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They’re not a traditional “cardio” exercise… they’re not sexy or new… in fact, they may seem a little old fashioned, like an old-timey “callisthenic” they used to do at gymnasiums in the 1960s.
But if you want an intense upper-body workout that gives you real world strength using only your body weight, it’s hard to beat the humble variation of the simple “plank” position — the pushup.
You can use pushups to build upper body strength quickly and you only need a few minutes to do them.
Plus, there’s not set number you need to do. Just do whatever gives you a workout that challenges your current level of fitness and strength so that you grow stronger and fitter.
Also, the good news is there are almost endless variations on the pushup so that you will never get into a rut or stagnate. You can do incline pushups, decline pushups, one-armed pushups if you’re really strong.
Another variation is one that P90X founder Tony Horton likes to do. It’s the “spinning” pushup. The way he does it is very advanced and takes a great deal of strength. He gets into a plank or traditional pushup position and “leaps” into the air almost like a frog, while propelling himself so that he spins sideways and comes down in the plank position again, a bit like the hands of a clock going around the face.
No one is suggesting you need to do this, but we can learn from his extreme version and get similar benefit and still get a superior chest, arm, leg and core workout.
Pushup variation for the part-time health nut
Here’s what I like to call the part-time health nut variation. It’s less intense… just about anyone can do it this way… and you’ll see the benefits:
- Start in the plank position
- Do a pushup and then walk your hands and feet say, 30 degrees to the right or left
- Do another pushup and continue until you’ve come full circle
- Reverse the circle and there’s one set
- When you get stronger, you can “hop” with your arms to the right or left instead of walking them
Remember to go at your own speed. You don’t have to do as many pushups as you can every set. You can do a pushup and hold the position, working your back, stomach and legs and you get much the same benefit.
Do them every other day, making sure you warm up with arm and shoulder movements first, and stretching the shoulders afterwards to maintain your flexibility as you gain useful power and fitness that you can really use.
Editor’s note: Dr. Michael Cutler has developed a radical strategy to help you attain your best health ever — without extreme diets, dangerous pills or brutal workouts! To find out more about his part-time health nut plan, click here!