I love to exercise. That’s my pastime, my hobby, and as a recent lifehack article points out, it’s also one of my skills. While I enjoy push ups though, I enjoy sharing and encouraging others to get active more than anything else. So, in keeping with that spirit, I’m going to share with all of you out there so moves you can do, regardless of your fitness level. And as a neat bonus, I’ve scoured all over the internet for little animations to show you exactly what to do.
So, quit making excuses and get your butt off the couch. It’s time to work up a sweat…
After you read and understand this blog post in its entirety :P.
Jumping Squats (Good for speed-strength, explosive power, and stamina)
One of my absolute favorite moves to do, no matter the routine (I’ll do them as part of my warm up before weight lifting), jumping squats can help increase both stamina and strength. There are two methods I like to employ, especially when instructing others. However, with both moves, it is important that you land lightly. I would also strongly recommend the use of a decent foam mat on a non-slip surface, because doing this move incorrectly can result in some pretty painful joint problems.
Those caveats out of the way, let’s go over the first method:
As you can see, you start out sinking into a low squat position with your legs about shoulder-width apart and your arms straight out in front of you. Then, in one powerful motion, you shoot up, with your feet just barely leaving the ground as your arms swing back. As you come back down, land lightly on your feet into a squat position again. All the while, look straight ahead.
For the second method, be ready to leave the ground entirely. Similar to your stance from before, this time when you jump up, try jumping as high as you can go while driving your arms upward. As with the first method, be sure to land lightly. I really can’t stress that enough.
Another method I like to employ is bringing your knees to your chest mid- jump. You can also do the wide leg variation (legs past shoulder-width), again pulling your legs in mid-jump. If you want to get really crazy (like moi), you can use weights. But I would only recommend that once you can do all of the other methods comfortably and with good form for at least 30 seconds non-stop.
Push-ups (Good for core strength, metabolic rate, and upper body strength and conditioning)
It’s almost an unwritten rule that you can’t write about a decent exercise routine if you don’t include push ups. Push-ups are extremely versatile, both in terms of accessibility and benefits. Pushups employ a wide range of muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps) and the different methods of doing a push-up would fill a blog all on its own. Even then, I still wouldn’t cover the many different ways a push up can be performed. So, for the sake of brevity, I am only going to focus on the most basic push-ups in this post.
In the first method, with your knees on the floor, get into a plank position, keeping your arms shoulder-width apart. Bend at the elbow, allowing them to flare outwards (keeping them glued to your side is another method as well). Make sure that throughout the motion, you are not allowing your chin to dip down against your chest and keep your butt just slightly elevated. This ensures that you keep your spine aligned. If you feel yourself struggling to maintain this form, you’re done. Remember, form is everything.
For the second method, you’re just doing a traditional push-up. Get into a plan position, this time with your toes on the floor as pictured. As before, as you sink down, allow your arms to flare out at your elbows all the while making sure your chin doesn’t dip down to your chest. Keep that back straight unless you want to feel the wrong kind of pain.
Just to touch upon the different ways to do a push-up, elevating your feet (putting them on a chair or other surface higher than your hands) places more of your body-weight on your upper body, therefore making the push-up harder. Likewise, completing the push-up where your hands are on a surface higher than your feet will minimize the load on your upper body, making it easier.
You can also start off with your hands past shoulder-width (wide push-ups) to place more emphasis on your abdominal muscles and chest. Or you can bring your hands closer together, forming a diamond with them upon the ground (aka diamond push-ups) to place more of an emphasis on your triceps.
Pull-ups (Good for cardiovascular fitness and arm and back strength)
Just doing one normal push up can be extremely tough, especially depending on your body-weight. So if you can do one already, congrats!
Now do 10…
Kidding. Sort of.
Like push-ups, there are so many different ways to do pull-ups that I’m only going to focus on the most basic method. Unfortunately, for the beginner method I like to use, I couldn’t find an adequate image so I’ll just describe a normal pull-up because the beginner method simply uses a chair to stand on during the entire motion (or you could simply use a lower bar). In other words, your feet barely leave the ground.
To do a basic pull-up, use an overhand grip on the bar (underhand is a chin-up and is also easier to do), keeping your hands about shoulder-width apart. Whether you’re letting your body hang, or you’re propped up on a chair, lift yourself up, making sure not to tuck your chin into your chest, and raise your head over the bar. With pull-ups, it’s important not to swing around; using momentum to lift yourself up over the bar is cheating. I’ll give you an F for that.
