy objects for long distances is great for this end. On the other hand, high intensity bouts of exercises performed as fast as possible, which seems to be one of the newest trends in fitness training these days, is a sure fire way to neglect time under tension, and ultimately, increase the risk of suffering joint and connective tissue injuries. But no worries, you totally crushed that WOD and got a new PR, dude!
Strength is a skill and your pursuit of it should not be rushed. Be diligent with your practice and enjoy the benefits of your hard work with years of practical progressions and evolution while your friends are changing their workout goals daily and spinning their wheels into an eternity of Beginnerville, making an occasional appearance in Novicetown. Of course there is a time and need all different types of training activity, but always keep in mind, if you are a beginner you should train like one. Likewise, if you have been training for many years and are still doing the same things you did when you started, maybe it is time to kick your training up a notch and get out of your comfort zone. There are several ways to do this, but the best way is, and always will be, to work with a qualified coach who understands you and your goals.
Click here to see the video tutorials and progressions, check out The Consummate Athlete FREE for a week, and please share with your friends.
My roommates and I were supposed to get picked up by one of our teammates to go train tonight. Last minute change of plans kept the ride from coming and I had to find a way to get my training in. The plans called for deads and presses, so I just kept it to bodyweight drills. I subbed headstand leg lifts for the deads, which do a great job hitting the spinal erectors, as well as several other muscles, and I subbed strapped headstand push ups for the presses. I also added in some "Y" pulls on the strap to 1.) hit the back of the shoulder after all the anterior delt work with the presses and 2.) spend some time on my feet, because two inverted movements makes my head want to explode. Here you go...
This video offers a few easy suggestions to get a little more out of your gymnastic rings with a little piece of nylon webbing and a buckle to help increase your movement pool.
I have a ton of ideas in my head right now, and they are not necessarily organized very well, and I guarantee it will reflect in this post. But that's ok, it might be the pot of coffee I drank to keep me awake after just a few hours of sleep, or merely the fact that there are too many things that I have a problem with. I just want you to understand, it's not you, it's me.
First of all, there is a time, place and need for lots of variety in our training for athletic domination. Even if you are a specialist, added variety can be beneficial to help prevent injury. Doing the same thing over and over again is a guaranteed recipe for disaster, you will either get injured or acquire deficiencies in your overall athleticism. This does not mean that a football player should run cross country, but he does need more variety than power lifts and 20 yard sprints if he wants to dominate. Something as subtle as learning how to snatch a kettlebell vs a dumbbell or barbell is going to enhance ones kinesthetic awareness because of the trajectory of the object being used. The same movement with a new tool creates a little variety and forces a big adaptation which increases athleticism. But of course, you will need to vary your movements, weights, sets, reps, times, distances, locations, etc as well as your tools. It's outstanding dinner conversation really.
Now that we have established a need for change, we should know how to best address the demands of a new stimulus to progress your skill. I suggest you always start light, ridiculously light, to acquire a "feel" for the movement, weight, tool, brown eyed girl in the corner, etc. Just because you can easily clean and press 135 lb barbell for reps, does not mean ripping a 135 pound partially water filled keg from ground to overhead will be some easy task. I understand this is obvious for some people, but to assume it is already known for everyone is silly. So, practically adjusting the weight is one way to progress.
Another way to progress is to learn about leverage. Consider bodyweight exercises, for example. if I can perform several pushups on the floor easily, I could change my hand position from under my shoulders to further out or even closer to my hips and perform the movement. Now we are talking about leverage disadvantages and moment arms and all kinds of nerdy stuff which is beyond the scope of this article. So, to keep things short, changing your hand and body positions during pressing, pulling, core and static movements can prepare you for big changes in your strength and athleticism. One example would be the difference between a typical "superman" exercise where one lies facing down and lifts their arms and legs up, leaving only their belly contacting the ground. This can be a great static exercise to strengthen the core (or whatever you trendsetters are calling it these days). A much harder progression would be a very similar position, but picture lying on your side with fully extended arms and legs, but instead of your midsection contacting the ground, your hands are gripping a fixed pole and you are hanging horizontally from it, this is called a human flag. This is a static exercise that works your core as well, but to a much more intense degree. There are several ways to progress from one exercise to the next, however. And the more baby steps you take, the better. Without small incremental steps forward, there will likely be very little progress at all. This would be the equivalent of a gym with nothing but 45 lb plates. Without the nickel and dime plates, some of us would never exceed a 225 bench.
