If you feel standard Push-Ups are too easy, perhaps it’s time for some variation. Hindu Push-Ups are a fantastic option for athletes of all ability levels to obtain the muscular pectorals that are necessary for strength, power and effective posture, movement and stability—all things athletes should be concerned with.
Hindu Push-Ups can be superior to Bench Presses for a few reasons:
By being able to manipulate the position of your body, you can create more tension in your chest, a key component for building muscle.
Bodyweight exercises are excellent for improving the mind-muscle connection, so you can create greater tension within the target muscle.
Because no external weight is involved, most athletes aren’t tempted to do more than they are capable of just to appear stronger or to stroke their ego.
The best way to include Hindu Push-Ups in your programming is to use them as an assistance exercise. Assistance exercises can be used for injury prevention and/or muscle hypertrophy, making them more suited to moderate to high reps (6-12-plus).
Although you can manipulate your body to make this movement more difficult, it isn’t a great option for maximal strength development. Instead, you should perform Hindu Push-Ups after you’ve done a maximal strength-focused movement like the Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press.
To start, perform 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions after you finish your maximal strength exercises for the day. For example, start your workout with Barbell Bench Press for 3 sets of 3 reps. After you finish all sets and reps of the Bench Press, do Hindu Push-Ups for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Programming Push-Ups as a finisher (the last sets of the training session) also works extremely well on upper- and full-body days.
How to Perform Hindu Push-Ups
1) Assume a push-up position with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your core tight and back flat.
2) Push your torso backward and raise your butt up to move into a pike position so your body forms an inverted V.
3) Bend your elbows to lower your upper chest to the ground while keeping your butt up. As you lower your chest, drop your butt down so your body is in a straight line when you’re closest to the ground.
4) Straighten your arms to push your chest up, but allow for a slight arch in your back similar to the yoga Upward Dog position.
5) From this position, push your torso backward and repeat the sequence beginning at Step 2.
Obviously the theme this week is eight. Eight years … eight lessons … and today … an 8-minute workout that’ll kick your ass as much or as little as you want it to. It’s full-body and requires no equipment besides a watch or a timer, a place for you to get sweaty and a good attitude. But you already have the good attitude down, right? Now let’s do this!
This 8-minute workout is broken down into 16 different 30-second intervals — including moves to warm you up and cool you down some. For each interval, you can take it as hard or as easy as you want. If you want to make it a true HIIT session, then really push yourself to do as many reps as you can of each move per interval. If you’re wanting to take it easier (say, you’re doing this over your lunch break and don’t have access to a shower), then take your intensity down a notch. It’s up to you! No matter how fast you do it, you’ll be working your entire body — and getting strength and cardio work in at the same time. Plus, we think it’s totally fun. And, only 8 minutes, so totally doable!
1. March in place. Think about what you want to get out of this workout today.
2. Jog in place. Think about why you’re doing this workout today.
3. Jumping jacks. Be sure to reach all the way up and touch your hands overhead.
Anyone can use the app — all it takes is a smartphone, a spare wall, and a chair.
The 7-minute session (which was so successful it inspired the New York Times to release their own version of the app a few months after the original came out) consists of 12 relatively standard exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. Ten of them require nothing but your own body (you’ll need a chair that can support your weight for the other two).
Here’s the Times app counting down: 18 more seconds of jumping jacks.Screenshot
Here’s the full set of exercises, which I tried out myself:
1. Jumping Jacks
2. Wall sits
5. Step-up (on chair)
7. Triceps dips (on chair)
9. High knees/running in place
11. Push-ups and rotations
12. Side planks
Between each exercise, you rest for 10 seconds.
Worth The Hype?
The workout is quick, unpleasant (in the way only a good workout can be), and came with some pretty quick results — I was slightly sore in two areas of my body that my 5-day-a-week yoga regimen hasn’t seemed to have reached. I also noticed a little bit of extra mental clarity and decreased anxiety (which is why I do yoga) immediately after the workout.
