How to Make Bodyweight Push-Ups and Squats Exercises Harder

Motion

Bodyweight-based exercises can (and should be) progressed similar to traditional resistance-based exercises.

The SAID Principle (specific adaptations to imposed demands) applies to everything done in the gym.

Cardio, weight training, Yoga, stretching and mobility work.

If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you alway got.  

In other words, gains will come to a screaching halt when your body becomes efficient at handling the stress being placed upon it.  

And to be clear, developing efficiency is not a bad thing.  You don’t want every physical experience in life to redline your system.  

We attack goals in the gym so the sub-maximal events of real life seem easy.  

Anyways, with bodyweight trainig, more specifically push ups and squats, one simple, effective and resourceful way to make impressive gains in strength and coordination and progress is to pursue unilateral variations.  

One arm push ups and single leg squats.  

More pressure must be applied o achieve the next set of goals.  

Switch things up, bust out of the comfort zone and embrace the next challenge.  It’s the only way to move forward

A simple and effective way bust progression bodyweight exercises is by transitioning the exertion from 2 limbs to 1 limb.  

Bilateral to unilateral.  

The squat pattern goes from a traditional bilateral air squat to a single leg squat, sometimes referred to as “pistol squats”.

2-arm push ups transition to 1-arm push ups.  

Single arm push ups are one of my favorite upper body strength builders.  I avoided them for a really long time because they seemed like a circus exercise.  

When I committed to more palatable progressions leading to the single-arm push-up, my opinion changed completely.

Single limb training makes SO MUCH SENSE.  

A lot of life and sport require single limb performance.  Yes, ideally we execute tasks using two arms and two legs, but it’s not always the situation.

Walking, running and climbing stairs are great examples of where single leg performance shines.  

Plus, training one side at a time can reveal some major asymmetries that you otherwise wouldn’t notice.  

One-arm push-ups are also secretly one of the great core training exercises.   

It’s amazing how incredibly sore the torso musculature can be in the days following one arm push up training.  The obliques in particular.  Tender to the touch.  

Side-note:  Mobility training with change your life…

MyMobilityDaily.com

If you desire ongoing progress from your workout time, increasing the challenge steadily is a necessity.

The human body is a brilliant adaptation machine.  It will reshape, re-organize, re-calibrate in order to adapt to stress.

Activities that once seemed impossible become possible through the process.

Fitness is amazing when you think about it from that perspective.

If you’re willing to put in the time and work, you can have ANY result you want.

We, adults, need these reminders.

You were born to move, move well and move A LOT.

Anyways, nothing creates enormous self-inflicted frustration like performing the same exercise for the same reps/sets/tempo day in and day out and expecting a different outcome.

It’s like smashing your hand with a hammer over and over, expecting the next impact to feel good versus elicit extreme pain.

The body becomes so efficient that it’s no longer work.

And it’s not your body’s fault for having this built-in efficiency mechanism.  Building efficiency is a good thing.  We don’t always want to feel like we are redlining the system while doing basic tasks.

Push-ups and squats are two essential exercises that can add value to anyone’s workout regimen.

One effective way to progress the basic bodyweight exercises like the push-up or squat is by migrating toward single limb variations, also referred to as unilateral training.

Unilateral exercise = one arm or leg does all the work
Bilateral exercise = two arms/legs do all the work

Bilateral exercises distribute the weight evenly between both limbs.  Each leg is moving 50% of the load.

Unilateral training requires one limb to move the entire load through the range of motion.

In addition, decreasing the base of support creates a significant balance challenge that amplifies as the muscles tire during the work set.

Indirectly, one arm push-ups rank extremely high on the effective core training exercise list.

I would put one arm push-ups up against almost any other isolated core exercise.

Maintaining rigidity from head to heel will blow apart your mid-section. Expect soreness in the days following.

People often get confused with how to make bodyweight-based exercises harder, often opting to add reps versus increase the load. High repetition work sets can provide benefit, but transitions the effort toward work capacity and endurance gains, versus strength.

Endurance training = higher repetitions, low load, and extended work sets.

The lower the load, the more reps can be achieved because the muscles are challenged as aggressively.

I’m not bashing endurance-oriented training.  It certainly has it’s benefits.  I actually engage in aerobic-based training 2-3 days per week, which is night and day different from what I used to employ for cardio training.  It used to be high-intensity intervals all day every day.

But that isn’t sustainable, and I think for a lot of people it’s doing more harm than good, despite the same EPOC after-burn studies authors keep twisting and referencing in their books.

