If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always got
While I’m not a proponent of implementing variety just for the sake of variety into a training regimen, adding variation to timeless exercises forces further adaptation to a stimulus to which the body has otherwise grown stale. Perhaps the most classic example of an exercise in desperate need of revitalization for many athletes and fitness enthusiasts is the pushup. While there are many silly ways to make a pushup appear sexier, the options discussed below focus on training and not entertaining. None of the following variations exist in a vacuum and your desired training effect should always dictate exercise selection.
1. Add Load
A) Increase Resistance
For whatever unfortunate reason, people pride themselves on an ability to handle a large volume (number of reps) while often dismissing the value of increasing intensity by adding weight to their pushup. Throw on a vest or have a training partner place a couple of plates on your back next time pushups appear in your program – That shock you feel is the awakening of type II (strong, explosive) muscle fibers, something likely missing from your overused body weight routine. Ironically, your new found strength will increase your ability to handle higher reps too.
B) Implement Accommodating Resistance
Best popularized by Louie Simmons and his famous Westside Barbell gym, the concept of accommodating resistance loads an exercise in a way that corresponds with the strength curve, with less resistance applied during the range of motion where the athlete is weakest and more where he or she is strongest. Chains and bands are two excellent means of implementing accommodating resistance during a pushup. Both more aggressively load the lockout than they do the less advantaged bottom portion of the movement.
Check back in for future posts where I discuss four more options for revitalizing this classic training staple.