Another plus to the 7-minute-regimen: I live in a New York apartment with very little extra space, but I was nevertheless able to do the whole workout in a corner of my living room using just my phone, a yoga mat, and a fold-up chair.
A Few Caveats
The Times app illustrates how to do a wall sit.Screenshot
As expected, the physical benefits didn’t seem to last quite as long as my 1.5-hour yoga sessions. While my heart raced and my mind cleared for a few minutes immediately after the workout, those side effects wore off within a few hours. I only did it twice, though, so perhaps if I committed to a daily 7-minute workout the benefits would persist.
Also, since this specific workout is so new, there are no long-term studies comparing its results to those of longer cardio and weight-training workouts. In general, though, the evidence researchers do have supports the benefits of high-intensity intervals, both in terms of building muscle mass and improving heart health.
Even for patients with coronary artery disease, short bouts of intense interval training were found to be more beneficial in helping them regain heart function than traditional, continuous workouts — though anyone with a heart condition should consult a doctor before trying a new exercise routine.
The most important thing when doing interval training is committing as much effort as possible throughout the whole workout, making sure to push yourself. After all, each exercise only lasts 30 seconds.
For anyone who has followed me for awhile knows that I am intrinsically a bit lazy. I don’t particularly hold a fondness for exercise nor do I particularly detest exercise. I nothing exercise in the sense that it is just something I have incorporated into my life in order to stay healthy. It’s kind of like kids and high school. There are those who spring out of bed everyday with a ear-to-ear smile who truly adored high school. There are those who absolutely hated every waking moment of high school. Then there are those of us mucks who endured it because it was a necessary milestone to endure. Fitness to me is just that – a necessity to staying healthy – not a choice.
This is the primary reason that my personal fitness motto is ‘biggest bang for my workout buck!’ (BBWOB) Essentially, I want to do the bare minimum in the least amount of time. I need an exercise which will build muscle, tone / define, and can be accomplished in as few movements as possible. And let me just toss out a disclaimer that I am not certified personal trainer nor am I any sort of fitness expert. I do however, am a little nerdy and spend hours in researching the latest & most efficient workout trends so that I can always maximize the results with minimum effort. This BBWOB approach is just what has worked for me in not only keeping the near 40lbs off for 2+ years but it has given me body definition I never thought possible. So please keep in mind what works for me may not be the right answer for you.
Now that is out of the way …
When I was transitioning from weight loss to maintaining, I slowly shifted my workout from all cardio to cardio with some form of strength training. Now when I hear strength training, my knee-jerk reaction is to think of traditional weight lifting; which sucks the happiness right out of my soul! Not because I hold any malice inclination towards the activity but because I know enough to comprehend the amount of time required to invest in it (refer to first sentence). I have always found the ‘heavy / serious’ lifting section of any gym to be very intimidating. It just makes me feel absurdly out-of-place, awkward, and reminiscent of being back in junior high school at that very first boy-girl dance. You know the one where all the girls tries to play it cool making small talk on one side of the gym while the boys awkwardly contemplate the distinct possibility of a public ‘no’ on the other? YES – that level of awkwardness. I can’t even tell you why but the minute I step on to the thick rubber mats in the free weight section of any gym I immediately feel like a fish out of water.
Aside from a major case of the inept, for the Ordinary Jane / Joe who is only looking to tone and define, who is not looking to bulk & exponentially increase muscle mass, enter physique/body competitions, or have any aspirations to be a serious weight lifter, the abundant time investment seem to be a bit of an overkill. However, the core concept of working muscle groups was a good one and it inspired me to look for exercises which targets the largest muscle groups in one or two movements.
Enter compound exercises. Compound exercise is defined as “… any exercise that involves the use of more than one major muscle group at a time. Typically, there is one larger muscle group that ends up doing the majority of the work, and then one or more smaller muscle groups that are recruited secondarily” (Source: A Workout Routine).One of the major benefits of many staple compound exercises can be done equipment free also known as bodyweight strength training. The dynamic dual allows me to work multiple muscles at once and no or very little equipment required was a natural win-win for me.