In the time it takes to burn an extra 100 calories via blowing my body apart in a HIIT session, I’ll instead choose to take 3 fewer bites of calorie-dense food.

Talk about time savings.

Anyways…

… a lot of people use the wrong rep and loading schemes to achieve goals.

You can dig a 20-yard trench with a screwdriver.

However, we can both agree there are probably better tools for the job.

High repetition/low load work sets will do very little to increase strength.

You might feel tired with burning muscles, but increased strength is not the end-product of these efforts. 

For now, ditch the high rep/low load schemes.  Increase the loading, lower the reps, take more rest, get aggressive.

If building lean muscle and optimize movement is of interest to you, is strength is a critical physical characteristic to improve.

This is a blind and generalized statement, but I do honestly believe most people would be happier with results (both from a time investment and effort perspective) from gym work if steps were taken to increase the intensity/loading of the exercise, versus piling on more volume.

Unilateral training is a great way to do this.

A large chunk of life’s daily tasks requires single limb performance.

Why not load unilateral movements during workouts?

It’s resourceful, both from an equipment and time standpoint.

The return on investment is significant.

One-arm push-ups and one leg squats effectively increase the load of the working limb while simultaneously decreasing the base of support.

Transitioning from bilateral to unilateral squat requires navigating instability through the range of motion.

The stabilizing muscles of the hips have to get involved, the intrinsic muscles of the feet contribute as well.  Yes, your feet have muscles and they are vitally important. 

Staying balanced on the way down and up is difficult.

In time with practice and exposure to the balance requirements of single leg squats, your body will develop an understanding of how remain stable on each repetition.

Adaptation is a beautiful thing, but it takes time, patience and plenty of practice.  A lot of people give up before known benefits have time to take shape.

In the beginning, bodyweight alone will be sufficient to receive a training effect for single limb exercises.

But in time, the body will become efficient and adding weight, adjusting the tempo or increasing reps will become necessary for further gains.

Don’t underestimate the impact of adding 3-5 seconds to the eccentric descent of an exercise.  It will humble the hard asses of the world, and it takes discipline to slow down the tempo of a movement to savor the pain.

The nice part about adding load to unilateral exercises is you shouldn’t need much weight to challenge yourself.  Adding 10-15lbs in the form of a kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, small child or a spare weight plate will be enough to shock the system.

Add enough weight to challenge the movement, but not so much that it degrades technical form and posture.

In a real-world chaotic situation, anything goes to survive.  In the controlled environment of the gym, form matters.

The end goal of exercising is betterment, not injury and regression.

Compared to the sheer amount of equipment needed to strength training using bilateral squats, single-leg training can be very resourceful.  Very little goes a long way.

 

A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part 1

Core Training

Direct core training is an essential part of any workout program. 

The fitness industry gets into highschool level fights over whether direct core training necessary, but since I believe in training the entire body…

…. core training is a must.  

Boom. 

In a way, if your core sucks, you suck.

A strong core protects the spine and serves as a conduit for force transmission between the upper and lower body.  

Ground reaction forces travel from the feet, up through the mid-section and out through body tips of the fingers.

Highly controversial fitness trainer Uncle David Weck taught me that.  

If the muscles that wrap around the torso are weak or under-performing, energy leaks and both performance and function can suffer.  

A strong bodies has a strong core.

A balanced, comprehensive approach to core focused training will calbrate the body to properly absorb force and produce force in all planes of movement.

This is a giant list, so let’s not waste any more time.  

Here are 15 different core based exercises worth slipping into your next workout…  

1.  Anti-Extension Roll Outs (Ab Wheel Roll Outs) 

For $15 on Amazon, you can purchase an Ab Wheel Roller.  Ab Wheel Roll Outs are anti-extension core exercise, great for building not only core strength but core endurance.  

In a tall kneeling position, slowly roll out way from the knees. 

During this rollout motion, cue your hips to fall outward at the same pace as the upper body. 

Roll as far out as you can control.  If the lower back caves, you’ve gone to far.  

Pull yourself back in using your mid-section, lats and pec muscles (gripping the handles hard). 

During the most difficult portion of the roll-out,  “hollow” out the mid-section. 

The hollow body position tucks the ribs down while the navel curls toward the ribs.  The result is a curved body shape or the “hollow” body.  

 

2.  Turkish Get-Ups 

As far as productivity and global training effect, Turkish Get Ups (TGUs) are hard to beat. 

Turkish Get Ups are a total body exercise. 

