Tag Archives: fitness

One Handed Pushups and HIIT – A faster and more effective workout

Some time ago, I combined the pull up challenge and the push up challenge to create an exhausting full body workout. I got some great results, and was happy to be able to do 22 continuous good form pull ups. The only problem was that after three months, my body had adapted to the exercises and I was no longer seeing progress. Also, the idea of making tennis part of my “work out” meant it became more of a chore than something I enjoyed. I started dragging my feet getting to the gym because I had hit a plateau and the workout had got boring.

Naked WarriorA few days ago I read a book called the The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline. The book has the tag line – “Master the Secrets of The Super-Strong Using Body weight Exercises Only”. Pavel has a few ideas in his book that I found extremely interesting.

The first idea was that it is better to do a couple of reps short of failure and just train the body to get used to the new movement. Once the body gets used to the new motion, the ability to do reps increase without needing to reach muscle failure. The reason I agree with this principle is because this was how I learned to do my first pull up, and of course how the push up and pull up challenges work.

The other idea I found interesting was that we only need two body weight exercises to get a complete full body workout – the one-arm push up and the one-leg squat.

I decided that the one-arm push ups sounded like fun and re-started the hundred push up challenge using one handed push ups. The first day I completed the exercise I realized something important. The one arm push up is not just an arm exercise. It tightens every muscle from the arm and shoulder, going diagonally across the back to the opposite leg. It will also engage your core to maintain balance and keep straight.

I discovered how much it engaged my back muscles when I was bed-ridden the next two days. Word of advice – If you plan to do regular push ups, pull ups and then one armed push ups in the same day, it might be a good idea to have a quick back stretch routine between each set of exercises (at least until you get used to it). I learned the hard way that I had been neglecting my lower back in my previous workout. However my back is a lot stronger now.

Apart from one armed push ups, I also restarted both push up and pull up challenges. This time, the push ups are much slower, 4 second, perfect form push ups. The pull ups are also slow, with my arms as far apart as possible. Both are significantly harder, which is why I had to start both of them from week one.

The last modification was to change the cardio segment of the workout to HIIT running. The treadmill at our gym has a setting for interval training, and you can select both the time and the maximum speed. I was amazed at how exhausting a 20 minute run with a high upper interval can be. The first day was brutal. After one week, I was able to do it easily, at which point I increased the max speed by one and it became exhausting all over again.

So this is my new modified workout for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

1. 100 Push-up challenge: Slow, perfect form, 4 second push ups
2. 20 Pull-up challenge: Slow, perfect form pull-ups with arms as wide apart as possible
3. 100 Push-up challenge with one armed push-ups: Currently on an inclined bar. Will change to doing it on the ground once I complete the challenge on an incline
4. 20 Minute HIIT running: Am pushing the upper limit up by 1 every week which makes it very difficult for my body to adapt.

Now that the tennis is out of my workout routine, I only play tennis when I feel like playing so I can enjoy it. And since the workout is stretching my limits again, it has become fun too.

The next fitness challenge – Twenty continuous pull-ups

After the hundred push-up challenge and then going from 0 to 5 pull-ups, my next goal is the Twenty pull-ups challenge.

Why pull-ups? They develop the arms, shoulders and back and help create that V shaped body that everyone likes. I prefer workouts that use body weight and exercise multiple muscle groups instead of isolating single areas using weights. Like push-ups, pull-ups are also easy to do with minimum equipment. After my initial success with cross-fit and pull-ups, I knew I had to incorporate pull-ups into my routine.

The twenty pull-ups site follows a similar layout to the hundred push-ups site. It has a customizable, progressive plan that takes you from 1-2 pull-ups to being able to do 20 continuous pull-ups within 6 weeks. For those of you who can barely do one pull-up, the site even includes two additional training weeks that have you trying half pull-ups.

Most people won’t have as much of a challenge getting through the first five pull-ups as I did, but if you do, reading about my initial pull-up journey may help. Personally I found it more useful to do assisted pull-ups with weights when starting out with my first few pull-ups. I could barely do even one pull-up when I started out.

For people who would like to be able to do pull-ups at home, I’d recommend buying a good pull up bar like the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar. It is very easy to assemble, attach and remove from a doorway. Having something like this at home means you can do a quick pull-up anytime you want instead of having to plan and schedule a workout at the gym.

I am on week 3 of the pull-up challenge right now, and did 26 pull-ups in five sets yesterday. My workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays has now become doing 150+ push-ups for the push-up challenge, about 20+ pull-ups for the pull-up challenge and then finally running on the treadmill for a couple of miles. I still can’t believe I am able do all of this. 6 months ago, I could barely do 1 pull-up, and even the prospect of starting the hundred push-up challenge was scary.

Its amazing how easily stuff seems to happen once you decide to just get started by taking small incremental steps to achieve big goals.

UPDATE: I enjoyed the final week of both the push-ups and pull-ups challenge so much that I incorporated them into my daily workout routine. It is a reasonably hard-core workout that is focussed towards getting fast results while being sustainable and is an ideal way to get toned and in shape without needing too much gym equipment.

UPDATE 2: I successfully completed the twenty pull-up challenge by doing 21 continuous pull-ups today. I will continue to keep Week 6 of the pull-up challenge in my weekly workout

One Hundred Push ups? – A step by step plan to achieve extraordinary results

I recently discovered the website www.hundredpushups.com. The site provides a simple, progressive, training program to get any person doing one hundred consecutive push ups within just six weeks.

For people who don’t have too much upper body strength and would like to start working on it, give this routine a shot. The next 6 weeks will change you.

It doesn’t matter whether you are at “I can barely do two push ups…” or “I can already do thirty…”, the program works for everyone.

The program starts off with an initial test to establish where you are right now. Based on your initial level, you then follow a customized workout program that is only three days a week for a total of six weeks.

So people who can’t yet do pushups will have small goals like finishing a single pushup and taking a break. You have no excuse for not trying!!! This workout is for anyone who wants to get stronger arms.

The program slowly but steadily increases the target over the next few weeks, so you hardly ever notice the change. The workout always seems slightly hard but never too hard.

I am currently on Week 3, and did 90 push ups today (in small sets of about 15 push ups each with one minute breaks in between). It wasn’t too hard. Hopefully I will be at 100 continuous push ups by Week 6.

I personally found the information on the website more than enough to get started. However, for those who need it, the site owner has published a book called 7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups. The book has detailed workout plans and effective warm-up exercises and stretches to safely complete the program.

The reason I love this workout is it that it takes only a few minutes a day to complete, and ramps up in gradual, easily manageable steps, which fits in with the Kaizen Principle for achieving massive change effortlessly

Also, push ups are something I can do anywhere (without needing a gym) and anytime I have a few minutes.

Besides, the idea of being able to do hundred push ups is just plain cool!!

Update: Since I wrote this article, I completed the entire workout. During the final test, I was able to complete 88 continuous push ups. It wasn’t the hundred I would have liked to reach, but it is an accomplishment I can be pretty happy about; Especially considering the fact that I could do around 30 before I attempted the challenge. Maybe someday, once I strengthen my lower back a little more, I can shoot for the full hundred. Since then I have moved on to much more challenging workouts including one handed pushups and the twenty pull-ups challenge. Once you finish the hundred pushup challenge, maybe you can give these a try.