Build Powerful Upper Body and Core Strength
The "Push-up Push Workout" article caused quite a stir with many people emailing me their progress in a two-week period. Many people saw 25-50% increases in their pushups scores going from 50 to 75 pushups in many cases. One female Army ROTC cadet increased her pushups from minimum standards of 20 to 40 in a two-week period. Now with a foundation of successful pushups, to maintain and increase pushups reps from here is weekly commitment of a regular PT program.
But there were a few who emailed me back with little or no progress and we discovered that the hand positioning was incorrect. The common error in pushups is to place the hands too high when in the down position making it near impossible to lift yourself off the floor when performing a pushup. The most effective position for your hands in the down position of a pushup is just outside your shoulders and chest high. If you can look to your left and right when on the floor and see your hands even with your face, your hands are in the wrong position.
To take this proper pushup form training to the next level, I thought of developing a pushup mat with painted hand placement for the variety of pushups in my workouts demonstrating the proper placement of your hands. In my research, I found something that not only helps with hand placement for pushups, but actually has the ability to aid in strength building.
Very rarely do I recommend a piece of fitness equipment, since many of my workouts are calisthenics based and require only a pull-up bar from a playground. In fact, this is only the second piece of equipment I have liked other than standard weight equipment in a gym. But I was intrigued with The Strength Builder because it helped me with two major issues:
- Hand placement for a variety of pushups
- Builds strength like pushup bars can do, but safer since the Strength Builder is a stationary product as pictured below:
Since the Strength Builder is slightly lifted off the floor, it enables you to receive a better stretch and upper body flex while performing a pushup. This movement taxes the chest and shoulders more than the regular pushup, making the pushup test easier when pushing in a two minute period.
We tested The Strength Builder with a group of three SEAL candidates and myself. Here is the workout we did:
The Standard PT Pyramid is a foundation workout that when performed from 1 to 10 back to 1 gives you - 100 Pullups, 200 pushups, 200 dips, 500 situps or crunches.
We did the following:
- Set 1 - 1 pullup, 2 pushups, 2 dips, 5 situps - Set 2 - 2 pullups, 4 pushups, 4 dips, 10 situps...
Keep going up the pyramid to set ten.
- Set 10 - 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 20 dips, 50 situps
Then repeat in reverse order back Set 1.
I found that each set we were able to place the pushup bars in different holes on the Strength Builder and do full range of motion pushups. This tired the group out faster than the normal pushup and we all could feel the workout the following day due to the added stretch involved in the structure of the Strength Builder.
Best of all, the Strength Builder Website gives a significant military discount when shipping to any FPO/APO address. Good luck with your PT workouts.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.