The goal of the Turkish Get Up is to transition from a lying position (supine) to a standing position, reverse the order and return back to the original lying position.

Controlling the weight during the up-down sequence is fatiguing not only for the core but for the loaded shoulder as well. 

Turkish Get Ups are best performed with kettlebells or dumbbells, though nearly any object of weight can be substituted.  I’ve used sandbags, liquid filled milk cartons, barbells, weight vests, shoes, and weight plates to name a few.  

Turkish Get Ups are best learned by isolating and practicing each segment.  

Stabilizing the weight overhead is can be draining for the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder.  However, the time spent in this over-chest/over-head position is fantastic for building shoulder stability, which can help with injury mitigation and performance.  

Standing up and laying back down equals one rep.

Sidenote:  I’ve used Turkish Get Ups as my “workout of the day” for years.  I set a timer (10, 15, 20 minutes) and alternate sides until the timer sounds. 

I use a variety of weights during this time, work several repetitions in a row without putting the weight down or mix up the way I stand up and lay back down for variation (squat, lunge, etc).  I’ve added a simple press at each of the 7 steps, performed kettlebell swings cleans and snatches at the halfway point (standing position).

3.  Dragon Flags

Iconic martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee made Dragon Flags famous.

 

Dragon Flags (and variations) are one of my favorite core exercises. 

Why?  Because they’re hard as hell!  

Dragon Flags require a tremendous amount of effort and total body tension.  

Ly on your back, grab onto a bench, squat rack, heavy sandbag or any other immovable object with the hands positioned above the head. 

Raise the feet up to the ceiling.  Making the body as straight as possible from ankles to shoulders, begin lowering to the floor.

SLOW IT DOWN, resist gravity’s pull.

Working the descent of the dragon flag is known as the “eccentric”.  For beginners, only focusing on quality eccentrics is just fine.  

If you’re feeling strong, Advanced Trainees can reverse the eccentric and ascend back to the top. 

Do not lose the straight line from head to toe.

After listening to Gymnastics Bodies founder Coach Christopher Sommer’s podcasts with Tim Ferriss, I dropped Dragon Flags into my workouts as a mainstay core conditioning exercise.  

You can find smart dragon flag exercise regressions and progressions from Global Bodyweight Training.  

4.  Dynamic Plank Variations 

Planks are a fundamental static core drill and a position worth exploring. 

The video demonstrates rotational side planks.  

I use these (and many other plank variations) frequently. 

Reps, sets and time to hold each plank exercise is a highly debated topic. 

If you can comfortably hold a plank for 90-120 seconds without strain, you’re likely wasting your time and the return on effort has diminished. 

Move on to more challenging core work. 

4. Crawling

Crawling is a critical component for early childhood physical development, but also effective for building strength and conditioning in the gym.   

The more “adult” we become, the more we move away from activities we engaged in as kids.  

This is de-evolution.  It’s not good.  

You either use it, or you lose it.  

And as adults, we tend to move less and less with age, and if we do move, it’s generally isolated to linear walking or machine-based cardio.   

Adults need to revisit moving like they did when they were kids.  

Get on the floor and crawl.  

5.  Lizard Crawl 

The Lizard Crawl is an advanced crawling pattern and probably the king of all ground-based crawling variations.  

Ground-based conditioning is bodyweight training with no equipment needed.  

6.  Offset/Asymmetric Pressing and Holds 

Grab a dowel, barbell or a stronger broomstick. 

Dangle an object (with a handle) like a kettlebell or wrap a resistance band on one end. 

Now, press or hold that dowel without changing body position or allow the object to slip off.  Confused?  Me too.  Watch the video above and it will all make more sense.

Objects we encounter in life are rarely perfectly balanced. 

Weight is often distributed unevenly, which means we have to adapt to awkward loads, recalibrate on the fly and push on.  

7.  One Arm Push Ups 

A lesson in indirect core training, one arm push-ups will challenge the muscles of the midsection better than 95% of core based exercises. 

One-arm push-ups train single arm pressing strength like few other exercises.  

Global Bodyweight Training does a great job laying out exercise progressions leading to the one arm push up.

8.  L-Sits (all variations)

L-Sits are a beginner exercise in the gymnastics training realm. 

Very humbling to think about it with that perspective, since L-Sits are a tough ass exercise.  

Creating an “L” between your upper body and lower body (at the hips) extremely taxing for the hip flexors and lower abdominal muscles.  

Starting out, you’ll have to dial back the duration of your L-Sit efforts to 5-10 seconds of work, with plenty of rest between each effort.   

