Maybe the strongmen of old didn’t have access to weights. I say that as, many of the old fashioned “get fit at home” manuals and pamphlets, put push ups and push up variations at the core of their regimes. Maybe they assumed that their home based clients didn’t have a “bench”.
Not a totally insane assumption.
So, push ups or “dips” as Charles Atlas called them, belong in any home regime. I think they are often overlooked.
Charles Atlas does his “dip”between two chairs in order to get a bigger range of motion. according to his pamphlet its great for “Chest, Shoulders and Back. Excellent for preventing Lung and Chest troubles. Do the dipping exercise at least 100 times every day. Aim to do it 200 times daily if you are keen on getting a very big and powerful chest development. Do this by dipping 25 or more times, rest and relax a few moments and do them again. Rest and do them again.” Charles Atlas said he did 200 daily.
However, it isn’t as simple as just doing any type of push up. Notice from this video that you are aiming for a planche push up. Your shoulders go forward and your hands end up as near the hips as possible
Of course, this is achievable if you already have push ups. If you don’t work your progressions like mad
There are a lot of very dull, unimaginative push up regimes on the internet. My aim is to get you 100 push ups in, about, 6 weeks.
For the purposes of the first part of this this post, Im going to assume you can do 10 strict push ups in one go. (If you have none, skip further down)
The 1st thing i need you to do is to do a test, one today, one tomorrow. today I want you to attempt the most continuous push ups you can. Record it.
Tomorrow, I want you to attempt as many push ups as you can in 2 minutes . You can take as many breaks as you like, you can do lots of singles. Does not matter. Just do as many as you can in 2 minutes.
This gives you an interesting base line to begin with.
For now, you have two alternating protocols to follow
1) Without being too prescriptive, I need you to get to 10 sets of 10 push ups, with no more than 90 seconds rest. At this stage, this means, shooting for 10 reps, then resting for 90 seconds, so the reps could look like this.
10, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 4, 6, 8.
2) 3 sets of maximum push ups. go down and do as many push ups as you can, rest 2 minutes, then do it again 2 more times.
So, do 1 on day 1, 2 on day 2, then a rest day. then 1 and 2 again.
That should get you started for now.
BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO PUSH UPS. Ive seen lots of people with no push ups struggling on “box” and knee versions. Whilst they are interesting if you are really really weak, i have never seen anyone successfully get a full push up by using these shortened versions. The 2 best techniques to use are the eccentric phase and Isometrics. Put simply, get into the top of a push up, and lower yourself down as slowly as you can. Do this 4 or 5 times with 60 seconds rest ( more if you need it.). Then while lying on the floor, try and push yourself up. Put as much effort in as you can, and push for 7 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and go again. ( say 4 times). You may not move, but you are building the specific strength to do so.
Success is quite a difficult concept. It’s incredibly personal but whether you measure success by wealth, quality of service, or your relationships with other people, it seems that the ability to stick at a task is crucial. Some people call this grit. In assessing the success or failure of West Point graduates, researches identified “grit” as one of the required characteristics. Grit is about having what some researchers call an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that orders and structures almost everything you do. Grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.
I suppose an issue with this is you can be gritty in the pursuit of a goal or an idea, but be a lazy total toss pot in other areas.
Angela Duckworth is acknowledged as a leading grit researcher
In the old days, drug companies used to test their new fanged expensive products against a PLACEBO.
According to wikipedia A placebo “is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect or placebo response. The placebo effect consists of several different effects woven together, and the methods of placebo administration may be as important as the administration itself”.
These days its often not. I think the drug companies got miffed that their new fangled ( very expensive drug) only got 1 or 2 % better results than a sugar pill.
Very annoying if your corporate mission is to screw cash out of our NHS.
The reality is that getting our body to believe it can be cured has remarkable effects. Let’s face it, often the body cures itself, with no outside help from the drug companies what so ever.
Often “cures” like Reiki, magnets, supplements are raved about on social media.
Clearly, these things have no physical effect (as yet, discoverable). Adding less than .001% extra glucosamine to the bodies natural store of glucosamine really wont cure your shoulder issues. A deluded fanatic holding their hands 2 inches from your shoulder thinking happy thoughts wont apply any physical effect to fix your shoulder
But clearly, things like this actually work. Amulets don’t stop bullets, but give one to a boy soldier (add a few tokes of a good spliff and a motivational speech:obviously) and they will charge people firing machine guns at them.
