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Push-Up Ritual

Push-ups. The ol’ standby. They’re done everywhere. Gym classes, beaches, garages, bedrooms, boxing and MMA gyms…. The list is endless. O Ya, just a hunch, but I guess inmates have been known to do a few in prison too. Who says that push-ups aren’t effective at gaining upper body strength? The secret to making gains with this exercise is to make them progressively more difficult. This can be done in a number of ways. Once you hit a certain number, say 50 or 60, you can add a weighted vest to make them harder. Also, you can work on one-arm push-up progressions to increase your maximum strength levels. One-arm push-ups require a significant amount of core strength and total body tension. This is a key point. Remember,Tension=Strength.


Another important point to remember is that you have to breathe when performing high tension exercises. Don’t hold your breath, as it will drive our blood pressure sky high. Think about it as “breathing behind the shield”. Remember the movie 300? Well if you don’t…. or if your a loser and you never saw it, here’s my point. The Spartans in the movie had a bronze torso shield in the outline of the core muscles that covered the abdomen area. Imagine this as your core area when performing these exercises. Brace your abs hard like your about to take a punch in the stomach. Inhale on the lowering portion and exhale on the lifting portion. It’s also been called “setting the core”. This needs to be done to protect the lower back. This technique can be used on many different exercises that require max strength including Squats, Standing Military Press, Deadlifts, and any of the pull-up variations. Since this post deals with push-ups, we’ll focus on these now.

Push-ups are a great “bang for buck” exercise because they work your core as well as the chest, arms, shoulders, and back. Another advantage is that they can be done anywhere, even when you’re watchin’ t.v. There really is no excuse why they’re not getting done. Here’s a push-up ritual that I do almost daily. Forget about over-training and all that other bullshit. Push-ups can be done often. The human body is highly adaptable and can withstand a lot of volume once you build yourself up. Notice I said ritual, not routine. I believe that when you look at it as a ritual and not a routine, you actually trick the mind into believing that it is something that you want to do as opposed to something that you have to do. Well, enough talk, here it is…

First, I usually try to bang out anywhere from 50-60 fast push-ups to get the burn going in the arms and shoulders. I don’t use a full-range of motion on these: I just try to go as fast as possible. Once I hit that number, I go into a plank a position and hold it for about a minute or more. This is where you should focus on the high tension technique discussed above. Keep your abs braced hard and try to stay straight as a board. Try to slow your breathing down during this time because you will likely be sucking wind from machine gunning the first set out. Don’t worry about it if your not great at it at first…it’s gonna take some practice. After the minute or so is up, you will perform 3-point push-ups. Simply raise one of your legs off the ground and try to spread the legs apart a little wider on these. By doing this, you will engage the core a little more. I usually shoot for 10 on each side, focusing more on form. Full range of motion and a little slower. Finally, alternate your grip on the last “mini” set. I go from regular (arms under the shoulders), wide (arms extended well past the shoulders), and then bring it back to the narrow position (hands inside the shoulders) to give the triceps one last blast. Try to continue this sequence as long as you can. The set is then over.  Like I previously mentioned, this can used as warm-up for a strength training session, or just as something you can do in the morning upon  wakening to get the blood flowing. Also, if you start to feel like you’ve been on the couch too long at night, this routine could be done during commercial breaks. Remember, millions of people have been doing push-ups since the beginning of time, make it a ritual and you will be rewarded.




What if I’m too far out of shape?

Some of you might be asking yourself this same question. Speaking from personal experience, I faced this dilemma about seven years ago. A co-worker of mine was involved in a local boxing gym. I always was a fan of the sport and it piqued my interest, and I decided to go check it out. While I was  involved in athletics in the past, I had let it slip away for a period of about 4-5 years. All I really did during my mid to late 20’s was work and go out to bars. Needless to say, the booze and smokes are not conducive to cardiovascular health. I found this out the hard way. My first round hitting the heavy bag since high school proved difficult to say the least. F#ck that….it was damn hard. I didn’t even make it through one,  two-minute round. Damn, I got some work to do. Well, here’s how I got back into it…. and you can to.

Most boxing timers either have two or three minute work intervals, with either a 30-second or 1- minute break. Instead of timing the rounds in the traditional manner, I turned it around. What I mean by that is this: Instead of punching for 2 minutes with a 30-second break like you are supposed to, I used the rest portion on the timer to work, and the work portion to rest. Confused? No prob. It’s simple.

Let the timer start and run out the traditional 2- minute work interval. When the 30-second bell goes off to rest, you will then begin to punch. It’s only 30-seconds, so go hard. You’ll have two minutes to rest in between rounds. It makes it easier to mentally handle.

As a few weeks go by, change the rest portion on the timer to 1- min. Keep the timer’s work interval at 2 minutes. You will now punch during the 1 minute “rest” portion,  and then take 2 minutes in-between rounds. So you see, you’re just making a gradual increase (30-seconds) in the amount of time spent hitting the bag, and you keep your rest at 2min in-between rounds. Simple….but not easy.

After another couple of weeks, you should now start to really see your conditioning levels improve. You are now ready to work for the full 2-minutes on the timer, and keep your rest at 1-minute in-between rounds. As you progress even further, feel free to try to work for the full three minutes with a 30-second break in-between rounds. If you can do this, you now know that you have built a solid base of conditioning.  Who knows, you might even be ready for some sparring??

