Spice up your pushups

Pushups have been featured in this column previously, however, this week a little “spice” will be added to one of the best upper body and inner core unit exercises on the planet. The “spice” will be various planks and bridges integrated into pushup sequences. Add some tempo changes, stir in the right amount of positional modifications to increase intensity and apply movement to the traditional plank/bridges and you have an ideal blend of body weight training. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Spicey Pushup Set-Up — Perform a five-ten minute warm-up elevating your RPE’s to a 1-2 which is very light to light exertion prior to attempting any of the pushup series.; As you assume the pushup position, remember that the head/neck are a natural extension of the spine, the shoulders are rotated back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine and the pelvic floor pulled upward/inward; Choose one of the pushup variations and perform 1-3 sets as directed, two-three times/week, on non-consecutive days. After a couple of weeks mastering one variation, progress to the next; To decrease intensity, perform modified planks/pushups (i.e. knees-down, from the wall/stable elevated surface); To increase intensity, perform the pushups with ankles crossed, decline or from a TRX* where appropriate.

Plank/Pushup Combo* — Kneel down to the floor on hands/knees, arms extended, placing the wrists directly underneath the shoulder joints, long spine, tucking the toes underneath, then lift the knees off the floor and assume a full plank position (may be performed from elbows); Hold this position, contracting the glutes with the legs/feet together, for 30 seconds; Lower the knees to the floor, recover for 15 seconds, then perform full or modified pushups for 30 seconds. Two counts down/two counts up.

Mountain Climber/Pushup Combo — Begin as indicated above, in the plank position. Perform four knees-in/across torso mountain climbers and immediately perform one slow two-count down/up pushup. Repeat for 30 seconds. Recover for 15 seconds and repeat again. **Note: if you are performing knees-down modified pushups or from a wall or barre, perform 30-seconds of mountain climbers as directed, recover and then 30 seconds of pushups from your chosen position.

Walking Plank/Pushup Combo* — Begin in a full plank position. Move the right leg out to the side (abduct from the hip joint), maintaining the plank position (i.e. do not permit the hips to rise as you abduct the leg), “walk” the left hand toward the right, then walk the left leg toward the right and the right arm to the right/reverse walking process left; Perform this sequence for 30 seconds, recover for 15 seconds and perform either modified, full or decline pushups for 30 seconds.

Side Bridge/Pushup Combo — Begin in a full plank position. Move the right hand inward, centering under the chest, still supporting body weight; Pivot on the balls of the feet, turning the body to the left so that you are now facing the left side of the room. Extend your left arm so that your fingertips face the ceiling, palm faces left side of the room. Hold this position for 15 seconds, carefully switch sides and repeat facing right for 15 seconds; No recovery: perform a single/single/double tempo series of pushups for 30 seconds (i.e. think quick/quick/slow).

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