In time, the duration of the hold will increase as your body adapts to the demands.

Of all of the basic gymnastics postures, I have found L-Sits to be an absolute game-changer for building core strength. 

Including L-Sits in my workouts, 2-3 times per week has increased my hold duration time from a few mediocre sets of 10-15 seconds to 30+ seconds with legs moving above parallel.  

9.  Arch Body Holds 

Lay on the floor face down, arms and legs stretched out straight above/below. 

Lift the upper body and lower body at the same time, arching your back toward your butt.

Hold this Superman-like position for 5-10 seconds and release back to the floor. 

Repeat for repetitions.  

Progress Arch Body Holds by increasing the time of the hold.  

10.  Hollow Body Variations (rocking and static holds) 

Hollow body holds (progressing into rocking) conditioning the entire front side of the body, from fingertips to toe tips.

The quads, diaphragm, abdominals, hip flexors all get some love during hollow body training.

11.  Toes to Bar

Toes to Bar improves core strength, midline endurance while improving grip, shoulder health and back performance. 

Prolonged hanging from a bar, branch or anything overhead is therapeutic for the upper body.  

There are few different variations of the Toes to Bar exercise, kipping (ballistic) or strict.  

12.  Bridging 

Bridging is can help offset the modern-day desk warrior posture.  

Following the lead-up bridge positions and working shoulder and mid-back mobility, hip flexor flexibility and glute strength can inch you closer to a full bridge.

I’d also suggest training active mobility.  

MyDailyMobility is a follow-along mobility program with updated workouts every week.  Taking the time to train mobility will bulletproof joints against injury and increase performance. 

Once you’re able to hold a static high bridge for 45-60 seconds, start exploring adding the rotational piece into the bridge movement.  

13.  Dynamic High Plank Exercises (pull-throughs, push-pull) 

14.  Landmine Grapplers

The landmine trainer provides the opportunity to train many angled exercises and rotational exercises not possible without the pivoting sleeve.  

If you’ve got access to a barbell and a few weight plates, you can start training landmine exercises right away.  

Wrapping an old towel around one end of the barbell can protect your walls from damage.  Or, several fitness companies have manufactured inexpensive landmine trainers well worth the money in my opinion.

👇 How to perform a landmine grappler 👇

Arc (ascend) the barbell up and through the midline of the body.  

Once the barbell passes through the midline, it will begin to arc (descend) down to the same start position on the opposite side of the body.  

The challenge at this point in the movement is decelerating the barbell quickly.  

Landmine grapplers are fantastic for training rotational force production and absorption.  

During a work set, you quickly toggling the switch between creating force and absorbing it.  

Landmine grapplers have great carryover to athletics and daily living.  

Plus most workout programs are deficient when it comes to rotational training.

Landmine grapplers check ✔️  the box. 

Use moderate weight to start.

The weight of the barbell may be enough to elicit a training effect to start.  Add weight slowly as you gain efficiency and strength.

Sets and reps will vary, but 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side is a good start.  

It really depends on the weight you’re using.  

Lighter weight = explosive movement and more reps.

Heavier weight = grinding movement and fewer reps.

15.  Slosh Pipe Exercises

The water inside of the pipe is unpredictable and free moving. 

Tilt the slosh pipe an inch below level, the water begins to run, the balance of the pipe changes and your body must react to this change. 

There’s very little relaxation time during a set of slosh pipe exercises since the water is never completely balanced inside the pipe. 

The big issue with slosh pipe training is the size of the slosh pipe.  It needs to be quite long, which isn’t always feasible while training indoors.  

For the home gym, a water-filled slosh training bag is a great alternative.

Whewwwww!

Want to see more core exercises?  

Check out Part II and Part III of this series:

Useful Exercises to Help Build the Lizard Crawl Pattern

Ido Portal

FullSizeRender

The Lizard Crawl is one of the most challenging crawling patterns.  

Aggressive joint angles, timing and coordination of the limbs along with a massive muscular demand make the lizard crawl pretty brutal in the beginning.  

The challenge is far beyond standard crawling patterns.  

Not all that long ago, I was a beginner with the lizard crawl.

The pattern was pretty sloppy for a long time.  I was inefficient and felt out of control.  

Inefficiency with movement might be great for burning calories, but it’s a bumpy road when you’re trying to build the pattern.  

On the road to preparing my body for the demands of the lizard crawl, several key exercise regressions played a significant role.  and this blog post directed at the beginner looking to learn more.

The goal of this article is to provide several launch points to work up into the full Lizard Crawl.  

