Turkish Get-Ups: “Press at Every Step” Variation

Kettlebell Training

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) are one of the great kettlebell exercises.   Nevermind kettlebell exercises, they are one of the great movement training drills we’ve got.

When I am asked, “What are the best exercises I should be doing?”

Turkish Get-Ups are always a part of my answer.

This is a heavy question to ask and even heavier to answer.  Responses will differ depending who you’re asking but generally speaking, there is too much movement value, low risk and high reward with Turkish Get-Ups to leave it out.

Few other exercises provide the total body training effect of Turkish Get-Ups.  

Like any exercise, TGU’s have an infinite amount of variations, add-ons, and programming option (sets, reps, time, weight, etc).  Practicing variations is a nice way to introduce a movement challenge and avoid the onset of boredom.

Make no mistake, keeping training fresh is important across the long-term.

One of those variations is the “press at every step”.

This TGU variation involves performing five presses in the following positions:

  1.  Lying position.
  2.  Elbow support.
  3.  Hand support.
  4.  Half-keeling.
  5.  Standing.

Press #1:  Lying Position

FullSizeRender 3

This is the only true horizontal press of the five listed.  “Horizontal”, meaning you’re pressing from the back of the body to the front of the body (anterior to posterior then back to anterior again), similar to the mechanics of a traditional bench press.  Lower the weight down until the elbow makes light contact with the ground, pause, press back up.

Press #2: Elbow Support

FullSizeRenderPressing from the elbow support position will be a new experience for a lot of people.  Expect this to feel unnatural and use cautionary judgment with weight here.  The trajectory of the kettlebell is slightly different than any traditional pressing exercise. 

Press #3:  Hand Support

FullSizeRender

This body position will likely be the most awkward press of them all.  Remain rigid from waist to shoulder.  Naturally, your body is going to want to crease or your ribs are going to flail.  Avoid letting either happen.  Stay rigid and press! 

Press #4:  Half-kneeling

FullSizeRender 2

Training in the half-kneeling narrow stance position is a natural core blaster and can reveal side-to-side differences in symmetry.  You might be steady with the left knee up, but hardly maintain the position with the right knee up.

Turkish Get-Ups aside, half-kneeling pressing is a natural overhead pressing progression into the standing press.

Press #5:  Standing

FullSizeRender 5

Finally, standing at last.  In the world of “functional training”, this is as functional as it gets.  Pressing objects overhead is a common task in life.  Unfortunately, most of the objects pressed overhead in life aren’t evenly weighted with nice handles.

Here is a video of a full “Press at Every Step” Turkish Get-Up…

 

Whether you’re craving a movement challenge or simply a new variation of a timeless exercise, give this one a shot.  Be prepared for sore shoulders and core in the days that follow.  Five presses inside of each TGU repetition accumulates a lot of work for the upper extremities.  

For more great kettlebell exercise variations, I recommend two resources.  The first is a landmark book from the modern day Godfather of kettlebell training, Pavel Psatsouline.  There isn’t a kettlebell professional who hasn’t read Pavel’s ongoing work with kettlebell training.  

The second resource is a full training system from Chris Lopez designed to improve body composition using kettlebells, more specifically fat loss.  Kettlebells are unique in their ability to burn fat when used systematically.  Chris has published a number of kettlebell training programs focused on how to  “lean out” using kettlebells for quite some time.   

Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 10.17.51 AM

 

Most importantly, let me know how you made out with this TGU variation…

 

Cheers, 

Kyle

Carpet Slide Push-Ups (with reach)

How-To, Motion

A pair of carpet slides is an essential tool for every home gym.

Carpet slides add a new training dimension to a boat load of exercises. Slides can be used with exercises like reverse lunges, lateral lunges, crawling drills, hamstring curls, core work, and in this particular case, push-ups.

Probably best of all, they’re incredibly economical at $2-$7 for a pack of 3-4 sliders.  How?  The carpet slides marketed for fitness purposes are dangerously close in design and functionality to the furniture sliders available at your local home improvement store.