People believe the weirdest things.
That placeboes work is beyond doubt. They often work well as pain relief, because often , after 2 or 3 weeks, pain is no longer an indication of the state of the tissue. Its simply an alarm bell that continues to ring because we don’t know how to switch it off. Ever heard of the guy whose amputated leg still hurts????
People in pain, often feel no pain after placebo “treatment”
Anything that rallies your subconscious into believing that a wrist band, or blue socks, or vitamin C, or an evangelical prayer will cure cancer, or improve performance ,is probably worth trying out as long as its only £10 (ish) or less.
I guarantee you that somewhere, someone, has been cured by a wrist band, or blue socks, or vitamin C, or an evangelical prayer. Ive cured people like this myself !
I have one plea.
If you respond to placeboes, try and find a cheap one to respond to.
Believe that drinking a glass of tap water cures pain, or that touching trees gives you healing powers. Believe that by simply adding your ailment to the comments below, our online community will send out universal love and fix it .
Try not to believe that a racoon paw improves virility , or that a Panda’s big toe cures aids. The animals concerned are rather fond of the bit remaining on their body just as it is. Thank you
That said, sometimes the most effective placebo is you spending lots of money and getting lots of attention!
Ce la vie
Ofcourse this is nothing but a shoddy advertorial for me as a personal trainer …………..but dont you feel better already
You are a self fulfilling prophecy! Your early teachers, the trainers you have met, the sports you have tried and failed at have pretty much taught you that you are weak, uncoordinated and basically crap. So, when you look at the WODs we publish on the Crossfit London UK site, you must to be thinking: “you have to be joking! I cant do that!”
How you account for failure and success and the feelings these evoke is the subject of attributions; the perceived causes of events and behaviours. Theories about attributions focus on your perceptions and interpretations that affect your behaviour.
The attributions we make about ourselves and others affect our behaviour.
If you cannot snatch (an olympic lift) you would behave differently depending on why you think you cannot. Perhaps you don’t know how, or need more practice; in which case you may attend a Crossfit London UK skill seminar. However if you think its because you are weak and too uncoordinated to learn, you could simply give up and go back to a leg extension machine in your local fitness centre. The attributions you make about others also effects how you feel about them. If you watch a classmate attempt a snatch , how you perceive their attempt will be different if you think they lack the strength or that they are lazy!
Weiner et al (1974) has been credited with bringing attribution theory to prominence by developing an attributional theory of achievement behaviour. He specifically felt that the difference between high and low achievers is the difference in attributional patterns (or how you think about stuff)
According to Weiner, if you had to assess why you screwed up a workout, or came last in the Crossfit games, your explanations could fall into one of 4 categories: ability, effort, luck, task difficulty.
However these four categories are not the critical aspect, the locus of causality (where the “blame” lies) and stability are the two essential dimensions.
The locus of causality can either be internal or external, ie ability and effort are internal, luck and task difficulty are external. Are these stable? Your ability is stable, however your effort is unstable and can vary from workout to workout: luck, unstable.
Later Weiner added a third dimension; controllability. Some factors are internal, but not very controllable, ie aptitude and natural ability.
Often people make internal attributions for winning and external ones for failure. In team sports, external attributions normally seem to come from the loosing side (lucky breaks, officials’ calls, weather). The tendency to attribute success internally and failure externally can be seen as setting up a self serving bias. If you complete a workout faster than class mate, you would prefer to think that your extra effort won the day, not that your rival was ill that day.
Weiner suggests that the internal/external dimension can correlate to feelings of pride and shame, with the internal attributions provoking stronger feelings: you take a greater pride in a victory you earned!
The stability of these factors also has an effect: a stable attribution leads you to expect the same outcome: if you have failed in the snatch because you its too complicated for you, you can expect the same results in the future. The controllability of the factor effects our moral judgements: we praise those who give extra effort and dislike those who shirk.
However, the results of studies are confusing. Some have identified winners as internal stable and controllable, others that winners make more stable and controllable, but not more internal, attributions.
Spink and Roberts (1980) showed winners made more internal attributions, more importantly they actually found two types of winners satisfied, and dissatisfied winners who felt the victory was too easy. Satisfied losers attributed losses to task difficulty, dissatisfied losers looked to their own low ability. Essentially, McAuley(1985) found perceived success to be a better predictor of internal stable controllable atttributions than objective success.
Attributions and Emotions.
