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4 Basic Exercises to Kickstart Your Summer Program

We have 4 favorite exercises, isn't that exciting? Well If you were to ask us, it most definitely is. These 4 basic exercises has been a key in our programming over the past 15 years and we are extremely excited to share them with you. Now, I know you've probably heard of them before, so there is no real need for a sparkly introduction. With that being, said we wouldn't want to bore you with the same'ol shenanigans you are use to hearing when fitness coaches/trainers talk about what will and will not work in the weight room to help you reach your goals. Good news is, there is no need for a weight room when it comes to these 4 fat burning, muscle building, hard core to the bone exercises. With these, bodyweight will do, and trust us when when say that bodyweight is enough. Calisthenics, maybe...but we like to think of them more as natural loading. Let's kickstart your summer program today ! Drumroll please...

So first off,

We have the Eccentric Push up. This I mostly about time under tension. If you've tried to build muscle in the past, this is most likely what you have heard. To build muscle or strength, it takes time. Well, that is true to some respect. But the time we are talking about is the tempo at which you perform the push up...not the overall time it will take you to build that muscle. To perform this exercise correctly with the intent to gain strength or muscle, you want to use a 4/2/1 tempo or a 2/0/2 tempo to maximize that time under tension and see those gains you've been looking for. This means (in a push up position) you want to lower you body towards the ground using a 4 second count, hold the lowest position for 2 seconds, and explode up to starting positon for the 1 second. You would use the same method with the 2/0/2 count if looking to gain muscle size. Another benefit of the the eccentric push up, is that allows us to hold ourselves in the prone iso position for some time, so for all of you avid plankers out there...that is the reason you won't see this exercise on this list. But if you can add some plank holds into your pushes, you get some extra credit.

Secondly, since we are working bilateral strength here, lets turn this to a lower body exercise. Adopting the same or very similar tempo, let's perform a squat motion to get the same benefits as we do with the upper body dominant exercise, to our lower extremities. This is a low and slow exercise, lowering your body slowly for a 4 count (elbows to knees) and holding for two seconds in that deep squat position. After the two second hold you will explode back up with one big (one count) push back to start counting that as one repetition. Perform this exercise for 8-20 reps depending on your decision to incorporate resistance or load other than bodyweight.

Third, we will be performing another upper body dominant exercise that hits multiple muscle groups. The cobra! This exercise has a bunch of variations, but we believe the best way to do this is while lying face flat on the floor, or with a stability ball tucked under your hips. From this position you want to engage your core and posterior chain, squeezing those glutes, while lifting your chest and feet off the floor (if able). To

Last but not least, The most efficient way to build up your upper back (and overall strength), is the pull up. The pull up, along with the push up is the most efficient way to test relative strength.

What is relative strength you ask? I digress. Well, relative strength is the total amount of weight your body can lift, relative to your body weight. In sports and recreational activities, this is extremely important as control of your body becomes essential to performing tasks on the field, court or everyday life. When a sports medicine professional, trainer, coach prescribes exercises, normally the higher the body composition or weight someone holds, the more weight they should be able to lift, push or pull. With that being said, this could make harder for them to push or pull their own weight. For example, it should be easier for a 150lbs person to do pull ups, that it would be for a 250lbs person, but it should be easier for a 250lbs person to lift 250lbs vs a 150 lbs person lifting the same amount of weight. With the pull up, we want to make sure we are doing each rep with perfect form or full range. This will allow us to really see how well we can actually move our own weight using our upper body only.

For this exercise we can shoot for max effort or repetitions at 1-3 sets with 2-3 minute rest between sets. As your "relative" or absolute strength improves, you should see your repetitions increase along the way. If you are not able to pull yourself up for 1 rep (which is totally normal to start) simply hang for a designated amount of time using a 1:1 or 1:2 work to rest ratio and work your way up that first rep.

The Bottom Line

There are tons of variations you have seen in the past with all of these exercise. Wether someone you've seen in your neighborhood CrossFit box gym squating large amounts of weight, people doing push up and clapping behind their back or the 60 year old man at your local park doing an aerial gymnastic routine on the pull up bar to stay young and chiseled...these are still some of the best exercises you can do, just by using your own body. If all fails, you can simply just hold yourself up in any of these positions and get great results. It all works!

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