The Art of the Push Up

Finding an exercise that can be done just as well in the gym as it can be done at home is not easy. Whether it is due to the equipment not being the same quality, the space being to small or just the not vibe in the room, working out at home can be difficult. I happened to come across a great article from BodyBuilding.com (link will be posted at the bottom) about push ups. Was shocked to see an article about something so basic that I was forced to do in gym class back in elementary school but figured it worth the read.

how-and-why-to-do-push-ups-1The article titled “How (And Why!) To Do Push Ups” shows the benefits of doing the body weight exercise and explains how it helps to benefit the muscles that are not being used during the bench press. To me the part that hit home was when they talked about scapula movement and the benefits in mobility and strength to the area around it. After having two shoulder operations in the past, my shoulders feel fine and are strong but I get a pain behind the shoulder blade which I can seem to sooth. Push ups may not sooth the pain but they at least stimulate the muscle in the shoulder where the pain and discomfort is more tolerable.

Other variations of push up which are not mentioned but also help to make push ups more of an all around upper body exercise is to add an incline or a decline. This works out different muscles in the chest as well as the arms and shoulders and allows for different types of mobility.

In order to do either the incline or decline push up, a weight bench or another solid object that is 3 feet wide and 1 to 1.5 feet high is required.

inclinepushupFor the incline push up place your hands at the comfortable place on top of the bench with your feet on the ground and allow yourself to slowly lower your chest to the bench and than squeeze your chest when your press to raise yourself from the bench.

The decline is similar yet the opposite. The main difference is now your feet are on theimgs-declinepushup-inarticle bench and your hands are on the floor and you want to bring your chest as low to the floor as possible before squeezing your chest together and pushing back up.

I did 3 sets of 15 reps of each type of push up which comes out to 135 total. The fun thing about this is I can always add more reps or more sets as needed but that I can do this exercise at home and still feel as if I had a complete chest workout.

BodyBuilding.com – How (And Why!) To Do Push-Ups

Images from:

Breaking Muscle

Men’s Fitness

BodyBuilding.com

Schooled by the Trainer

I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to working out. I know a few things and I try to learn a few other things, so when the trainer at my gym comes up to me and asks if he can help me out  I appreciate it very much because it is only going o help me.

Personal trainer helping woman at gym

Picture Credit rightfitpersonaltraining.com 

So here I am at the gym, just finished my dead lifting (posted on my Instagram @avgsteve) and my barbell shrugs when I decided to move to the bench. As I am setting up at the bench I notice my wife is on the other side of the gym working with the dumbbells and talking to one of the trainers. I can see that he is pointing out things to her that she should be doing and things that she is doing wrong (probably taught to her from me). After a few minutes she calls me over to talk to the trainer with her and we get into a conversation about bench pressing.

Time for some history on the relationship that I have with this gym and their trainers. I have not met with this guy as a trainer, for the sake of the blog let us call him John, but I have met with another trainer who workers there who we will call Mark. I had originally signed up for 90 minutes of training time which I wanted to break up into two 45 minute sessions. I told them that I wanted to learn power lifting exercises and other stuff using the barbell. That I wanted to make sure that I was using i safely.

Now this isn’t the first time that I have had a trainer, I used to have a very good trainer a few years back but I am no longer at that gym. Immediately I did not feel comfortable with Mark. Something about him told me that he did not know what he was doing or preaching, so I decided to test him. I may not know much about how to dead lift, but I know plenty about how not to dead lift. I did the first two as correctly as I could but then for the last 2 I purposely did them wrong. the first one I hiked the bar (popped it up) to myself and shot my hips up and he said “good good” and last one I curled the bar in (low weight obviously) and lifted from my toes and he said that I did all 4 perfectly. I just remember looking and thinking, really?

This was a pattern that continued throughout the rest of the session at the end of which I told myself that I would not be using the remaining time that I had. He tried to contact me several times about setting up an appointment and I either had plans and couldn’t make it or I just said I wasn’t available. Luckily our times weren’t the most compatible. I just did not feel comfortable working with a guy who could be so blind to the wrong way of doing heavy and unsafe exercising when done wrong. In the weeks to follow I saw him exercising a few times on his own and he just looked clueless taking care of himself so I did not want him to work with me.

Back to the current day where I am talking to Greg and he is pointing stuff out to me that is actually helpful. He is showing me what I am doing wrong and even when I try to throw something in to test him, he is catching it. This is what I want in a trainer. Someone who actually knows and makes you feel comfortable with their knowledge. He helped me with my shoulder placement when bench pressing as well as was helping my wife with her shoulder placement when she is dumbbell benching. He spent a good 25-30 minutes with us and I was happy to the point where I want to use that remaining 45 minutes that I paid for but only if he could be the trainer assigned to me.

Nobody likes to be told that they are doing something wrong, especially when they have been doing it that way for a while, but when the right person comes around and points out to you what you are doing wrong and how to fix and is taking the time out of their day to do so, I can only appreciate them for it. I may have to lower my weight to start doing things the right way but if it means that I will be safer when lifting more weight and get the actual gains that I am looking for than it is worth it. Just like how I went back to benching 135 when I was up to 220 so that I can put more time and effort into learning proper form to make sure that I am being as safe as possible.

Cheers!

When to Add NEW Exercises to Your Workout!