In the past, carpet slides have received the most attention when incorporated with lower body training.  Think hamstring curls and reverse lunges.

But carpet slides are extremely useful for upper body training also.  Using slides to introduce new variations of push-ups can be refreshing, and brutally challenging.

Carpet slide push-up variations are amazingly challenging.  Not everyone is ready for the coveted single arm push-up, and for those of you that are, maybe you’re looking for a new variation.  Something you can integrate into a work capacity circuit or load up with a weight vest and grind it out.

This is it.

Progression-wise, the carpet slide push-up w/ reach exists somewhere between a traditional two-arm push-up and full-blown single arm push-ups.

Some (not all) of the load is from the moving hand does take on some loading during the exercise, although this can be limited by the exercisee.

Exercise Technique…

 

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-8-17-59-am

  •  Begin in the top position of a push-up, hands centered on top of the sliders.
  •  Slowly lower yourself to the floor, hugging sliding the non-working arm out in front of your body.
  •  Keep the elbow of the working arm pulled into side body
  •  Pause briefly at the bottom, working elbow at 90 degrees.
  •  Press up and repeat on the other side, alternate for scheduled reps.

Workout Integration…

  •  Rep range:  6-12 reps per side with bodyweight, beyond than add more weight.
  •  Load:  Bodyweight until 12 reps are achieved, then add weight.
  •  Sets:  This depends on goals, 3-5 sets is plenty.
  •  Tempo:  Slow it down on the descent to the bottom, 3-5 seconds on the way down.
  •  Technique break down = rest

Where does this exercise belong?

The strategy of building fitness progressively from the ground up is awesome.  Your current fitness level and past training experience will determine how and where you place this exercise into a workout.

For some, this will be a strength training drill, you’ll need adequate rest after the set.  3 simple sets of 6-8 reps will leave you drained.  That is fine.  Beat on it for a few weeks, aim for improvement.  Expect to be sore through the chest and tender around the obliques in the coming days.

For others, the carpet slide push-up will provide a delightfully saucy challenge in a short burst metabolic training session.  I’ve worked it into a long circuit or kept it simple as part of a 3-exercise burner.

Here’s an example of where this exercise could live within a total body workout:

Alternating Split Squat Jumps x 8 each side

***Carpet Slide Push-Up (with forward reach) x 8 each side***

Airsquats x20 or Goblet Squats x8 (load up here)

Suspension Trainer Inverted Row x10 or 1-Arm Bent Rows x 8 each side

Own the exercise from top to bottom to top…

I have to admit I’ve seen several YouTube videos of carpet slide push-ups.  85-90% of the people in the videos are dropping into the bottom of the push-up too quickly.  More like falling into it.

Address the concept of OWNING the eccentric descent in this exercise.  Pause at the bottom, stay tighter than a pair of skinny jeans, contract and push up and out of it.

Again, slooooooowwww down, spend more time under tension and focus on remaining as rigid as possible.

At most, the descent into the bottom of the push-up should take 1-2 seconds, with NO bounce out of the bottom.  Pause at the bottom, hang out there.  Press out.  Strict.

Core training?  This is core training…

Without sounding like a physique zealot, because I’m not, this exercise provides an unbelievable stimulus to the core.  All without any bells and whistles, just basic rigid body position, technique, and gravity.

You won’t be able to execute as full extension carpet slide push-up without activating the torso aggressively.  It’s self-limiting.

To help make my point on how much core is involved with an exercise like this, drop down into a push-up position, raise one arm forward in full extension, while the other supports the body.

Stay in this position for time.  Just remain in that position without changing posture.

Too easy?  Inch the feet closer to together, narrow the base of support.  Any exercise can be made harder.

The challenge to the core during the carpet slide push-up with reach will be intense, felt from the hip flexors, through the torso, up to the collar-bone.

There will be a tremendous anti-rotation stimulus while supporting the body with one arm. Think about it for a second… the other half of the body wants to sag toward the floor (damn you gravity). Even with the sliding arm providing some assistance, your core will be lit up.