Each Lizard Crawl exercise progression is designed to provide a gentle introduction to the body position and loading.

A full-blown Lizard Crawl has a deceptive number of moving parts moving and requires plenty of mental processing and physical capability.  

Exercises

The full lizard crawl requires:

👉 Mobility

👉 Upper body and core strength

👉 Coordination and timing

Improving control over shoulder range of motion is important for lizard crawling and beyond.  

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint and should be able to move freely, but with control.  

When the shoulder joint lacks mobility or control over range of motion, problems can surface.  

Shoulder CARs

Controlled articular rotations are a mobility exercise that great for daily shoulder “hygiene”. 

I like to perform 8-10 reps per side each workout, which means every day.  Yes, every single day.  

Mobility training is a critical component of fitness, yet, training mobility like you would strength or endurance is a relatively new to a lot of people.  

My friends over at MyDailyMobility created daily mobility workouts to introduce people to effective mobility training that’ll expand your range of motion and help control what you’ve already got.  Check it out

Upper body strength is essential for the lizard crawl.  If you lack upper body strength, the full lizard crawl will be impossible.  

Regular push-ups are a great place to start.  You should be able to perform 15-20 bodyweight push-ups without rest.

From there, progress the bodyweight push-ups by adding weight.  The weight can be in the form of a weight plate, sandbag, chains, weightvest, backpack loaded iwth gear, etc.  Whatever you’ve got. 

Weighted Push-Ups

You’ll have to reduce the reps per set once you add weight, and consider lengthening the rest periods to recover from each effort.  

Start with 10-20lbs of additional weight and work up from there.  Stay rigid from head to heel.  

Sets/Reps:  3-5 sets of 5-6 reps.  (the last rep should suck)

Next, it’s time for a gradual transition into single-arm push-up variations.  

Single-arm push-ups are an incredible exercise for building pressing and core strength.

I really like this carpet slide push-up variation.

Carpet Slide Push-Up w/ Reach

Carpet Slide Push-Ups increase the load on the working arm, provide practice of reaching the non-working hand out to move forward (as you would in the full lizard crawl) while introducing a less stable position for the core to sort out.

Your mid-section will probably be sore after a carpet slide push-ups.

Gradually decrease hand pressure on the carpet slide, eventually removing the slide completely, just lightly sliding the hand across the floor surface.

Sets/Reps: 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps.  

*** The rep range is pretty broad, but keep pressing until you feel posture begin to break down. At that point, end the set and rest. 

Core Training

The lizard crawl will put your core strength, endurance and function to the test.  

Here are 3 different exercises to integrate into your workouts.

Core Rolling Patterns

Rolling patterns are exercises you have to try to truly understand how draining they can be.  When you take most of the momentum out of rolling, you’re rolling over with subtle movements from your mid-section.  

Very humbling drills. 

Sets/Reps:  Roll 360 degrees, than roll back to the start.  Go by feel here, this exericse can be self-limiting, as in you’ll burn out won’t be able to complete a full revolution. 

Hollow Body Rocks

Turn yourself into a banana and keep that position while you rock like a rocking chair.  

Sets/Reps:  3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. 

Dragon Flag Variations

Dragon flags are one of the best core strengtheners I know.   

Sets/Rep:  3 sets of 5-8 reps.

Lizard 🦎  Looking Exercises

For beginners, breaking the lizard crawl up into sections and training each section works well.

I like to start introducing the coordination and timing aspect of the lizard crawl by practicing non-moving variations. 

First, become familiar with what the low position feels like, because it is different. 

Push-Up with Alternating Foot Placement

The goal of this first drill is to practice the feel of the lizard crawl while reducing the amount of strength needed to do so.  

Using two arms into the descent accomplishes this.  

👉 Step the foot up to the outside of the hand and plant.

👉 Lower down into and out of a push-up.  

👉 Return to high plank position.

Don’t forget to relax the jaw and breathe.

Sets/Reps:  3-4 sets of 6-10 per side

Alternating Lower-Body Step and Reach

👉 Starting in a high plank position, step one foot to the outside of the same side hand.  (The side you step to will be opposite of the working arm)

👉 Slowly lower your chest to 1-2 inches above the floor.

👉 With feather light pressure, slide the unloaded hand out into full extension. 

👉 Pause for a moment, breathe, feel the position.

👉 Slide the hand back in, return the foot and press up to the high plank.  

Sets/Reps:  3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on each side. 

Dynamic Crawling Variations

The next step in the process is to start moving around.  