So here is a sample of my typical workout:
WHAT: Elliptical in various squat positions
DURATION: 30 minutes on high resistance. When the resistance gets too easy I bump it up. Started at Level 2 now I am at Level 6.
BBWOB TIP: Quality over Quantity – In order to maximize the benefits form matters. For the first few workouts, do push ups long ways of a mirror to check body positioning. Generally in the upright push up position, visually the body, arms and floor should form an almost right angle (See fitness model photo above).
WHAT: Three forms of Planks (Regular, High, Arms Up)
At a petite 4’ 11″, Kacy Catanzaro invokes the fearsomeness of a Peter Pan understudy. It’s a bit hard to imagine she’s the leading woman on American Ninja Warrior, a show that asks contestants to scale walls, run up vertical ramps and fling themselves between wobbly polls like a flying squirrel. She was also the first woman to complete their near-impossible finals course (you can see this in all its glory here). Catanzaro, who is now sponsored by Pom, and boyfriend, coach, and fellow ninja Brent Steffensen believe that even non-ninjas can mirror their daily strength workout — though we’ll understand if you’re skeptical after watching the video. They break it down in this six-move workout that will ready you to Spiderman up a 30-foot elevator shaft along with look and feel a whole lot fitter.
The Three Rules of Ninja Workouts
1. No weights.
Other athletes use weights to increase the difficultly of their workouts and gain strength. This agenda isn’t for ninjas, because their aim is to be as lean as possible. Ninjas are concerned with high, fast reps at bodyweight and transitioning quickly from movement to movement to work different muscle groups, and simulate the diverse challenges of the course.
2. No rest. Ninjas focus on increasing the number of reps in a given work period and decreasing the rest time between intervals. This makes sense because each obstacle on the course takes one or a few “reps” of a given movement and there’s no down time between obstacles. That means that need to keep muscles and lungs primed, and practice getting in the headspace to keep going.
3. No show-off moves You’d think ninjas would be looking constantly for things to jump onto. In fact, their movements are often equipment-free and low-risk. No box jumps, for instance, because they can lead to twisted ankles or nasty scrapes. No one-arm push-ups either, which have little pay-off in strength terms, and force shoulders to contort in awkward ways. Their rule of thumb: If you’re doing a movement just because it looks cool, skip it.
Beginner Do a traditional push-up. Focus on good form: Keep back flat, abs engaged, and elbows tight to your body; chest should hit as close to the ground as possible without using belly to press off the ground to the top.
Intermediate Pike push-up using a box or a bench. Keep your feet on the box or bench, and plant hands in front of you so your torso is vertical or near vertical. Perform a push-up, keeping hips piked high in the air. This helps build shoulder strength and mobility, and gets you used to being upside down.
Ninja-Level Go for the full handstand push-up. Facing a wall, kick up into a handstand. Hold a hollow-body position, tightening your glutes, and keeping your shoulders down and abs engaged. Lower head down to the floor, then push through the floor back to start. When this becomes easy, practice deficit HSPUs, with your hands on weight plates, to increase the range of motion.
Beginner Start with a traditional lunge. Keep your front knee over your ankle and tap back knee to the ground, practicing balance and control throughout the movement
Intermediate Lunge with a kick. At the bottom of the lunge, push through the heel of your front leg to stand up and kick; return to start. Switch legs and repeat. This progression helps build explosive power one leg at a time.
Ninja-Level Jumping lunges/Jumping kicking lunges. Explode out of the bottom of the lunge to switch legs. Progress to kicking out of the bottom of the lunge, and then switching legs.
Beginner Static hangs from the bar and ring rows. With shoulders down and engaged, hang onto a pull-up bar, aiming to increase your time with each hang. Build shoulder strength with ring rows, increasing your angle to the ground over time by putting your feet on a chair or box until you are horizontal.