Maintaining a rigid body from head-to-heel is a must. Stay straight. Creating rigidity will require adequate tension through the mid-section.

Progression: Make it harder…

To increase the challenge, gradually lighten the hand contact of the sliding arm, which will lessen the amount of assistance from the sliding arm while increasing the load of the working arm.  Removing assistance from the sliding arm also drastically increases the amount anti-rotation stress as the exercise inches closer to a true single arm push-up.

Increasing the difficulty can be accomplished several ways, but the most honest approach would be to lessen the contact to just the fingertips.  Start with all five fingertips, progress to three fingers, two-fingers (thumb and pointer)… etc.

Before you know it, you’ll need a weight vest, at which point you’ll begin from the bottom rung of the progression once again, with palm firmly on the carpet slide.

Regression:  Make it easier…

To decrease the challenge, wrap a band around your torso and anchor the band to a point directly overhead.  The band will assist you during the hardest point of the exercise when you’ll need help the most.  For most, the hardest point will be the bottom of the push-up.

No carpet?  

Carpet slides work on hard surfaces also.  I’ve used them on hardwood and cement floors with great success.  Of course, this will limit the lifespan of the carpet slides, so if you’re going this route, purchase cheap slides at your local home improvement store.  A pack of carpet slides at Menard’s near me costs $2.99.  Cheap.

A suspension training set to the lowest possible height (without making contact with the floor) will also work.

The other option tools like the Ab DollyHAVYK Sliders, or a more budget friendly option like Core Coasters.  All have wheels which make them ideal tools for hard surfaces.  These options cost significantly more than the carpet slides, but you’ll find a plethora of uses for each, making them a worthy investment.

Early in the article, I suggestioned using furniture slides as a viable alternative to carpet slides designed for fitness.  There is a slight difference in my experience, being that fitness specific carpet slides typically have a much better integrity.  The manufacturers know that these are going to be used frequently, the design is more durable.

Here are some fitness carpet slides on Amazon.

No equipment at all?

Worst case scenario, I’ve done these push-ups without any tools period.  Doing so requires minimal weight on the sliding hand, but it works just the same.

User beware, going this route is intense.  There’s going to be way more friction on the floor  without a slide.  This is ok, just be aware that it might be too aggressive.

The end…

That’s all folks.  I’ve written too much already, way too much.

Give this baby a try.  Mix it in wherever you see fit.  Ask questions as you have them.

 

 

Kyle

 

 

 

Great Alternatives to Abdominal Crunches: Anti-Extension Roll Outs (aka: Ab Wheel Roll Outs)

Quick Tips

Crunches are dead?

It’s been said that traditional abdominal crunches are a dead exercise, and I mostly agree with this position.  Actually, I don’t think crunches are as bad as most people claim they are.  The micro-trauma to the lower back is definitely there and further shortening the abdominal muscles even more than they already are in people who sit a lot can be disastrous.

But the biggest issue that I have with crunches is that I have no idea what they are good for?  There are one of the most non-functional exercises I have ever seen.  Laying flat on your back, performing hundreds of tiny little crunches to make your belly burn is ridiculous to think about.  Flex, extend, flex extend, flex, extend.  My personal belief is if I cannot justify why I am including something in a workout, than it should be discarded immediately.  I cannot justify crunching.

I’ve transitioned my stance on crunches to the following statement:  “I don’t hate crunches, but I do think there are much better alternatives to the traditional crunch that deserve exploring”.

Websites and magazines that are bashing crunches rarely provide any alternatives in their articles.  If you’re going to tell the world how shitty an exercise is, tell us what to do instead.  Ranting about how shitty crunches are isn’t doing anything for anyone.  Sure, maybe you’ll raise some awareness to the cause, but help us find a better solution to the problem.  

Building on that point, simply naming an alternative isn’t enough.  You have to not only identify a better alternative, but then teach people how to properly execute that alternative.  This is a value that I really want to provide on this blog moving forward.  No secrets or Jedi mind tricks, just good information that you can apply immediately.

