"I am tired and run down".
"I can't sleep well no matter what I try".
"I just can't concentrate at work"
And so forth.
These statements (or derivates thereof) are probably something all of us hear on a regular basis from our friends, co-workers, colleagues or family. In fact, I heard something along these lines this morning from a colleague.
"Rahul, what can I do to sleep better? I just don't seem to be able to get to bed at night, and I end up waking up at 4AM or so", he asked me.
"Do you exercise regularly", I asked him
"No, but I'd like to start - I just don't have time".
"Well, what do you do when you wake up at 4AM daily and can't sleep any longer?"
"Huh? I try and go back to sleep, but can't seem to do so".
"Well, why don't you try and get some exercise in during that time", I suggested.
"Exercise? At FOUR AM? What do you think I am, a wrestler or something", he asked me incredulously. I think my suggestion probably qualified me for the loony bin in his opinion.
And thats OK - but give me the choice between training like a wrestler and feeling GOOD about myself all day long (in addition to getting stronger and healthier) - and I think I'll take choice #2 - no questions asked. Even if it means waking up at 4AM to train daily.
Actually, I DO wake up to train early - I train in the mornings, since thats when I can fit in my workout - and because thats when I seem to do best in them. I'm not exactly a morning person, but once the blood gets flowing, I manage to get in some pretty decent workouts in the morning.
I usually train for 30-45 minutes TOPS daily - and guess what that much training does for me?
I feel GREAT all day long, and have way more energy and motivation to "get things done". Even if I have a particularly hectic day, I usually dont feel completely drained at the end of it - I usually come back home with a sense of satisfaction that comes from getting a job done well. And not being able to sleep at night? Heck, I have a problem staying awake once I hit the sheets - and thats NOT an exaggeration!
Now, I've been told more than once that I'm nuts for waking up at 545AM (which is when I arise during the week) to train. Folks come at me with stuff like "you don't need to be doing that before work", or "just stretch a bit and you'll be fine", or - and here's the kicker - "you must be nuts to tire yourself out that much". Coming from someone that constantly complains about being tired (the person I referred at the beginning of the email) - now THAT's a bit thick.
And you'll experience much the same thing, my friend, if you start following routines like I outline in Fast and Furious Fitness. Not necessarily because of when or how long you train - but also because the exercises/routines I teach you are nothing like what most people follow. No 3 hours "gym marathons". No 10 sets of 10 for the head of the biceps. No leg extension machines.
No - what I teach you are exercises that hit the entire body HARD - and get the job done within a short amount of time. More importantly, these are NATURAL exercises that make you feel like a billion bucks all day long, and get you way stronger than you would do with the typical "blast this, pump that" gym routine.
No show, no glitz, just pure HARD training - with little or no equipment - and NO excuses. And thats how your training should be as well.
And if you agree with me and take action NOW - well, I'll see you in the "loony bin" soon then!!
All for now - more tomorrow!
PS: You can collect your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness at: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
There's one exercise that we all know, but don't practice enough - though we should be. We do this exercise daily without even thinking about it, yet most of us fail to do it regularly, and with enough passion to actually reap dividends.
It's so simple that you'd probably laugh at me for mentioning it. It's something we do without even thinking about it daily - and it's something that most folks that aren't handicapped can do without any problem whatsoever.
It's one of the oldest exercises known to man, and it produces great results - maybe not the kind the average person would expect, but it DOES produce results, and LONG-LASTING results at that (as the old timers who incorporated this into their routine got). And the results produced benefit you internally instead of just externally - and these results play a huge role in pushing you further along the path to overall well-being and lifelong health.
So, what IS this exercise I'm talking about?
It's not pushups, though those will do you plenty of good, and are something everyone should do. It's not yoga. It's not long distance running, and it's most definitely NOT bodybuilding.
Well, then what is it?
The answer will likely surprise you - it's WALKING. Yes, you heard me right - I'm referring to walking. Something most of us can do, and something which you likely don't even think of as exercise unless your a power walker or unless your out hiking.
Walking is one of the oldest, and most useful exercises there is. You may not think it does you much good, but even a regular (at a decent clip, not necessarily power walking) couple of miles a day will benefit you greatly - perhaps more so than many other forms of exercise. You'll burn calories - which is something most people want to do - but more than that, walking strengthens all your internal organs, and promotes overall health and longevity to a remarkable extent. This fact has been proven scientifically, but even if you don't believe those findings, you've just gotta look at the routines of the old time strongmen, boxers and wrestlers - virtually ALL of them incorporated lots of walking into their daily routines.