That brings me to my final topic of todays lesson...intensity. For some it may mean screaming, yelling and carrying on at the onset of a heavy deadlift. For other's it is about work capacity. In other words, it is mathematical. How much weight did you lift, how far did you lift it, and how fast did you lift it? This way you can observe, measure and repeat your performance. Nothing is arbitrary. We have rules and standards, and more importantly, we have integrity to adhere to these standards (even when others aren't looking). By the way, I once pushed a school bus full of children 1000 feet in 46 seconds to avoid a rampaging herd of steaming buffalo. But the kids were all blind and it was in Niagara Falls when I visited my Victoria's Secret girlfriend, so you can't ask them. But I digress. If that is how you measure intensity, that's fine with me. But intensity is simply the percentage of 1 rep max at which you are working. If my 1 rep max in the squat is 500 lbs and I squat 400 lbs for 5 sets of 3 reps, I just did 80% x 3 x 5. Yes, like that. Others will write differently, I don't care, stop getting me off track.
Now that we have defined intensity, how de we approach it? This will vary for most, but nonetheless, it is extremely psychological. I contend that the higher the level of skill required to perform a task, the less external stimulus is necessary to complete the task successfully. Think about a high stakes put on the golf greens from Tiger. How much noise is the crowd making? Unless it's Happy Gilmore, none if they want him to make it, "JACKASS!" How about the college stands behind the visitor basket at Duke at the Final Four during a free throw shot? They are going nuts with noise and swirly ribbons and tubes and what not to distract the opponent. These external stimuli, aka intensifiers, can help or hinder your performance. If the exercise I'm doing is a heavy set of 3 trap bar deadlifts, I'm blasting the stereo on high getting pumped with a little hootin and hollerin, "Light weight, BABY!" This is a very low skill exercise for me, and yes it is debatable at the elite level. But low skill requires that i get jacked with a slap on my back and some bodies on the floor to prep for my big lift. On the other hand, if I am about to perform a record snatch, I honestly prefer as little external stimulus as possible. I want to be in a zen like state as I focus on the job at hand. I am finding my peaceful warrior from within. It is in there, and sometimes I can only find it with a moment of deep concentration before a max effort skilled movement. I want peace, harmony, and chirping birds as I practice my skill. No external rage showcasing my aggression, only internal focus as i dominate my soul and goal. What brings out the best in you?
In conclusion, add variety to your training with new tools, positions, movements, environments, etc. Be wise with your progressions to avoid injury and ensure that you hurdle plateaus as much as possible. And finally, learn that it is ok to freak out when appropriate, but necessary to remain calm under extremely stressful and highly skilled demands. Mr Miyagi didn't spaz out in the Cobra Kai dojo, did he? Here is a video where I incorporate variety, progressions and intensity into my training. Most of the progressions are very subtle, but make a huge difference in your performance if you are patient and persistent.
Getting outside and having fun in the elements is one of my favorite ways to train. Wait a minute, they're all one of my favorite ways to train. But especially now that the weather is gorgeous, take full advantage. Being on the beach with nothing else around helps you explore your body and all its glory. I also love getting in the woods to climb trees and throw rocks and basically just be a total neanderthal. I'll save that for another day, however. Today it's about the beach. You can choose how you like to train. You could do a bunch of simple movements like walking lunges, pushups, burpees, etc. Which is fine for conditioning. But today I focused mainly on gymnastic strength with lots of handstands, presses, holds, flips and gorilla runs. Enjoy the video.