It is quite popular to link attributions and emotions. Weiner identified outcome-dependent emotions (associated with actual outcomes) and attribution-dependent emotions (the reason for the outcomes)
Work by Biddle ( 1993) indicated performance satisfaction (or subjective appraisal) is one of the best predictors of emotion, and that attributions play a role.
Dweck (1978) deploys attributional theory in the field of learned helplessness. We all come across those individuals ( do you think this of yourself) who “know” they are slow, uncoordinated and too un-athletic to take part in sports or get fit ( or Crossfit) Here we can help by making these people attribute their failings to unstable, controllable factors including a lack of practice, instruction and techniques.
In reality, at Crossfit London, we find that many people who have been dismissed as weaklings, or overweight, uncoordinated failures can often make substantial improvements in performance and fitness. Our focus is to get you to work on those things you can control, and make stable; we do our best to get you to forget the vicious labels that incompetent sports teachers and trainers may have lazily given you. Our teaching is made progressive so that we can take beginners and make them skilled performers. Our approach will get the best out of your efforts and enhance your feelings of personal control.
This is a handy ” how to increase the weight you should use” tip. Its the biggest draw back of exercise regimes that they forget to increase the stress of the exercise. Once you are used to it, the exercise is no longer an exercise, its just an activity.
The body needs to be challenged so you often need to vary exercise type, angles, type of kit used, but also, often, the weight used.
One of the easiest way to increase he effectiveness is to increase the weight used. thats ok, but when do you ” up the weight”.
If I’m building some muscle mass for my clients, I suggest this:
Find the weight you can do 12 reps with. Once you hit 12 reps, up the weight. Aim to find a weight you can get to 8 reps with. Over the next few sessions, build up to 12 reps again (using the same weight) then, once you hit 12 reps, up the weight. Expect to get to 8 reps again., build to 12 reps, and so on.
To be clear I have clients starting out with a bicep curl: we find what they can do 12 with say 6kg. So we now increase to 7kg, If they can do 12 reps, we up it again, but maybe, for example , going to 8kg becomes hard. Maybe they can only do 8kg for 8 reps . Great.The task is now to increase the reps from 8 to 12. once they hit 12 reps, up the weight again again?
As part of the management team of a CrossFit facility in the UK, I always struggled to understand how anyone could break the front stand of a concept 2.
However, I have now discovered a very clever way of incurring hundreds of extra pounds worth of repair bills and putting your concept 2 rowers out of service for days, sometimes weeks on end.
Here is how
To break* your concept 2 , put your foot on the front foot and hold it down. If you are fussy about where you put your foot, try heavy sandbags, or maybe even weights.
This will really screw it up.
I sent the above picture to Concept 2 to be sure.
Here is their response
“Hello, in short the legs are meant to be moved freely, by putting bags on, standing on etc… you’re putting excess pressure on bolts/joints, allowing the machine to move slightly is okay. If the machine is moving a lot it is likely technique that needs improving. Rolling them around constantly or storing on end can also do a lot of wear and tear.”
Consider yourself told.
*This was not my 1st choice of words
My name is Andrew Stemler and I’m probably the East London personal trainer you have been looking for. Email me Andrew@crossfitlondon uk.com
Once you have a few pull ups, its ‘easy’ to keep adding to them. The real hard one is getting that 1st pull up. I’ve struggled for 3 months to post a genuine article about getting your first pull up. This is my first public draft.
I hope it helps.
If you have no pull ups, here are some essential things you must do:
Get a pull up bar at home. I’d say this won’t guarantee success, but not having one at home will guarantee failure. Do not rely on getting to the gym, or to us for that matter. Also it’s a private matter between you and the bar: basically you have bar “issues” and sometimes its best to deal with “issues” in private. This pull up bar is often recommended JML Iron Total Gym Upper Body Workout Bar
Understand that a pull up is not a rubbishy exercise like all those silly piltates wiggles and squirms that you do. Pull-ups are a predictive happiness test. If you have no pulls ups (and this is especially true of ladies) no-one of quality will want to marry you. If you refuse to get that first pull up, stop reading this and go and get some cats. That’s all you will be good for.
. Look honestly at your weight. Pull-ups will be harder to get if you are over-weight. That does not mean you wait until you are the “right weight”. Get going now. It will be harder, but as I often say: “you ate it, now hump it”.