It's also a potent anti-dote to ageing - walking works the legs, and as the Chinese say, the legs are the first to go when a person starts to age. Keep the legs fit and strong, and you keep the entire body fit and strong by extension.
And know that it doesn't have to be a vigorous walk to benefit you (though busting your chops walking up a steep hill certainly WILL benefit you!) - walking at a decent pace (note I said decent - not slow) also has it's own benefits, and many of them. The key thing is to walk at least a couple of kilometers daily, or more is possible - and do so without the "marathon" mentality of making the miles, and nothing more. Enjoy the walk, breathe in the fresh air - and simply WALK - thats pretty much it.
That isn't to say walking by itself will get you the results you want - quite the contrary - but it IS a vital part of your routine, and should NOT be ignored.
As for me, I'm doing plenty of walking these days in Oman - this in a country where virtually NO-ONE walks. Sure, the extreme heat is a reason for that, but even so, you'd be amazed at how widespread obesity is here. Folks talk of people in the US being overweight, but there are other countries where the problem is just as (if not more) acute. . .I'm constantly thinking about how much fitter people would be if they just stepped out of their vehicles and walked a couple of kilometers to get to wherever they have to.
Anyway, be that as it may, I'm also doing plenty of handstand pushups, rope jumping, stair climbing and other things in addition to my walking - all things YOU should be doing, or trying to do as well! Of course, you do need a good routine to put things together - but thats why I wrote Fast and Furious Fitness- this has all the routines you need, and more, to get into great, great shape.
OK, long enough post for today, I'll stop here for now. Until next time, make sure you train hard - and be sure to try and incorporate walking into your daily routine as well!
PS: I spoke about Fast and Furious Fitness in today's email - the link to that is right HERE. Click on over NOW, and start on the routines that WILL change your life for the better!
Ask the average trainee a list of exercises they do (or for those starting out, a list of exercises they plan on getting after), and you'll likely get a long list - most likely put together with input from the "experts" that swear by doing thousands of reps and a ton of different exercises on a daily basis.
One such routine I read on a forum was (this was a bodyweight routine) went thus: - 500 bodyweight squats, 50 pistols (one legged squats), 200 pushups, 100 pull-ups, 10 sets of 1 minute handstands, 25 burpees, and - to "finish" things off, 10 minutes of jumping rope.
This routine was apparently meant to be followed daily, and one is expected to increase the number of reps on all exercises except the bodyweight squats, which was already the mind boggling number of 500 per day. YIKES!
Now, this may sound good in theory (apparently it does to a lot of folks), but for the average person, it means one thing and one alone - OVERTRAINING, and therefore a complete lack of progress; in many cases, a reversal of any progress made, which is even worse. It may work for professional athletes whose JOB is to exercise 8 hours day - but these folks have little else to do other than exercise, and practice their chosen sport - which is NOT the case for the average person.
I mean any ONE of the movements described is enough for an entire workout, if done correctly. 500 squats?? Do those right, and you'll likely have very little left in you after that. 100 pull-ups? Impossible for most folks to do. 100 pushups? Pretty tough workout by itself, without adding a ton of stuff in. You get the picture - these type of training "programs" (and I use that word with caution) are found plastered all over the Internet, but are to avoided at all costs.
And whats even sadder is that this particular routine was being recommended by some folks to others - ignorance is bliss, it would seem.
My own routine consists of a variety of movements, but I definitely do NOT go over the top on any of them. And truth be told, you'll make FAR greater gains working on a few movements, and working those movements HARD. For instance, my upper body routine this morning consisted of a 100 pushups, 25 handstand pushups and 25 pull-ups, followed by a bridge, but I was hammered at the end of it. The key is to focus on each rep - get the MOST out of every rep - and you'll see you don't need super-high reps to make progress. Neither do you need to do every exercise under the sun in a workout - concentrate on a few hard movements, and work those like you mean it.
Emblazon this into your mind - LESS is MORE, provided you do things correctly. Quality over quantity wins out every time - this cannot be emphasized enough.
And last, but not least, please don't think I'm against anyone working up to super high reps in a movement. On the contrary, I think those are great goals to shoot for - but add in a bit of common sense as well. Doing a 100 pullups is fantastic, but a hundred of them daily along with other things might just be over loading your system a wee bit too much. Do 100 one day, 25 the next, 70 the next, and so forth. You'll also find that you'll progress, and roar past "sticking points" much faster this way.