Leave me alone. I’m allowed to be corny.
In any case, keep a steady pace and, like push ups, focus on form over the amount of reps you can get do before you pass out. Also, don’t pass out. That’s not good.
And let me just repeat that pull-ups are hard. There is no shame in needing assistance when doing a pull-up. Also, keep in mind, the heavier you are, the harder it will be. And that’s even moreso than it would be for a pushup. To give you a bit of perspective, with a standard push-up, you’re using about 65% of your body-weight as resistance. Guess how much percentage of your body-weight you use in a pull-up. If you said 100%, you’re wrong.
Alright, kidding again.
So that said, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do a standard push-up right out the gate.
Doing these three moves in a single routine will give you a total body work out. I like doing them for fun when I’m not in the mood to do my standard routine and these moves are also a great way to keep track of your progress. Here’s the routine I personally like to use that incorporates these particular moves.
The 10 to 1 (Or 9 to 1…or 8 to 1…or well, you get the idea)
BEFORE you begin this routine, you have to warm up first, and I DON’T MEAN STRETCHING. A common misconception, which I will only touch upon now, is that you stretch before a work out. In a sense you do, but before you even stretch, you have to warm up the muscles. Think of it this way, stretching muscles without warming them up is like trying to bend uncooked spaghetti. Bending uncooked spaghetti results in you snapping it in half. Likewise, stretching before you warm up your muscles can result in pretty painful injuries.
So, while you should stretch before a work out, you should warm up before you stretch.
Warm Up (At Least 3 Minutes Non-stop)
I’ll give a bit a leeway here. Simply warm up by doing a light jog, some jumping jacks, you can even use a jump rope. As is the case with stretching before a routine, you want to warm up the muscles you actually intend to use during the routine. Remember not to over-exert yourself. You’re not doing a marathon, you’re just trying to get the blood pumping.
Stretching (At Least 3 Minutes Again)
When stretching, stick with dynamic stretches. A dynamic stretch means you are emotion and not staying static (static stretches have actually been shown to decrease performance in a work out). When using dynamic stretches, you typically want to keep a steady, moderate pace. Don’t speed through it. Remember, as with the warm up, you want to stretch the muscles you intend to use.
For this routine, try these:
Mini squats– to prep your body for the more extreme motion, do about 30 mini squats. These can be relatively fast and don’t go all the way down into a deep squat.
Arm swings- Just as it sounds, swing your arms out from your chest (inhale) and swing them back in as if you’re giving yourself a hug (exhale)
Arm circles- with your arms extended outward, make circular motions with your shoulders. Start off with small circles, going both forward and backward. Then do the same while making bigger circles.
Finally! We get to the actual routine. Frankly, I didn’t even think I’d make it.
For this routine, you will be doing all three moves in succession before you take a rest. Now, you don’t have to start with ten reps, but for the sake of bringing this post to a close already, I’m just going to use ten. Just know that, based on your skill level, you can start at any rep amount you like. That said, keep in mind you’ll be working yourself down to 1 rep. Here’s the routine
- 10 Jumping Squats, 10 Pull-ups, 10 Push-ups (I have a tendency of doubling the amount of push ups personally)
- Rest for 15 to 30 seconds, but keep moving. This means walking around or even doing arm swings…or doing arm swings as you walk around. If you drink anything, SIP IT. Don’t gulp.
- 9 Jumping Squats, 9 Pull-ups, 9 Push-ups (Or 18…)
- Rest again for 15 to 30 seconds.
- 8 Jumping Squats, 8 Pull-ups, 8 Push-ups (or 16. Come on…do it)
- Rest and…you get the idea.
- Do this thing over and over again until you get to 1 rep each.
As you can see, this is a pretty basic routine. But don’t you dare think its going to be easy. And if it is, you’re going to easy on yourself. If you started off with 6 reps each, the next time try doing 7. And if you start off with 5 reps each and find out that’s too hard, that’s okay. The next time start at 4. The key is the number you choose to start off with.
Once you finish the routine, walk it off. Or lightly jog. And do some dynamic stretches again as well.
ALSO ALSO ALSO, if at any point you feel sick or dizzy during this routine, you’re done. Do not “power through it.” Same if you feel any unusual pain. If you choose to continue despite these warning signs, I am not responsible when you blow up chunks right on the cutie you’re trying to impress. The same thing goes if you end up waking up the next day in excruciating pain.
That said, I’m off to bed. Just did this routine myself today so, needless to say, I’m exhausted.
Until next time!