Video: Anti-extension roll outs look like this:

What it is: Anti-extension roll outs are a core exercise variation for the anterior (front) of your torso, which as the names implies, are designed to reinforce your body’s ability to resist falling into extension.  If you watch the video above, you can see how gravity wants to pull my body towards the floor as I roll out further into extension.

How to do it: The cues for an exercise like this are rather simple.  Actively pressurize and brace your core prior to initiating any movement.  As you begin to roll out, consciously avoid breaking at the lower back while maintaining a straight line from knees to the top of my head.  Doing this makes this exercise very challenging, especially as you increase the distance that the hands travel away from your knees, which increases the range of motion.

Regressions: How to make ab roll outs easier:  If you’re a beginner or simply lack the strength and the stability to execute a full roll out, fear not because there are several options to acclimate yourself to this exercise.  The first option would be to roll out on an incline, which would ease you into extension and also give you momentum as your return back to the start position.  The second option would be to roll out toward a wall, having the wall provide a contact stopping point when the wheel hits the wall.  This is a great option because you can be extremely precise with the distance the wheel travels, progressing each week as you gain strength and stability.

Progressions: How to make ab roll outs harder: If you’re strong, there are several progressions to make this exercise killer.  The first option is to roll out on a decline.  The decline will cause the wheel (and your body) to gain momentum and travel faster away from the knees, and also make it more difficult to return to the start position.  In other words, the extension part of the exercise and the contraction back to start part of the exercise both become more challenging.  The second option is to anchor one end of a resistance band to an immovable object- like a bench, squat rack or door- and loop the other end around the handles of the ab wheel.  The band provides forces that act to pull you into extension sooner, and also gives added resistance on the return to the start position.  This is a flat ground variation of the decline roll out.

If you’re really a stud, forget about rolling out on your knees.  Stand up and roll out from there.  Yup, that’s correct, you’re going to start bent over with your hands on the wheel, rolling out slowly until you reach full extension- arms extended above the head and chest facing the floor- and then return without any break of the lower back.  I would say that 1-2% of the population will be able to execute a technically acceptable standing roll out.  But hey, it’s something to work toward.

When and where to do it:  Core training can happen wherever you want it to in a workout.  Beginning, middle or end, it doesn’t matter much in my mind.  If you’re especially weak in the mid-section, you might want to save your ab rollouts for the end of the workout so that it doesn’t adversely effect any of your other lifts.  Adding rollouts to a tri-set is very time effective and keeps the pace of the workout high.  It would look something like this:

1a)  Squat

2a)  Chin Up

3a)  Anti-Extension Rollouts

You’d work from 1a to 2a to 3a, then after finishing 3a, you repeat the process until you finish the sets you’ve got planned for the workout.

As for sets and reps, it’s dependent on your current fitness level.  However, ideally you can get 2-4 sets of 8-10 reps for each set, using a 30X0 tempo on the movement itself.  What does 30X0 mean?

3 – The number of seconds that it takes to go from the start position into full extension (end range of motion).

0- The number of seconds spent at end range of motion.

X- The speed with which you return, which in this case “X” means explode.

0- The seconds spent at the starting position of the exercise

Exercise tempo has great influence on the training effect of an exercise.  Time spent under tension is important to exhibit body control in space and also to develop useful lean muscle.  Increasing the time that your core musculature are aggressively contracted will work wonders in your quest to achieve elusive six-pack abs.

My personal take on six-pack abs:  They should be a reward for smart training, never the sole goal of working out in the first place.  If you are doing the right things- eating smart and training smarter- anyone can have a six-pack without putting much thought into it.

Some professionals have included roll outs into circuits, but I am not a fan.  Core training is extremely detailed training.  You should be nearly fully recovered before starting each set.  Fatigue is an exercise technique killer, so I haven’t found intra-circuit ab roll outs to be very smart.  I’d rather save my core work for the end of the training session, when all of my energy and attention can be directed to executing each rep with perfect, or near perfect form.  This is just a personal preference based on my experiences.