OK, my friend, thats the wisdom for the day. If your looking for training programs that allow you to blast every part of your body without overtraining, you can find them right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book.
All for now!
Today I'm going to talk about a time tested exercise combination for the upper body that works wonders if you know how to combine it into your routine effectively.
The routine I'm going to talk about is extremely simple, but amazingly enough ignored by many people. It consists of only TWO exercises. That's right - just TWO. You could work more in if you think you need to, but you likely won't find it necessary to do so.
It requires no other equipment other than a chinning bar - and even that isn't required if you have some other place to hang from (eg. a ledge, a tree branch, monkey bars, and so forth). It makes for a real tough workout to be honest - but it does so without eating up your entire day. And you could do this combination, and do no other exercise for the upper body - and you'd still make good gains as far as the upper body is concerned.
Now, at this point you've probably figured out what one of the exercises is - and you are right, my friend - it's the good old PULL-UP. But it's a pull-up done in proper form until your chin crosses the bar, done slowly, and for repetitions (and done WITHOUT "kipping").
The other exercise is another toughie - and one which is even more ignored than the pull-up - and that is the handstand pushup. Do these two exercises in sync for a while, my friend, and you'll soon be buying new shirts for yourself.
I did 40 pull-ups and 40 handstand pushups as part of my routine today - and believe me, there wasn't much else I could fit in except for some lower body movements, and core work. These two movements work the entire upper body into the ground - if you know how to do them correctly. See Fast and Furious Fitness for detailed instructions on how to get going with these two exercises.
Why do these two exercises work so well?
Well, first because they are compound exercises that work the entire upper body - as opposed to exercises which claim to isolate a certain muscle. I'm not EVEN going to get started on that one here. . .but rest assured that both exercises work the entire upper body as an unit. Yes, we've all heard that pull-ups work the back, and pushups the chest, but what is not often mentioned is how pull-ups use the chest muscles as well and pushups work the back. For more on this, see Fast and Furious Fitness.
Second, and more importantly because they train the same muscles HARD in OPPOSITE directions - and this last bit is important - they train the same muscle, in opposite directions, giving you muscles and tendons that are flexible and strong in ALL directions as opposed to one.
Think of it this way - what use would a rubber band be if you could just pull one end of it out? The same thing applies to your body. The pull-up motion requires ALL your upper body muscles to pull your upper body weight and the handstand pushup requires them to push the same weight. When you pull, you arch your back and draw your shoulder blades "back", and you do exactly the opposite when you do handstand pushups - and THIS is what leads to balanced muscular development, as opposed to, say, a "gorilla like" look where you work the chest muscles to the point that you stay hunched over, but neglect to do any back work (and this is more common than you'd think).
There are other reasons, and I could spend all day discussing this, but those two should be more than plenty for you to get started and find out the amazing benefits of this combination for yourself. Get started, do what you can, and you'll soon be the one telling me about how YOU'VE benefited from this combo!
Now, one last thing - remember that this sort of routine is NOT for the uninitiated. If your just starting out, this is not for you. If you haven't done pushups and pullups for a while, start off with regular pushups, and get good at them before working up to the other two. That is crucial - don't bite off more than you can chew - or you'll end up going backwards, not forwards. And of course, as always, remember to ALWAYS maintain good form.
Follow this sort of a routine religiously, and you'll soon have upper body development to rival the local "gorillas" at the park (or gym, hehe) - and what's more - you'll have solid, FUNCTIONAL strength to go with it as well!
PS: To learn more such amazingly simple, yet brutally effective exercise combinations, grab your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness NOW.
As I said yesterday, some of the very best exercises that you can for your overall health, strength, and fitness are also the simplest ones. Case in point - the burpee - which I spoke about yesterday - so in case you missed yesterday's note, check the blog, and it'll be up there.
And some of these exercises are SO simple (in theory) that the gym-crazy populace would scoff at the mere thought of doing them. The burpee is one such "simple" exercise that has the potential to bring even the most 'roid-crazed gym monster to his knees within a matter of minutes, but it is by no means the only one.
This morning, I added in two such, simple, but extrememly demanding movements into my routine. These are the bear crawl, and the reverse bear crawl (also known as the "crab walk" in some circles). I cover the bear crawl in Fast and Furious Fitness, but there are many who have overlooked this wonderful exercise for the upper body. Big mistake - this seemingly simple movement adds in GREAT value to your routine - and whats more, it does so in less than a minute for most folks.
