If you recall my past few posts about my job, you'll recall that it frquently disrupts how I train on a pretty regular basis. So, one exercise that I haven't done a whole lot of because of this situation are dips. Unlike push-ups, I need a lttle bit more specific environment do do dips. With push-ups, all I need is the floor. For dips, I need some rigid bars or someplace to hang some ropes.
Lately, however, I've been working in places that have some good, solid hand rails which come to a right-angle corner, perfect for doing dips. In fact, I recall reading somewhere that Vince Gironda favored such a set-up for doing dips. Plus, I tweaked my back at work a little. So, doing exercises where my lower body is hanging allowed me to keep training.
Dips are one of those few exercises that BW guys and weight training guys can agree on being a great exercise. They are awesome for hitting the chest, shoulder and triceps. While they lack the ab work that push-ups do, they are, by nature, more difficult than push-ups are. You can also make these really difficult by doing them on some sort of suspension trainer. Lately, I've been trying to make them more difficult by going down as far as possible. Of course, there's no shame in going down until your arms are at a right angle.
Dips are one of those BW exericses that I left out of my training a lot because I don't always have the right apparatus available. Crunches, on the other hand, are an exercise that I intentionally leave out because I don't think that they're good for very much. In the past week, I've read two articles, one from T-Nation and the other from Bodytribe questioning, and pretty much doubting, that the crunch is a good ab exercise. I must say that the best explanation came by way of Chip Conrad.
The crunch forces your body into a bad posture, over and over and over again. It was a long-time assumption that the abs flexed existed to flex the trunk, which gave rise to the crunch's popularity. In reality, the Abs main job is to stabilize the trunk when it comes under a heavy load. That's why exercises like push-ups and ab wheel roll-outs are so good for the abs: it's more natural. One of my favorite push-ups for working the abs is what I dubbed (with some help) the "Spider T" push-up. . The key during this Push-up is to keep the abs and obliques rigid as you do the push-up. This, along with doing some swing work with stones and a kettlebell (yeah, succumbed to the curiosity of kettlebell training, just a little). It's some bad-ass ab work.
In fact, I'll share with you my last, ass-kicking workout:
1. Grasshoppers, 30 reps
2. Spider T push-ups, 30 reps
3. V-ups, 30 reps (closest I'll come to a crunch)
4. 1 arm Swings, 15 reps each arm w/ 35 lbs kettlebell
5. Woodchoppers, 30 reps with the same bell.
I repeated this for 3 rounds, resting as little as possible (around 30 seconds) between each set. I suggest starting with just two and work your way up.