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The art of the push up in the office workout

January 2012
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I’ve written before about my office workout routine, it isn’t much – I do a lot of push ups and I ride my bike on a trainer.  It won’t get me the build of Arnold, but it builds enough strength in my upper body so that I don’t hunch after running five miles.  Think about that if you have a tough time with distance running – are you slouching as you tire?  That’s a big problem you’ll need to correct if so – it’s one of the major reasons distance running is so tough.

We should all know that push ups are one of the best exercises you can do but also because they’re easy, free and they don’t require a trip to the gym.  For those of us with desk jobs and families, they’re golden.  200 push ups in a day (in five sets of 40 in my case) take about 15 minutes – total, and you won’t have to change clothes to do them.  And over time, they’ll get you ripped, big time.

There is a problem inherent in a push up though and that’s what this post is about.  It’ll be short, I promise.

Have you ever noticed that you tend to favor your dominate hand when you do a push up?  If you haven’t, do 200 push ups a day for a month and look in the mirror.  You’ll see it.  There is a simple fix for this though.  While you’re doing the second half of your push ups, look towards the direction of your dominant arm – simply turn your head.  Your weight should naturally shift slightly to your weak side.  Don’t ask me why, I can’t tell you – I just figured it out a year or so ago out of necessity.

For example, I’m left-handed.  I turn my head to the left (keeping my head on the proper plane), as if I were looking off my left shoulder.  I have to be careful with this though.  The simple act of turning my head adds weight to my right lat (the muscle under your shoulder on your back).  Too many push ups with my head turned and I end up with a bigger lat on the right.  Balance is a funny thing.  So important, yet so difficult to achieve.

By the way, if you’re having a tough time getting from 3 to 5 miles, or from 5 to 7 or 10, if you don’t already work out, try a hundred push ups five days a week for three or four weeks – I’d be willing to bet you’re faster and can run longer because you won’t be slouching as you tire.

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5 Comments

  1. martha84 says:

    I’m a huge advocate of the push up. Such a simple movement can build enormous strength gains for anyone!

  2. bearrunner says:

    Hello! That would be neat swimming with the sharks! I wouldn’t mind doing that myself.. Would make for a neat triathlon, Shark Triathlon…
    I am not scared of swimming, I already know how to swim… I am however going to attempt to teach my girlfriend how to front crawl. I am not an instructor by no means but think i know the basics… We are heading to the pool tomorrow night for the first time. Nothing like getting out of the pool and walking into the cold haha

    • bgddyjim says:

      I didn’t mean to imply that I thought you might be afraid of the water, I was merely trying to relate my history to your story… In other words, you lamented that you might feel like a guppy rather than a shark – I came all the way from being terrified of the water to being part fish, that’s all.

      Swimming with the sharks was awesome and humbling at the same time. I’ve never felt so small. It was definitely a Jacques Cousteau moment.

      Good luck with teaching your girlfriend the crawl, you’re a braver man that I. I have a tougher time coming in from the cold – it takes me forever to warm up in the water… Ah, winter

  3. Highly descriptive post, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part
    2?

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