Don't believe me? Well, get on your hands and feet, and crawl around like a bear for a while. I'll bet you twenty smackers that the average person thats never done this before will be breathing heavily after about 20-25 seconds or so, and it'll take time for him to work up to a minute. Then do the same thing, only walking backwards. WHOA!
And thats just the start. When you think you've gotten good at it - try doing the same thing uphill. That one is enough to whoop even the fittest of us - I cover this routine in Fast and Furious Fitness as well.
And we haven't even gotten to the reverse bear crawl, which is a movement I do NOT recommend for those that are not good at the regular bear crawl. This one will have you panting within a matter of seconds - just holding the position is more than what most folks can do.
Now, as I said, I mixed these up into my regular routine, but believe me, if your just starting out (or if you haven't done these before), these two movements alone may well make up the majority of your workout, and you'd still be whooped pretty well when done. I've done these movements before - but I was still fried at the end of my workout. Combine this type of thing with burpees - and other exercises, as I did today, stick at it for a month or so, and you'll soon find yourself dropping waist sizes faster than you can say voila.
And that's just the part about dropping weight - you'll FEEL great as well. ANY exercise which causes you to huff and puff like a runaway locomotive will do that for you, and these are a few exercises that fit the bill perfectly. I should know - I'm feeling the positive energy pulsate through my veins right now, and this is an hour or so after my routine!
OK, enough for now, my friend. Have you ordered your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness yet?
Those that scoff at bodyweight exercises as being "too easy", or not "tough enough to build real strength", and so forth don't have a clue.
This morning, I did a "finisher" that I haven't done in a long, long time. A "finisher" in my book being an exercise that finishes my workout off - both literally and figuratively speaking - as one should have nothing left in the tank after a finisher". Now like I said, I hadn't done this particular movement in a very long time - it was one of those "forgotten" exercises (for me), you might say.
So I start. I pump out one rep, and think "ah, I can still do it. No problem". On to rep #2, which somehow didn't seem as easy. And so forth. The sweat started to roll off me like raindrops off a slanted roof after just a few reps. Each rep became progressively harder, until I stopped at rep #15 or so.My lungs were burning, and I felt like my legs were going to buckle under me at any moment.
"This is ONE evil exercise, buddy", my inner voice told me.
"It is for sure. Get on with it", I responded.
And get on with it I then did. I completed my first set, then did another two sets of these, before I was ready to shout "Uncle" (for the more imaginative of you out there, insert expletive of choice).
And this exercise, my friend, is something SO simple that you wouldn't believe it could provide such a hell of a workout. It's the much under-rated and oft-forgotten BURPEE - and it's a movement that can bring the fittest of us to our knees in less than two minutes flat.
What does the movement include? Well, simply put, you crouch down on the floor so that your hands are by your feet, and from that position, you move your feet back to a pushup position while keeping your hands at the same position. You do a pushup, immediately move your feet back to where they were, and then you jump up with arms extended as high as you can. That's one rep. You repeat for as many reps as possible.
Yes, it's simple enough - a pushup, jump and squat - I said the exercise was simple to start with - but does simple make it EASY? Not a chance, my friend, and for those of you that doubt, get down on the floor right now and pump out a set of 20, or whatever number you think might be challenging enough for you, and THEN let's talk. The exercise is aptly titled as well. . .those of you with excess flatulence or distended stomachs might even experience "relief" in a way, if you know what I'm talking about, hehe.
Now there are those that might say "15 reps? Pah! I could do more of those in my sleep". And while you might or might not be able to do burpees "in your sleep", remember that I'm doing this as a finisher. And for today, that meant doing it after 250 pushups (30 of which were handstand pushups) - which makes it a total of almost 300 pushups. NOT for the fainthearted, and certainly not for those looking for an "easy" workout.
And for those that are wondering, you can do this exercise both as a finisher, as well as part of your regular routine - your imagination is the only thing that limits you.
I don't cover this exercise in Fast and Furious Fitness, pretty much because I regard it as an advanced exercise of sorts, requiring a solid base to work upon, but I may well incorporate it into edition #2, which should have an "advanced" exercises section. Again, this movement is NOT for beginners - make sure you get good at doing regular pushups, jumping rope, and other things before attempting this one.
Well, my friend, there you have it - a simple movement that's enough to give you a solid overall workout. I'll cover more such movements in the future as well. For now though - have a great day - and remember that the SIMPLE things in life are often also the BEST!
PS: Building a solid base is easy enough if you have the right tools at your disposal - and Fast and Furious Fitness sure qualifies as the "right tool" to get the job done: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
PS #2: For those of you that try building a workout around burpess, be sure and write to let me know how it goes!
