I typically don’t make new year’s resolutions, but one thing I would love to be able to do is the one arm push up.
When I first started lifting the big goal was to bench press 225 pounds for reps (because I thought it looked cool to have two 45 pound plates on each side of the bar). I reached that goal in a short period of time and it felt good, but it is not even close to impressive as doing full-range one arm push ups.
In fact, I would guess there are more guys who can bench press 315 pounds (three 45’s per side) than men or women who can do 5 full-range one arm push ups. I want to become one of those people.We will talk about steps to progressively build up strength to be able to do one arm push ups. One of the steps is close grip push ups. The guy in this picture is demonstrating decent hand positioning for close grip push ups.]
The Lost Art of “Progressive Calisthenics”
These past two years I have used various body weight circuits as a way to burn fat while maintaining muscle.
This is a great way to condition the body and keep the body fat low, but it is not a way to greatly improve muscle strength using only your body weight as resistance. Before weight training became mainstream, men and women used their own body weight to get incredibly strong. In fact, it is believed the Spartans used extensive calisthenics to create extremely powerful bodies and crush their enemies in battle.
These Days When Someone Uses the Term “Calisthenics”…
Up until recently, when I heard the term calisthenics…I thought of Junior High or Elementary School P.E. classes. What came to mind was push ups, jumping jacks, burpees, situps, etc.
I had images of awkward skinny kids with no muscle strength learning how to develop a tiny bit of base muscle (for some reason I think of white “tube socks” with two red stripes when I think of P.E…part of being a 70’s and 80’s kid). Once these kids became 16-17, they could then move on to something “real” like lifting weights for strength and conditioning. Well, my thinking has changed a bit.
A New Controversial Book That Has Changed My Thinking
Last month, I ordered a book called Convict Conditioningbecause it peaked my curiosity. I was hesitant to talk about it in detail on my blog…I just don’t want people to think I am glamorizing crime or think it is cool to “do time” (so I left this part out of the post until now).
That being said, this is by far (by a mile) the best book for gaining strength and muscle with body weight exercises. In fact this post is a summary of Coach Paul Wade’s approach to doing one-arm push ups.
He uses 10 steps, to get to the one-arm push up but the idea is the same. Again…if you can get over the name of the book, you will pleased with Convict Conditioning. It is right up there with Pavel’s Power to the People…which is probably my all-time favorite fitness book.
Why the Military Focuses Heavily on Calisthenics
As I mentioned before the Spartan warriors used calisthenics to create powerful bodies made for combat. So as far back as ancient times men and women were using calisthenics to create amazingly powerful and functional bodies.