Yet another push up variation

One of my past posts introduced an “exercise” I called the Pushback.  

 I’m giving you a variation on the pushback today, and this one’s a real exercise.  The push up is a classic old school exercise that many people overlook.  To many, it just sounds too simple to be effective.  However, sometimes the easiest solutions are also some of the most effective and the push up is no exception.  The Pushback Push Up adds a different twist by engaging the shoulders and upper back in a different way than the standard push up. 

Give this one a try and leave me a comment below to let me know how you like it.

You’ve Seen the Plank, Try the Side Plank

The plank is one of my favorite exercises because it engages so many muscles of the body and it’s so simple. 

After doing the plank for a while, you’ll find that you get more efficient at it and you’ll begin looking for ways to change it. 

You've Seen the Plank, Try the Side Plank
You've Seen the Plank, Try the Side Plank

One way to change the plank is to perform a side plank. The forward plank primarily focuses on the abs and low back while engaging stabilizing muscles to keep you steady. 

The side plank has you up on one arm, rather than two, with your body perpendicular to the ground. 

This position engages the obliques to keep gravity from doing it’s work and bringing your midsection to the floor. Hold the side plank as long as you can, switch to the other side, and repeat.

Walk the plank, Thai style

I love the plank because of the combination of simplicity and difficulty. It’s simple in terms of equipment needed (read: none), but it’s not easy. And depending on the variation and your level of fitness, it can be quite a challenge.

Try Thai
Try Thai

This version, called the Thai Plank, changes your position to focus more on the oblique muscles on the sides of the body that are responsible for resisting lateral flexion. 

As an example of lateral flexion, imagine yourself carrying one heavy grocery bag with one arm using the handles. You pick up the bag and start carrying it, but you drop to that side and walk unbalanced. 

That’s lateral flexion. 

Strengthen your core and you’ll be better able to support that weight.

Unlike traditional static planks, the Thai Plank introduces movement, which changes your balance point and increases the challenge even further.  

If you find this version a bit too difficult, regress it by lifting the arm and leg straight up rather than out in front of you.  If that’s still too tough, eliminate the movement until you’re confident enough to take it to the next step. 

Stability balls get a bad rap

Stability balls get a bad rap. 

Pick up a magazine from the grocery store and you’re likely to see someone doing crunches on the ball. But for many, the program ends there. 

Stability balls aren't just for wimps
Stability balls aren't just for wimps

The stability ball can be used many ways to help you develop those stabilizers, develop better balance, and improve functional movement. 

The ball can also be used many ways to develop core stability and strength. As an added bonus, you can change between exercises quickly because you’re only using one piece of equipment. That means you can get more work done in less time, leaving more time for your life.

Here are three of my favorites:

  1. Hamstring curl: Lie face up with your heels on the top of the ball. Lift your hips off the ground to create a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Draw your feet in toward your butt while driving the hips upward. Don’t flex at the hip, maintain that straight line from the knees to the shoulders. 
  2. Rollout: Start on your knees with your hands touching the side of the ball about 12 inches from the floor. Roll your hands forward and follow the ball with the rest of your body. Make sure your hands, hips, and shoulders are all moving at the same time and at the same rate of speed. If your hands and/or shoulders are moving, your hips should be moving forward as well.
  3. Reverse hyperextension: This one requires a great amount of control, so try this one with a friend standing beside you with their hands on the sides of the ball. Place the ball on top of one end of a weight bench. Stand at one end of the bench facing the ball and drape yourself over the ball. Plant your chest on the ball and grasp the sides of the bench. If you can’t reach the bench, this one might not be for you unless you have a smaller ball.  Maintain a strong grip on the bench and be prepared to manage the side to side movement of the ball as it wants to skate from side to side. Lift your feet off the ground to create a straight line with your body from your head to your toes while balancing on the ball and holding on to the bench.  

Leap Day Workout

It’s Leap Day and here’s a workout that you’ll remember until the next Leap Day.

This is a very dynamic plyometric workout with lots of jumping, so make sure you’re prepared for this intensity and impact on the body.  If you haven’t been doing plyometric workouts regularly, don’t make this one your first.

Begin with a solid dynamic warm up.  Examples of exercises you can include in your warm up are lateral lunges, reverse walking lunges with an overhead reach, bodyweight squats, skipping, and Frankenstein walks. Here’s the workout.  You’ll do each exercise 29 times and then repeat the circuit as many times as you can in 29 minutes.  Take as much reast as you need to make sure you’re safe, but only as much as you absolutely need.  Your goal is to keep your heart rate up, not to get a full recovery.  Happy Leaping!

  • 29 Speed skaters
  • 29 Frog jumps
  • 29 Rotation jumps
  • 29 Lunge jumps
  • 29 Bench hopovers
  • 29 Jumping jacks
  • 29 Box jumps to burpee

Happy Leap Day!