Let's face it, there are some body parts that most of us like to train more than others - and some that a lot of us ignore (but shouldn't be).
For example, 8 our of 10 average trainees would list "chest" and "abs" among their most favorite body parts to train. And chances are that they'll work these parts a LOT more than other, more vital body parts. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing always - work the chest and abdominal area in an useful, functional manner, and you'll do good - but the key thing to note here is balance. Most folks neglect working the back and legs hard - and that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a trainee.
And though legs and back are often ignored by a lot of folks, there's another vital part of the body that escapes even the minutest attention for 99% of trainees out there. To put it another way, if 2 out of 10 trainees focues on hard, tough leg and back work - there's a good chance that ZERO focus on the body part I'm about to talk about.
So, what body part is this?
The answer is - the hamstrings - the muscles at the back of your thigh. They are the second largest muscle group after the quadriceps - but sadly, they don't even get 10% of the attention that the quadricep gets.When we talk about working the legs, it's usually quad/calf work that we're referring to. And this is a big, big mistake - the hamstrings perform many vital functions, ranging from allowing you to bend over without pain, assisting in walking, sprinting and climbing, and performing a variety of athletic movements.
Like the back - you might not be able to "see" it in the mirror - but this does NOT mean you forget about the muscle. You may have the strongest quads around, but weak hamstrings will ultimately always limit your performance in whichever athletic endavor you choose. Additionally, you run the risk of injury if you overdevelop the quads, and neglect the hamstrings - and most such injuries take a while to heal. Not good.
I've been guilty of not training my hamstrings hard enough in the past, and also as of late. This point struck home rather rudely when I did a set of split lunges (or, 3 sets of 10 to precise) yesterday - which led to that all familiar "wobbly" feeling in my hamstrings which means I've worked a muscle group that I haven't worked in a while (and in a way I haven't for a while). I can barely walk today - OUCH!
Now, just so you know, split lunges are an ADVANCED exercise - and they are NOT for those that are just starting out. If you are just starting out, the regular lunge is a great way to strengthen the hamstrings. Work on these for a while, and also work on strengthening the other parts of your leg at the same time. When you've been doing that a while, ease into the split lunges - but again, a word of caution - these can make you incredibly sore through the glute/hamstring region, so be sure not to overdo them at the start.
There are many other great ways to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings as well - I cover some of the best ones in Fast and Furious Fitness. Grab a copy ASAP, and start working on some of the exercises within - you'll start discovering "hidden" muscles in your body that you never knew existed.
And that endeth today's tip. More later!
I know, I've been remiss. Haven't posted in quite a while, and for those of you that are used to getting these tips in your mailbox, I apologize - I've just been extremely busy over the last few days. Happens sometimes - I'm sure you know the feeling!
Anyway, getting back to training - I wrote a bit about sit-ups and how I consider them to be superior to crunches in my last post. And today, we'll talk a bit more about sit-ups and how there are literally dozens of ways you can make even this simple little exercise much tougher.
For those of you that haven't already got the book, the sit-up that I teach in Fast and Furious Fitness is the "traditional" sit-up - i.e. palms interlocked behind neck, bent knees, and "pulling" yourself up from that position using your abdominal muscles. This one is a great, great exercise - a favorite with many of the old timers, and thats the only version of the movement I show you in the book. And truth be told, if you get good at doing the traditional sit-up, and do them regularly, you really won't need many more pure abdominal exercises.
But, there are ways you can make this exercise more effective - and tougher as well.
One of the ways that I like to do sit-ups is to lie down on my back on the floor with my legs stretched out, and then sit up to a sitting position using my abdominal muscles - but I do so while keeping my legs STRAIGHT. And unlike the traditional situp, my arms are straight as well beside me. The best way to explain the position is to picture a man lying in a coffin, completely still with arms and legs stretched out straight in front of/beside him. That, in a nutshell, is the starting position of this particular movement.
(OK, that description was sort of macabre - but I think it illustrates the position perfectly!)
From this position, you then "situp" to a sitting position using your abdominal muscles WITHOUT moving your legs. You do NOT lock your fingers behind your neck; instead, you allow your arms to come up with you naturally into a sitting position. And again, you use your ABDOMINALS to accomplish this movement - with no assistance from the arms or legs. Lie back down, and repeat for reps. And that, my friend, is one of my favorite alternate ways of performing a sit-up.
