Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Perfect Push-up should be in your posession. Here's why...

Ubiquity, more often than not, is a curse in the fitness world. If it's everywhere, chances are that it's also over-hyped. That can only mean on thing: it's also a piece of shit if it's being pushed that hard! Only a few legitimate pieces of training equipment manage to elude this fate: most notably, barbells and dumbbells. Stuff like the Perfect Push-up get about as much respect as the 5 lbs, plastic-coated kettlebell and workout DVD set it's placed next to on clearance at your local Wal-Mart.

That's just too bad. I'm not going to go so far as to elevate it to the same pantheon of all-time great training gear as the ancient barbell or dumbbell but I'm quick to defend this often-maligned piece of gear. I've actually got the original and the travel version. I started out like everyone else about this thing: I was very skeptical. Rather than pay good money for something that might turn out to be complete junk, I did the next best thing: I put it out there as a suggestion to anyone looking for a gift for me for Christmas. My wife took the bait, and I got to work on trying it out.

How do these work? They provide the shoulders with more work. Why they do this is pretty simple to understand once you get an info dump on the Deltoid muscle. The Delt is a classic example of multipennate muscle fiber. What that means is the fibers of the muscle are laid in a feather-like arrangement. So, when they contract, they move in a somewhat circular manner. This creates a lot of tension and power in a short movement... or so the creater of the PP, Alden Mills, says, and who am I to disagree with a former platoon commander of SEAL Team Two?

So the Perfect Push-up, by adding rotation to the movement in addition to moving the body up and down, creates more Delt recruitment. So, this dual-action helps make the push-up harder, often reducing the number of reps by 1/3 to 1/2, depending on the push-up variation. That's why I think that they rock so much!

So, if you're doing 50 push-ups without the PP, now you're doing 33...

Wait a second...

This is bullshit, right? It's still well within the realm of the dreaded, muscular-bulk-choking strength endurance! So, what the hell's the point of shelling out the $30 or $40 that these things are going for if there's no "real, serious" strength training benefit?

Think beyond the possibilities of little instruction cards and posters included with the PP. Remember that push-ups are a family of exercises, not just one exercise. So, you just have to look to other push-up variations. So, do other push-ups with them than just the standard push-ups!

Candidate number one for PP's is one of my favorite exercises of all: the handstand push-up. The PP is plenty rugged enough to handle my entire bodyweight bearing down on them and will easily slice off 1/2 of your reps that you're capable of doing due to the rotation and the extra 4 inches of extra height you can lower yourself.

Still not enough? What about one arm push-ups? Did you ever consider those because you can do those on the PP's as well! I started doing those late, last year. Since the handles elevate the body, they make the OAP a little easier on the abs and obliques. That overall ease rapidly disappears as the body dips down, below the handle. Coming back up also becomes more difficult too. Once again, expect at least a 50% drop in reps.

On both push-ups, start out with the handles parallel to your body, rotating them to perpendicular as you drop down.

One thing that anyone who decides to use BW as a part of strength training will quickly realize is that this style of training requires the user to look past the obvious two methods of making an exercise harder: add more reps and/or add more weight. The former only works for so long and the latter costs money and demands more and more stuff. Maybe the perpetual demand for more of the ferrous stuff isn't a problem for you. Others aren't so well endowed. So, I like the PP because it introduced something me to a new, yet simple, way to make an exercise family that is so ubiquitous in the fitness world harder.


Abo said...

Hello there,

I have had a read through your site and enjoyed my time.

I, like you, love bodyweight. There is something nice about the knowledge that you can have an excellent work out anywhere with virtually nothing.

I have been reading alot about the arument over mass gain with bodyweight exclusivly.

Whats your opinion on this? Your obviously very strong but are you happy with your size?

I tried a cluster set of pushups last night and found it very challenging.

Justin_PS said...

Hi Abo,

There is a page to the right that has a collection of my BW + Mass gain articles. I'll give you the brief run-down right now: It's mmore about what you eat than how you train. If the exercise that you're doing is so difficult that you can barely do it for 30 seconds straight, give or take 20 seconds, then the muscle will grow thicker. The body doesn't really know or care if it's extra weight or really poor leverage that's doing the work.

Am I happy with my size? Generally speaking, yes I am. I'm like anyone else though. I get times where I'm not happy with my size and I still wish I was bigger. The urge is fleeting and not strong enough to make me want to get bigger. It's a chore for me to maintain 170-175 lbs and it's even more difficult to rise up higher. I'm not into all the eating, the growing pains, and the clothes shopping that comes from getting bigger. Not to mention the grocery bills.