**Tips** -When first starting on the Heavy Bag, make sure you get some good hand wraps to go under your gloves. You have to allow time for tendons and ligaments to get use to the blunt force trauma of punching the bag. For your first few sessions, your hands, wrists, and elbows will be extremely sore. Don’t worry, this is only normal. Look at it as a way of “paying your dues,” so to speak. What’s happening is that the trauma induced on your joints and wrists is actually  causing acute micro-tears in the muscle and cartilage, and your body just needs time to adapt. This adaptation will take place; just stick with it. Also, try to find a heavy bag that is already broken in. New bags are notoriously stiff and they take a while to soften up. You’re best bet would be to try to find a used bag online, or go to a second-hand sports store. Your hands and wrists will thank me.


boxing timerThis is similar to the first timer I picked up when I started hitting the bag. It can be found at most any major sporting goods store, and it is relatively inexpensive. Good buy.


General health tips

For any of you out there who have allergies or sinus problems, this one is for you. Speaking for myself, as soon as I hit about 30-31 years of age, I started to develop some allergies. It just happens. First, I noticed that if I eat any dairy products or bread, my head fills up and get all that sinus junk and it just sucks. No bueno. I really started to notice it when I would go out drinking on a Saturday night, at the end of the night have some McDonald’s or a burrito, and pass out. The next day, to beat the hangover, I would go workout and try to get some sort of cardio in to sweat it out. Well, I soon realized that the booze wasn’t the only thing coming out of my head. All kinds of ‘good stuff’ was coming out of my sinuses. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that this not only happened after a night out, but also during the week when I ate or drank certain foods. If this sounds like you, there are a few things you can do:

1). Try to lay off the wheat and dairy. Milk is for baby cows, not adults. As far as wheat, I know it’s everywhere, but keep in mind, grains have only been introduced into the human diet in the last couple of hundred years. Some people can get away with eating breads and grains; unfortuneately I’m not that lucky. If you’re reading this… you probably aren’t either. No big deal though, at least you know that going in. The reason a lot of people can’t tolerate them is because they are inflammatory foods and they wreak havoc on your system. Bloating and swelling are two major effects, along with digestion problems. You’re probably just better off finding other food alternatives. No big deal.

2). If you do splurge, and everybody does, here’s what you can do. Let’s say you go out on a Saturday night and gorge down pizza and about 16 beers. The next day you feel like sh*t. Well, go get some kind of cardio in, say about a good 20-25 mins should do the trick. Really try to ramp it up at the end. When your done and have caught your breath, do some sort of push-ups or planks. I have found that the holding your head in the correct position that it needs to be in to perform these exercises really starts to loosen up all the junk that is lodged in your head. Note* have some sort of towel or rag nearby, its gonna get ugly. Don’t be that guy (or girl) at the gym. Alternate planks and push-ups for about 3-4 times. That’s it done. Hit the shower; start it warm for a few minutes, and then finish with cold water for about a minute or two. As long as you can handle the cold. Don’t like it?? Tough. I didn’t tell you to go out drinking. You do the crime, you do the time pal. Do this and I gaurantee you’ll be back to brand new.

Bas Rutten MMA

The Bas Rutten MMA workout is a stellar routine that will get you in phenomenal cardio shape. The great thing about this workout, (or not so great depending on how you look at it), is that you can’t pace yourself to make it easier. When hear the combinations called out, you fire ’em out with 100% power and intensity. There are also some defensive sprawls mixed in which breaks your breathing rhythm even further, improving your conditioning.  You can use this workout with a partner holding pads, or you could just hammer away on the heavy bag. Either way will work effectively.

This workout contains four Audio CD’s, along with one Video DVD that has Bas himself showing you how to use this system.The Audio CD’s consist of: Boxing, Thai Boxing, All-Around Fighting, and the All-Around workout CD. On the Boxing and Thai-Boxing CD’s, you will hear Bas’s voice calling out various combinations which you throw on command. On the Thai boxing CD, you’ll either throw a kick or a knee depending on what is called for.  You can either choose two or three minute rounds, depending on your conditioning level. (Note: I highly suggest that you start with two minute rounds, the combinations are called out very fast. You will be winded.) The All-Around Fighting CD is roughly the same as the boxing and Thai boxing CD’s, except there are sprawls mixed in when you hear “defense”. This is killer because your changing levels and will skyrocket your heart rate. I frequently use three rounds of this CD as a warm-up before any type of workout; it really loosen’s you up and gets your body ready for whatever your going to throw at it. The All-Around Workout CD is  longer than the previous CD’s and mixes in some power training. Push-ups, sit-ups, bicep curls, and neck bridges are included to involve some strength work alongside the cardio aspect. This is vitally important because the two must go hand-in-hand. Strength without endurance will do you no good during competition, or whatever you are using these CD’s for.

I must say that purchasing this CD collection was one of the best things I did to improve my conditioning levels. This set will allow you to:

1). Improve stamina and power

2). Burn bodyfat like candlewax

3). Improve speed and reflexes

4). Have fun and reduce stress levels by firing out different punch combinations and kicks/knees.

I have purchased a few of Bas Rutten’s products, and guess what, they’re all golden. Just to give you a little bit of backround about the man, he is an accomplished Dutch Thai boxer who also won the prestigious King of Pancrase World Championship belt in 1995. He defended that title two more times successfully before moving on to become the UFC World Heavyweight Champion in May of 1998. Bottom line, the guy really knows his sh*t when it comes to MMA conditioning. Now retired, he claims that he still uses this same system with the fighters that he trains. I believe it. They are that effective. So if your a competitive fighter looking for and an edge, or just a weekend warrior who’s looking to lean out and harden up, this CD collection is definitely for you. I had a little bit of a difficult time trying to upload the instructional DVD that accompanied the workout CD’s, so I attached this clip to give you an idea of the Thai boxing routine with a partner holding pads. Like I said though, you can still do this routine on the heavy bag if you want. Just keep in mind that you will be hearing the combinations called out on the CD in comparison to the guy holding the pads calling them out like he does in this clip.