Building up strength is important, but it’s time to dive into crawling.  

Crawling can be a humbling activity, especially for adults.  

We think of it as something exclusive to babies or when your TV remote slides underneath the couch, but crawling is a great coordination and conditioning activity.  

Check out this post to learn more about some great crawling patterns. 

Final thoughts…

Quiet foot and hand contacts with the floor surface is a pretty good indication you own a movement.  

Breathing is another good indicator.  Clenched jaw, holding the breath?  I’d bet you don’t own that position yet.  Ask any Yoga instructor.  

Give each of these exercises a shot and be mindful of what’s taking place as you practice.  

The secret sauce to progress is disciplined effort and consistency.  

Practice hard and in time you’ll get the results you’re after.

Just Bodyweight Exercise

Quick Tips

Bodyweight training is making a serious comeback in my own training habits.

It’s easy to forget about how effective bodyweight exercise is.

I’m guilty of it for sure. But I’ve recently returned to what I consider the foundation of all exercise, basic bodyweight training. “Basic” doesn’t mean easy. Single leg squats, single arm push ups, hybrid pulling movements, handstands and crawling variations are some of the most challenging movements in the exercise rolodex. Especially when you hold yourself to strict technique.

Workout equipment is always going to be evolving and innovating, but the idea that you can get a highly effective workout anywhere and anytime is incredibly valuable.

The rules of bodyweight training don’t differ much from more traditional forms of resistance based training. There are advantages/disadvantages and sacrifices to every form of exercise when you think about it, and bodyweight strength and conditioning is no different.

Nearly all of the major movement patterns are present: pulling, pushing, squatting, lunging along with various forms of cardiovascular conditioning such as running, hybrid movements like burpees, mountain climbers, and crawling.

I used the word “nearly” in the previous sentence because there is still no viable way to load the hip hinging pattern using just bodyweight. Deadlifts are still a no go, especially if you are staying minimalist with your definition of bodyweight training.

However, since the rise of glute thrusts and other glute activation drills, strengthening the backside without equipment seems feasible. Progression is the key here, especially since many strong individuals will find that the double leg versions of bodyweight hip bridging and bodyweight hip thrusts just don’t load the backside enough.

Progressing to a single leg version of the hip thrust is the ticket here. Go for increased reps, slow the tempo of movement down or hold the top (lockout) position for time.

Let’s not forget about the vast amount of abdominal focused training that bodyweight exercise has to offer. Plank variations, hollow body rocks, crawling, slow mountain climbers and hanging leg raises are all incredibly challenging exercise when performed with strict technique and adequate time under tension.

Progressing the intensity -and therefore the training effect of bodyweight exercises- can also provide a unique challenge.

Knowing when to increase reps, increase time under tension, increase the intensity and skill challenge of a movement pattern all come into play here.

Single arm push ups are a great example here. The transition from a traditional push up to a single arm push up is drastic when it comes to the increasing demands in stability and loading. There is also a grooving issue early on, where the body simply hasn’t been exposed to what’s required physically to complete a quality rep/set of single arm push ups.

In these situations, I will either break up the movement or add assistance in the form of a resistance band.

Breaking up the exercise into its segments typically involves working the eccentric portion of the exercise first.

So, for the single arm push up, I will focus on the lowering portion (eccentric) exclusively for a few weeks, or until I have developed the control, strength and stability to progress to adding the concentric (ascending back to the top) portion of the exercise. Eccentric training isn’t sexy and even 3-5 seconds of lowering can feel like an eternity, but it’s a gateway method to arrive at the next logical progression of an exercise.

If you have access to a resistance band, you can loop it around your chest and receive assistance during key moments of the lift. For a single arm push up, it can be challenging to push out of the bottom of the exercise, and this is where the band assistance technique works wonders. Since the band will be stretched to the maximum at the bottom of the push up, you’ll receive the most assistance where it’s needed most.

Band assistance is fantastic for working up to chin ups, pulls ups and single leg squats.

If you’re looking for a simple yet effective bodyweight training session, try this one…

Set #1:
10 push ups
10 squats
10 hollow rocks
—> Repeat for 5 rounds, or work continuously for 10 minutes w/o rest.

Set #2:
10 chin ups
10 lunges (right/left)
10 yards and back crawling

Conditioning:
10 burpees every minute on the minute for 10 rounds.

Adjust the progression of each exercise to fit your strength and skill level. Everything can be adapted to your needs.

Leave the workout feeling invigorated and empowered knowing that you can handle your bodyweight…

Cheers to bodyweight training!

KG