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Thursday, August 5, 2010
“Karl Gotch was 75 years old when we first met and he still had the strength of a grizzly. He was known as the “God of Pro Wrestling” in Japan because of his awesome technical skill and perfect physique. Yet, Karl didn’t train with weights. He believed that real strength was achieved when you worked at mastering your own body weight from every conceivable position.”
I love body weight exercises. It's no secret to anyone that knows me, my routines, and my suggested routines. Don't get me wrong, I stick to a free weight schedule for certain exercises of course, but often time I find that I can accomplish an even more intense and beneficial workout from my own body weight. I really think that a lot of the time, body weight exercises are over-looked because people fail to perform them correctly, so they find free weight exercises (or so unfortunately, even machine style workouts) to be a better workout, even if they are performing those exercises incorrectly as well. But it's totally understandable! I even thought the same thing years ago! It's easy to get lost in the clouds and hazziness that surrounds proper workout technique and diet! But as time grew on and my knowledge of the subect followed, I now find myself only focusing on free weights and body weight, and I may only touch a machine for some bicep isolation sets, cable crossovers, or for a little bit of lower isolation.
Along with proper diet and proper routine, intensity plays a key role in deciding your muscle mass and strength gains. Intensity and form; I find them both to be just as important as the other, because well, they are. Most people never understand this from the start (i.e. the guy that you see in the gym tossing up the bar as fast as he can while on the bench press, as to impress everyone around him). Tack on a poor diet (which most beginners can't help to avoid), and you'll see yourself sitting on quite the plateau for some time. The exact one that I found myself on at one point. See, there's no condescension ;) But this is for another topic, and another day.
I'm well experienced on a bench press, just like the next guy. I've experienced completely awesome gains from being on a bench press, just like the next guy, and I'm a strong believer in the bench press, just like the next guy. But it does have its cons, such as the injuries that many people find themselves suffering from while completing what they thought would be just another set. And at a certain point when I found myself without my equipment, I had to turn to body weight exercises, which I won't lie, I was hesitant about. It was more of a last resort than anything. That's how I saw it, at least; I doubted it. But I soon found the exercises' true benefits and gains that you can accomplish from performing those body weight exercises, and how far that they can really take you (check out my entry on the limitations and and advances of body weight exercises, found under the topic 'Body Weight Exercises, their limitations, and advances.')!
Normal push-ups became too easy, too quickly. I figured that this would have happened, seeing that I was used to pushing up sets of 200 lbs.+ on an olympic style bar. The next thing that I knew, I was performing six sets of twenty, then thirty, and so on. When this happens, your intensity also obviously suffers quite drastically. Reason being, where is the intensity when you are continuously finding the exercise easier and easier? It simply becomes more non-existent. Muscle hypertrophy (muscle fatigue), followed afterwards of the work-out with proper diet, results in an increse in skeletal muslce mass. The repetition range of eight to twelve reps per set, while reaching muscle hypertrohpy within that range of eight to twelve, has shown to provide the most benefits towards increasing mainly the size of the muscle, and emphasizes less on the strength of it; this is called Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Passing twelve repetitions per set begins to focus more on endurance of the muscle, as oppossed to strength and size. And lower repitions at around two to six reps per set, while lifting with weight that is closer to your one-rep maximum, will result in the muslce becoming stronger as oppossed to focusing on gaining size; this is called Myofibril hypertrophy. So how exactly can you reach your desired muscle hypertrophy range (assuming that you are focused on size and/or strength gains) when you can complete twenty, thirty, or fourty repetitions of the exercise? Now if you have the patience to push yourself to the limit for every single set, even if that takes you eighty reps, then power to you my friend, I envy you. But I personally don't have that patience. Let alone, as I stated, the fact remains that this can and will be detrimental to your goals of gaining size, seeing at these points, your muscles tend to become more compact in your bodie's effort to make them more efficient, because well, it's more endurance at this point than anything.
This is where the Hindu Push-Up came into play. I remember reading article after article on it and reading again and again on its reputation and the gains that so many people have experienced while performing it. They even date back to the early 1900's, and many martial artists, wrestlers, and other athletes of the like, which whom you have heard of, supposedly relied heavily on this single exercise. And after performing it correctly myself, it was clear why.