Intermediate Pull-ups. Practice control throughout the whole movement. Start from a dead hang, and pull yourself fully over the bar, so it’s level with your clavicle.
Ninja-Level Push ups + lateral movement. Use a neutral grip, and at the top of the pull-up, shift your weight so you move your upper body to be centered over your right hand, then shift it so it’s centered over your left hand, chest moving laterally across the bar. (This is an exception to the “don’t look cool” rule—it is both functional and a crowd-pleaser.)
Beginner Arms-free jumps. Squat to just above parallel, arms to your sides, jump up and point your toes, then land softly on the balls of your feet. These help you build leg strength and explosive power.
Intermediate Tuck jump. Begin with knee bent at 90 degrees, then explode up, bringing knees as close to the chest as possible while recovering in enough time to land softly. This takes the place of box jumps and has two major advantages: It forces you to practice landing softly to avoid injury, and it’s a better cardio workout, because the box jump forces you to take a momentary rest at the top before you make your way down.
Ninja-Level Perform one leg tuck jumps, trying to maintain your balance from the start of the movement through the landing. Like all single-legged movements, this will help identify strength differences and improve balance.
Beginner Tuck up. Lie flat with your arms extended behind your head. Keeping your back straight and shoulders away from your ears, lift your torso and knees simultaneously, reaching your fingers toward your toes. Hold for a second at the top, then lower slowly.
Intermediate V-up. Same as the tuck-up movement, but keep your legs and arms extended. Work on increasing the number of reps and slowing the time you take to lower to the ground while maintaining a hollow position.
Ninja-Level Straight leg bicycle tuck. Lie on your back and kick your legs straight up. Put your hands behind your head. Lift your torso, and scissor your body to touch your left elbow to your right knee while maintaining straight legs. Repeat on the other side. This one is more about speed and keeping your core engaged, so work on increasing reps in short periods of time.
This is an often-overlooked skill that’s essential to your workouts (think gripping a barbell or rower handle), as well as everyday life (like playing guitar). Unlike the other five moves, these exercises may feel more foreign. Progress slowly as you gain strength and familiarity to avoid injury.
Beginner Counterbalanced static holds. Stand on a bench or box positioned under a pull-up bar. Grip the bar with only your fingers, and bend your knees to use some, but not all of your bodyweight, to pull you down. Hold on for as long as possible.
Intermediate Static holds with full bodyweight. Practice increasing your time in the finger-hold position.
Ninja-Level Shifting static holds. Shift your bodyweight between your hands, holding on with just your fingers.
These creative twists promise bigger calorie burn, a more stable core and a stronger upper body.
There’s a reason push-ups have stood the test of time—they work. “It’s a multi-joint exercise that targets your pecs, triceps, deltoids, abdominals and all of your key muscle stabilizers,” says Lucas Varella, a Tier 4 coach in Century City, California. “Plus, it doesn’t require any equipment, so you can perform push-ups anytime, anywhere.” The only catch is that in order to see results (and avoid injury), you have to do them correctly: Keep your head, neck and spine in a neutral position, your abs engaged and your lower body muscles (hips, glutes, etc.) activated throughout the movement.
How it works: Perform one traditional push-up using good form. Work your way up to 3 sets of 8. Once you can complete those without faltering, you’re ready to move on to these variations. “Mixing up your hand positioning and body movements will challenge different muscles, burn more calories and test your endurance,” says Varella. Tackle one of these exercises at a time. Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps, using proper form, and then move on to the next one.
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, back flat, legs extended behind you, toes tucked under). Keeping upper body engaged, lower right forearm to floor, placing elbow under shoulder, then lower left forearm to floor. Hold plank for one count, and then rise back up to start, placing one palm on floor at a time.