(If you are overweight don’t set yourself the task of losing a few pounds before you do anything; start living your life now. If you are overweight, and are miserable because you are lonely and boyfriendless/ girlfriendless/ loverless, put your details up on the raunchiest BBW site that your morality can stand, and hold on to your hat! Big girls and boys are always in demand. You can only lose weight if you are happy. Fending off would-be lovers with a stick is a very practical and measurable marker of happiness. Sitting at home feeling fat and ugly, makes you fat and ugly. Sorry, that not really about pull ups is it.)
Let us begin…
Objective 1: can you hang from the bar with your palms facing towards you (for those in the know, this is the ‘chin-up’ grip that’s a bit easier to begin with)?
Objective 2: can you hang a bit longer?
Objective 3: can you hang a bit longer than objective 2? (can you see where this is going?)
To save a lot of time, can you get to hang on your bar for 10 seconds? When you can, shout “woohoo” (loudly so as to annoy your neighbours) and start on working out how to do your first negative.
Your first what?
Well in highly technical terms, right, there’s the pulling up bit (right?) and then there’s the lowering bit.
At the moment you are not strong enough to do the pulling up bit, like, but if you were kind of already up there, maybe you could, er, lower yourself down a bit?
Does sort of rather beg the question of “how do i get up there?”…
Well here is the Andrew Stemler “Getting it up guide” (apparently this is a good title that always sells):
Jumping. Grab the pull up bar but instead of trying to pull yourself up, jump up so that your chin is above the bar. This can be easier said than done
By standing on something. Just stand on something that is high enough for you to start out in that already-pulled-up position. A bench, a chair, whatever. Anything you can use as a mini-ladder would be perfect. Perhaps even a mini-ladder?
Stand on something “version 2”. Grab the bar and make your loser boy- or girlfriend (perhaps the one you got from the BBW site) grab your ass and push you up
Now, once you’re in that top position, you’re ready to do the negative part of the pull-up. So, lower yourself down as slow and controlled as you possibly can. Focus on keeping really tight. I don’t mean “refuse to lend people money or get drunk”, I mean “have lots of tension in your body”. Squeeze (your own) bottom together. Brace your abs, squeeze your legs together.
Your first lower (we will call it negatives from now on) will either be agonisingly slow and hurt like hell, or you will fall straight through as you discover you have no strength at all.
Once you have lowered yourself, pop off the bar and reflect. Negatives are very taxing. You need rest between each one and you should never do more than 6 to 8 in a session.
So here is you beginner “CHIN-UPS FOR HAPPINESS” programme
Day 1: neg, neg, neg, neg, neg ( 120 secs rest between each negative)
Rest a day ( drink, eat cake, take all sorts of drugs. Smoking is especially good for you these days as it gets you out in the fresh air
Day 2: neg, neg, neg, neg, neg (90secs rest between each negative) It’s the same but with less rest!
Rest a day (put your own joke in!)
Day 3: neg, neg, neg, neg, neg (120 secs between each negative)
Rest one day
Day 4: The next workout needs you to get that loser boyfriend/girlfriend again. Basically they are going to try and help you pull yourself up and down. They get behind you, grab you…somewhere….(experiment) then they assist you to do….three sets of as many reps as you can with 120 seconds between. So they grab you, and haul you up and down as many times as you can. Could be 1, you could do 2 or 6. The set is over when they cannot push you anymore, not when you feel like it. You will want to stop early as it feels as it you are not doing the work: in fact it’s mainly you.
Rest 120 seconds. Do it again 2 more times.
It’s my way of getting your body to see what the actual task is. No, a lat pull down machine is not a good substitution.
But, what if you cannot get anyone to help you? Well thats beyond this article: but ideas could be to go next door and bug your neighbour, call up your ex-wife. Perhaps the guy selling the Big Issue fancies a couple of quid extra. Get creative, and find someone. Join a religious group and offer to host a scripture reading and slip your set in before you start as “movement prayer”
Rest 2 days.
Day 5: neg, neg, neg,neg, neg (90 secs rest)
Rest 2 days.
Now it’s the big test. Get someone to help you do 1-2 easy, supported reps. Rest for 2 minutes. Then do your 1 chin-up (woohoo!) or hang there trying for a full 7 seconds. Then with 120 seconds rest neg, neg, neg.
If you get that pull up come and talk to us about getting more. If not return to the beginning and start again. If you are very weak it could take many passes through to get your first pull up. But this regime works.
Feel free to suggest improvements or funnier/ruder quips to comments.
My Name is Andrew Stemler and I’m a personal trainer in London