Let's start with that fact that Hindu push-ups are absolutely incredible for building strong and powerful shoulders, pectorals, and arms, as opposed to the normal push-up, where you aren't working any more than just your pectorals and only a portion of your arms and shoulders. It's much more of a compound movement (movement which utilizes two or more joints and muslce groups in performing the movement), and compound movements are what keep more meat and muscle on your bones than anything else (What do you think the famous bench press, squat, and dead lift is?). You'll see, if you perform the exercise correctly, that about eight Hindu push-ups are about just as equivalent to what it takes to complete around twenty pushups, or at least this is my own personal comparison from trial. They are in fact, deceiving.
'For those who are used to regular pushups, you'll find these pushups to be quite a challenge. Even those who can bench press 400 pounds struggle with 25-straight Hindu pushups when they first begin.'
Be sure to incorporate deep breathing into Hindu push-ups. It helps immensely to build your lung power as well as upper body strength, and your endurance. They're proven to aim and help on flexibility within your shoulders and hips, as well as in your upper and lower back.
It's essential that your form be correct on this movement; essential, just like with every exercise. Should you perform them incorrectly, you will not obtain the real benefits from the exercise. Give yourself that little extra push, to save yourself from a lot of heartache from your end results! If you can only perform one of these, then perform sets of one until you can correctly perform more! Do not be self-conscious! Even performing one of these is awesome! You will get to where you want to be, just be persistent, be confident, and be proud in the fact that no matter what level you are at, you are working towards something great! And you will get there! Get it and do not let anything stop you!
And again, I am going to stress this, as it is very important: The intensity of your training plays such a huge factor in determining your gains that I haven't the words for it. I suggest that you read my post on 'Intensity' before you begin incorporating these exercises which I suggest into your program, and so you can adjust your current routine to the liking that you see fit as well. Intensity does not only pertain to my suggested exercises, but every exercise where your goals are to ultimately obtain muscle mass.
So here's how they work. I'll attach a brief description of how to perform them correctly, followed by this amazingly convenient video that I found on youtube, below.
Via Ehow.com and a tad bit of my editing:
Start in the up position (closely resembling downward facing dog). Start the Hindu pushup with your legs wide apart, your hands planted on the ground and your midsection raised high into the air so that your body forms an inverted "V." Make sure to keep your head down so you don't strain your neck.
Swoop down. Swoop down from the starting position in a controlled and paced way. The descent places lots of tension on your arms and upper chest so you might be tempted to just fall into the descent. Despite this, you should maintain control so that you end up in the down position with your back straight. From here, swing forward so that you arch your back and look up to the ceiling.
Push back up. This final stage is where the difference between the Hindu and the famous dive-bomber pushup comes in to play. While the dive-bomber requires that you bend your arms to come back to the starting position, with the Hindu version you keep your arms straight and bend your back to get to the starting position.
Get back to the starting position and repeat. Once you're back in your starting position you should immediately descend into the swoop and begin the process again.
These will soon get easy enough for you as well, just like any other exercise after so long. Your intensity will drop again, and you must remember that you need to always strive for the utmost intensity in every single work out. At this point, try incorporating regular push-ups in along with the Hindu push-ups. For instance, my first two sets would be composed of two sets of regular push-ups, with a one minute break in between each set. After those are completed, I would move into two sets where I begin with Hindu push-ups; I would complete around eight to twelve in the set, and immediately jump into finishing the set off with regular push-ups, maxing out my intensity and working until muscle fatigue in each set. Then, I would move onto elevated push-ups, which are followed by Hindu push-ups at the end of each set until max intensity and muscle fatigue is attained. Get the idea? Get creative! These types of routines, accompanied by proper diet and form, will result in some massive results in your chest area! Once these become easy, throw a backpack on with some weight inside of it and perform eight sets of regular push-ups, take the backpack off, immediately perform two to four elevated push-ups, and then immediately perform two to four decline push-ups. I guarantee that it will tear your chest muslces up just the way that you're looking for! It's one of my personal secrets to breaking through a hard gainer's tough trials of building a great chest ;] Remember to keep proper form, especially with the backpack on; record yourself if you need to. Do it all right folks, and you will not be disappointed. Remember, don't overwork yourself either! Just because you want to strive for max intensity, does not mean that you need to push your body to a breaking point. And with that being said, I don't suggest doing more than six sets of these kinds of combined exercises in a single workout, on top of the other exercises that also need to be performed.
Give these things a shot kids! I promise that you will not be disappointed!
Posted by James Canady at 3:54 PM