While I was traveling in Europe, getting to a gym was impossible. I quickly realized that I’d better come up with a system of exercise that would keep my muscles mass intact.
I needed movements that required no equipment whatsoever, which meant squats, pushups and ab work by the ton.
Those weight-free workouts really woke me up to the potential of pushups for any bodybuilder, at any stage of development. It’s quite simply the best upper-body exercise you can do without equipment, as it works the muscles of the chest, shoulders, triceps and even abs. No other weight-free exercise works the front-torso muscles so thoroughly.
I began using standard pushups, with my hands at shoulder width, elbows out, and repped out five sets of 20. After a week I began to search for some variety, so I started altering my hand spacing from ultranarrow, which will strengthen the triceps, to very wide, which blasts the chest to a whole new realm of development. I also altered my foot spacing from narrow to wide and as a bonus found I hit sections of my abs that I previously hadn’t even known existed.
After a few more weeks I started doing pause pushups, holding each rep at the top for a count of three before lowering myself to the floor. They’re incredibly hard when you reach rep 15 and beyond and much harder than benching, since all the muscles of the abs, thighs and hips have to remain in constant contraction. It’s the total-muscle and joint tension that makes the pushup so hard and effective.
Almost anybody can bang out reps, slamming the torso up and down, but it’s much harder and more effective to do them slowly so you stress all the involved muscles thoroughly. It also reduces the chance of injury.
You should try superbreathing so the exercise becomes a whole-body affair. By superbreathing I mean forcing each inhalation and exhalation’inhaling on the way down and exhaling on the way up and exaggerating the breathing process. You won’t believe the gains you can achieve in size and strength. Even if you’re not on vacation, try pushups as part of your regular upper-body workout and reap the mass-building benefits. IM
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