2. Mountain Climber Push-Up
Start in push-up position, and bring right knee in toward chest; extend leg behind you, and then immediately bring left knee in toward chest; extend leg behind you. Perform a push-up, keeping elbows by sides. Repeat.
3. Bird-Dog Push-Up
Perform a push-up, keeping elbows by sides. Extend right arm in front of you and left leg behind you; hold balance for one count, then lower. Do another push-up, and repeat balance on other side (left arm; right leg). Repeat.
4. Push-Up Row
Start in push-up position, gripping a kettlebell* in each hand, with palms facing each other. (*Note: The bigger the kettlebell, the more stable you will feel.) Bend elbows behind you, keeping them close to sides, lowering chest toward floor, and then press back up. Once up, pull left elbow behind you, bringing kettlebell up to ribs; lower. Repeat push-up and perform row on the opposite (right) side. Continue alternating sides with each rep.
5. Uneven Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back flat, legs extended behind you), with left hand on top of the ball part of a horizontal kettlebell. Without rotating your torso, keeping hips and shoulders square, bend elbows behind you, lowering chest toward floor, and press back up. Do 8 reps; switch sides and repeat.
6. Side Plank Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back flat, legs extended behind you). Lower chest toward floor, and then as you press back up, rotate torso to left and keep gaze on your left hand, as you lift your left arm and leg toward the ceiling, forming an X with your body. Hold for one count; rotate back to high plank and repeat.
7. Sliding Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back flat, legs extended behind you), with a towel under your left palm. Slowly slide left hand forward, as you bend right elbow behind you and lower chest toward floor. Without falling flat, extend left arm as far forward as possible, and then slowly slide back up to start, keeping arm straight throughout. Do 8 reps; switch sides and repeat.
8. Stability Ball Scissors
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, legs extended and together behind you), with tops of feet centered on a stability ball. Bring right knee in toward chest, then rotate torso slightly as you extend leg out, parallel to the ground. Perform a push-up, keeping body squared up as much as possible. Reverse motion back to start. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating sides with each rep.
9. Traveling Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, legs extended behind you). Perform a push-up, and then step right leg under and to the left of your left leg and right hand under and to the side of left hand. Step left hand and leg over the right, moving back into push-up position. Perform a push-up, and then reverse motion (left hand/leg steps over right; right goes under left) back to the right (ending where you started.
10. Pike Push-Up
Start in a pike position (upside down “V”), with palms under shoulders, toes centered on top of a stability ball, legs together, hips raised toward ceiling. Keeping lower body still, bend elbows behind you, slowly lowering head toward floor; carefully press back up to start.
Yes, that is the number of days I have obsessively logged every morsel which passed my lips and every mascara running session at the gym into MFP.
I recently celebrated my 2-year weight loss maintenance anniversaryand I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount through many, many bouts with trial & error and just observations. I’d like to share this collective in hopes that it’d help others. So here goes nothing!
A recent MFP friend asked how do I stay motivated to stay active in maintenance. In my haste to publish my anniversary post I think I really missed the mark on addressing the question properly. What I initially stated was that regular exercise had simply became a mindless habit which is mostly true. However, in giving the question some additional thought, I feel that I can elaborate a bit more with more practical response. So I asked myself, ‘Self, when you are dog-tired & would much prefer to veg out in front of the computer, what does drive you to go to the gym?’ The answer is in two parts.
The first is that it is a habit for me because I absolutely thrive in routines and schedules. However, to say that is the sole driver is not 100% accurate. What keeps me going is that I continue to experience measurable progress towards my fitness goals. And this one is a bit of the chicken or the egg phenomena … let me explain.