—> Other variations I have played with:

Half/quarter reps:  These are more challenging than you might think because your core gets no relief from contraction by going half-way out.  It is tough to stop the movement short and bring it back in.  Sometimes I will execute a full rep roll out, come back in  half way, then go back out to full extension in an alternating fashion.  Your abdominals will be on fire in short time by doing this.

Right/Left roll outs:  Instead of going dead center, roll slightly left and right of your body, alternating every rep.

Decreased base of support:  Instead of supporting on two knees, remove one from the ground surface.  As you roll out, hover one knee above the ground as the other knee supports.  This is extremely challenging.

Slow reps:  Instead of 3 seconds on the way out, make it last 10+ seconds.  This is tough.  Or, make the roll out last 5 seconds, hold extension for 5 seconds, roll back for 5 seconds.  That’s 15 seconds of TUT (time under tension).  1-3 reps of this will make your muscles tremble.

Equipment Substitutions:  While the anti-extension roll out is most commonly executed using an ab wheel, it doesn’t have to be.  Suspension trainers, carpet slides, physic-balls, barbells, ab dollys, power wheels, etc.  I won’t go into detail here because I could write 4 more posts about awesome exercise variations.  I’ll get this done for you.

Here is a clip of what suspension trainer variation:

Anti-extension roll outs are an effective exercise for building the core aesthetically and reinforcing important functional features of the torso muscles.  It’s important to be able to resist forces (known or unknown) that act on the body.  The core is the conduit that connects the upper and lower halves of the body.  It’s important to be mindful of building the core to preserve body health and also to take your performance to another level.  As we age, it is also important to keep the core functioning as it should to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary injuries.

Cheers to more effective core training!

KG

Want to Train Your Core?

Core Training

The Summer months provide an incredible time to get outside and move around.

Whether you are going for an after dinner walk, a 30 mile bike ride, or throwing your suspension trainer around branch and working through a bodyweight circuit, the weather is perfect for exercise and building a lean body.

Core training will always be a popular topic.  I have come to grips with that.

When people think of individuals that are fit, they often picture a lean muscular body and …

… abdominals.

Right?!

It’s true though.  I have to say that I don’t think that core training is bad, I just think that we need to bring some clarity to what constitutes safe and effective core training and also how to unveil your hidden six-pack.

What is safe?

Well, safe core training today is heavily based on the landmark research coming from Stuart McGill and others.  Their recommendations is this… spare your spine!  By spine sparing, we need to train the  torso musculature to stabilize the spine, protect it, and serve as the transfer zone between the upper and lower body.

The abdominals are mainly built to STOP motion, not create motion.

Safe core training IS NOT CRUNCHES.

Safe core training IS NOT partner leg throws.

Safe core training is not cable crunches, or whatever this guy is doing below…

Enter:  The Slosh Pipe

The picture above is a 9ft PVC slosh pipe will 2/3 full with water.  The PVC is 3″ in circumference and the pipe weighs around 30-32lbs.

You might be saying, “That’s not a lot of weight”.

That is what I thought.  Until I picked it up and nearly face planted from the instability of the water thrashes left/right inside of the pipe.

For around $20 and 5 minutes of assembly, anyone can build a slosh pipe.  Yes, it is 9ft tall so it may not be realistic for everyone if you don’t have somewhere to store it.  Consider that before purchasing.

I first met the slosh pipe 5 years ago.  It was one of the toughest workouts I had ever engaged in.  The worst part was how simple the workout was…

  • Pick up the slosh pipe and walk as far as possible.
  • Put the slosh pipe down and recover.

It kicked my ass.  My body was on fire from reacting and correcting instability of the pipe.  I walked Zercher style, across my shoulders and finally with arms extending overhead.  I loved it.  Reactive core training at it’s best.

Just another simple example of a piece of home equipment that can be made in a matter of minutes for a minimal monetary investment.

***  If you are worried about what people think when they see you walking around with it… don’t worry… most people don’t think much anyways.  At least you took the initiative to get off your ass 🙂