Weight-Training-Crushes-Cardio-For-Fat-LossThis is a topic that I come back to a lot because there are so many different ways for me to look at it. Am I adding new exercises because I want to learn new ones? Are certain exercises causing unwanted pain and being replaced with others that are more comfortable? Is there a medical reason? These are just a few of the reasons to add new exercises to a workout.

My obsession with the gym has only started in mid October (7 months) and during that time I have learned a lot. I started off with just a handful of random exercises to having a 15 exercise workout everyday, which is too much for me, or at least was at that point. Thanks to a few friends and the BodySpace app by BodyBuilding.com (not a plug but still showing support) I was able to learn more exercises to work out various muscle groups in my body. While learning more exercises I was able to teach myself various other exercises to work out the same muscles which I could use to either extend my workout or to offer variety to the exercises that way they didn’t become boring.

Several months after starting my gym obsession I came down with a nice case of either tennis or golfer’s elbow and had to back off on some of my workouts. My legs loved/hated me during the time period. I lowered the weight on exercises that didn’t cause me as much pain and I avoided the ones that hurt. It sucked because the ones that hurt the most were the ones I loved the most. I should mention that it was my fault I got the elbow injury because I was doing the same 15 upper body exercises everyday, 5-7 days a week (with 1 day for legs mixed in).

This injury was a blessing and curse. It forced me to separate my workout and to learn more exercises. Some of these new exercises have replaced ones that I was doing prior to my injury and some of them I ditched once I was feeling better. The curse from this is that I haven’t been able to kick the full extend of the injury and it keeps coming back. Currently I am avoiding doing any exercises where my arms are tended and supporting all of the weight at the hinge of my elbow, curls are a prime example. This is allowing me to find new exercises using machines or different ways to lift where my elbows are getting more support from the rest of my body. Knowledge is power!

Now some exercises are just uncomfortable to do. Seated leg curls are a good example for me as I could never find a comfortable position on the machine and it caused a pain what I did not need to have knowing that I probably wasn’t in the best position to use the machine. I was able to replace this with squats and other leg exercises which allow me to take this machine out of my workout entirely.

I have also recently replaced concentration curls with preacher curls and a few other bicep machines which have helped. Concentration curls were fine but for some reason when I put the weight down at the end it caused a sharp pain to my right shoulder. Since I dropped the concentration curls I have not felt this pain.

There are more reasons than what I have listed to change an exercise in your workout but these are the few reasons that I have run into and so far I have yet to look back.

If you have any more reasons to add, feel free to comment them below!

Cheers!

 

 

Wrist Wraps?

image

I get a lot of people coming up to me and asking what I have wrapped around my wrists and why. It isn’t a big deal but it is amusing that people need to ask what wrist wraps are and their purpose. After explaining what they are and why I wear them they stare at me as if I have 3 heads.

I wear them for the wrist support. They help keep me in line so I don’t hurt myself and give me the extra mental security to give my all in my lift without worry. “but why don’t you just wear gloves with the velcro strap?” because I like to feel my weights.  When you can feel the weights it feels like more of an earned achievement of lifting them. I want to to feel like I earned my rest afterwards.

In the long run you need to do what you feel the most comfortable with. If sleeves irritate you when lifting than don’t wear sleeves. If your wrists bother you than wear wraps. I prefer the ones with the thumb loops because they help keep the wrap in place.

Pain but Not Painful

moving-septic-systemIt seems like I am always having elbow issues and this time it came from playing with a vicious 9 pound dog belonging to my mother in-law. I smacked my elbow into the couch and where it doesn’t hurt me 99% of the time and it doesn’t prevent me from doing anything or make me feel weaker, it hurts like hell when something pulls my skin.

For example if I am resting my elbow on the couch arm, it doesn’t hurt! But if I slide my elbow forward along the couch I am in extreme pain to the point where I am flailing. Not sure if it is possible nerve damage? Maybe I did some bone damage? I don’t feel anything out of place or different when I feel around but who knows.

The important thing for me is that it hasn’t stopped me from doing what I need to do in life and at the gym. I have been doing my workouts at full strength and even raising my PRs as I do it! Luckily for me it also hasn’t prevented me from packing up my apartment as I am moving in a few days!

Looking forward to the move, and I will be posting updates, especially as I build my home gym! Granted it won’t be much more than I can find for cheap on Craigslist, but it will be great to have a place to go when I can’t get to place!

Cheers!

Hitting a Snag

Seems like a lot of times when I start to gain momentum I end up hitting a snag one way or another. I can understand every now and again but it get tiring when it happens so often. At least this time it wasn’t caused by the weights.

I was rough housing with a vicious dog, I mean vicious, growling, teeth baring, slobbering 9 pounds of fury. I was pouncing with the dog in my in-lawdemons living room when I guess my left arm flung backwards and crashed into the couch. It hurt a lot at first, almost like I smashed into an object (which I did) and was electrocuted at the same time. After the initial pain went away it felt better and I thought I was through it, no big deal. Now when I put my elbow down or extend awkwardly I feel an instant severe stinging to the same place each time. It makes arm rest hellish.

On top of this, I have been getting dizzying headaches the last few days. I tried to power through one over the weekend and was unable to. Was planning on going to the gym today but once again got another headache and didn’t even want to start.

If anyone has any suggestions, please share! Headaches are not fun!