My main mark of progress when I was losing weight, like many others, was the fickle frenemy the scale. No matter if it was 2 lbs or a mere fraction of a pound loss, every miniscule step closer to my goal, the more I was motivated to carry on with what I was doing. It is not that much different to be successful in maintenance. I shifted my focus from losing weight to fitness oriented ones, ie. gain muscle definition. Although I secretly dream of looking like this,
Photo of Jamie Eason: Former NFL cheerleader & Winner of the World’s Fittest Model Competition
I know that this is something I am unable to maintain for the rest of my life. It’s not a matter of whether I can physically accomplish it. Rather it’s a matter of being able to comply with the heavy demands necessary to achieve AND maintain which is something I am just not willing to invest the time & effort into for the-rest-of-my-life. So I opted to choose something which is more realistic for me and my lifestyle.
Enter the First Lady, Michelle Obama. The First Lady’s toned shoulders and arms requires effort of course. But the ‘upkeep’ is a very sustainable amount of effort without becoming burdensome. So with a realistic goal set, an adjustment in exercise regimen, all it took was consistency and time (patience). The more muscle definition that I saw the more motivated I became. Everytime I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and see the budding toned legs, arms, or shoulders, my initial reaction was always ‘holy shit is that me?’ Immediately followed by ‘wow I never thought any part of me could ever look like that!’
So, that’s the chicken or the egg phenomena: I go to the gym and workout regularly because I am seeing positive results towards my fitness goals. And I am seeing positive results because I am going to the gym to workout regularly.
6 mths Strength Training – still fairly doughy with bat wings & bra strap fat (Weights Exclusively)
12 mths Strength Training – starting to see some definition in certain positions – the progress keeps me motivated to carry on – tweaks exercises to get the most bang for the workout buck (Bodyweight Exercises Only)
18 mths Strength Training – muscle definition becoming more prominent – swapped out all my tshirts for tank tops & I always do my pushups in front of a mirror to check my body position but more importantly seeing my shoulder & arm muscles at work motivates me to really push myself to do ‘just one more’ (Bodyweight Exercises Only)
I mentioned previously how utterly ‘lost’ I felt initially in maintenance. The incremental progress during weight loss was suddenly POOF – gone. I felt as if my inner tube had been deflated leaving me in the middle of the ocean just floundering. Simply being intellectually aware that continued activity was ‘good for me’ was not enough of a motivator because to a certain extent, a part of me did have the ‘yay I’ve reached goal – I’ve crossed the proverbial finish line’ mentality. Embracing the reality that there is no finish line & that this is for the rest of my life sort of commitment, it was imperative that I set new goals to help me overcome a common transition pitfall from weight loss to maintenance.
Fitness goals doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or monumental in order to be effective. It can be a series of mini goals. ie. 2,000 steps in three months No matter what it is, it is a key factor to staying active in maintenance. Every now & again, when I hanker to skip the gym, I ask myself, ‘is it really worth it?’ As one MFP friend very aptly described, muscle definition is a “herd-of-turtles-slow” process and so my answer 99% of the time is a resounding ‘NO.’ It’s just not worth it to me to undo all the time & effort already invested for one night of sitting on my duff at home for an extra hour or so. Hope this more in depth answer is helpful.
Several key behavior changes that occurred over the year of follow-up also distinguished maintainers from regainers. Not surprisingly, those who regained weight reported significant decreases in their physical activity, increases in their percentage of calories from fat, and decreases in their dietary restraint. Thus, a large part of weight regain may be attributable to an inability to maintain healthy eating and exercise behaviors over time. The findings also underscore the importance of maintaining behavior changes in the long-term maintenance of weight loss.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Bread … oh how I love thee! It’s my standard go-to for lunch because it is easy, quick, and perfect for a busy morning rushing two kids out the door for school. But when I decided to get healthy, I needed to tweak it so that it is the healthiest version of my standard go-to. Instead of trying to force myself to eat new strange ‘healthy’ foods (ie. lettuce wrap in lieu of bread), I stuck with what I loved and simply swapped out components in order to make it healthier. As you can see below, simply by changing the bread, I saved 80 calories per sandwich, reduced carbs, & total fat/sugar intake. Which may not seem like a lot but multiply that by a week (400 calories) or a year (22,400 calories), it adds up really quickly in my favor.