Why do I like this method? Well, for one, it eliminates the slight momentum that a lot of people use while performing the traditional sit-up. And while some don't have the form down pat, it's also a fact that the traditional sit-up makes it much harder to eliminate momentum as your muscles tire simply due to the nature of the movement. THIS particular movement though ensures you focus on your abs - and your abs alone - to lift yourself up to a sitting position.
I generally do 50 or so of these during my regular workout - and believe me, my abs are on FIRE after 40-50 consecutive repetitions. In fact, done correctly, this movement will prove to be hard to do for 10 reps if your a beginner - so work into it accordingly.
And while thats one way of making the movement more effective, there are so many more as well. Slight changes in leg postion, speed of the movement, number of reps - all this can make the exercise tougher. Too many to list in this note, but they'd definitely occupy space in any core training book worth the value.
Hmm - that's a thought for the day - maybe I should write a book purely about core training! Maybe I'll do so - but for now, focus on getting better at sit-ups; and you'll be on the way to a much stronger midsection than you currently have in short order.
All for now!
PS: - I speak about Fast and Furious Fitness in this email - that book can be found right HERE.
PS#2: - If you'd like me to do a book focusing purely on core training, shoot me an email and let me know - I'll do it if there's enough interest!
Today I'll cover a fairly common question - are sit-ups better than crunches, or vice versa - and why. This one may ruffle a few feathers, especially if you've been fed on the "crunches isolate the abs the best" philosophy by the "experts". So be it. . .
Long time readers of this blog (and those that have read my book) will know that I've always spoken out against crunches. The crunch, if you didn't know it already, is an exercise that requires you to lie down on the floor, "focus" on your upper abs (the six pack muscles) and lift your upper back ever so slightly off the floor - your mid/lower back does NOT move while performing the exercise. That's one crunch. The "experts" advocate doing this for high repetitions, 50-100 being a bare minimum.
A sit-up on the other hand is an exercise where you lie down on your back, and then use your core muscles to pull yourself up to a sitting position. You then repeat for as many reps as you can handle.
Now, which one sounds simpler? You got it - the sit-up - but does that make it less effective than the crunch? Not a chance in purgatory, my friend, and I'll tell you why.
First, the crunch is an abnormal movement which focuses on isolating certain small muscles to the exclusion of the other core muscles (in other words, to the exclusion of the "larger picture"). And I've always spoken out AGAINST isolationist movements. Your body works as a WHOLE, not as seperate muscles; so training it that way is always more effective. Additionally, isolate smaller muscles too much, and you've got an injury waiting to happen. It's really quite simple - ALWAYS choose exercises that work your body as a whole, rather than in bits and pieces.
Second, remember that you need to work exercises that are HARD and make you actually WORK to complete the movement as opposed to easy exercises that barely make you break a sweat. I hate to say it, but the simple sit-up is a FAR tougher movement than the so-called "modern" crunch. The situp works your ENTIRE midsection and makes you WORK to have to sit up as opposed to a crunch where you simply lift yourself two inches or so off the floor using your upper abs, and then do that for reps. If you don't believe me, do traditional sit-ups in proper form for reps, and tell me how they compare to crunches when it comes to making you puff and pant.
Third and this ties into #2: You use way more muscles in a situp than you do in a crunch. Sit-ups strengthen everything in the core - the lower back, front and lower abdominals, hip flexors, and even the obliques. Crunches on the other hand work a bit of the upper abs - and that's it. Now, think about this - what good does it do you to have two strong muscles in the core region, while your lower back and hips are weak? That sort of training is like inviting injury to your doorstep - so avoid it. Train your core as a whole - not seperate bits and pieces.
Last, and by no means least, the situp has been a preferred choice for training the midsection for ages. All strength athletes (boxers, wrestlers, sprinters etc) do plenty of sit-ups as a part of their regular routine. Mike Tyson did 500 pushups and 1000 situps as part of his daily routine, but we never heard of him doing crunches, do we? The great Herschel Walker did around 3500 situps as part of HIS routine - but nowhere do I read about him doing crunches. And the list goes on and on.
So, those are but a few reasons why I avoid the crunch like the plague - and it's why I suggest YOU do the same as well. Leave the crunches for the "toners" and "gym bunnies" - if your seriously considering strengthening your core, the sit-up is what you need to be doing - as opposed to "pumping" out high rep crunches.
And yes, sit-ups are by no means the only - or the best- way to train your core. There are many exercises that do an even better job at core training, but some of these may be too advanced for the beginner. Heck, sit-ups can prove to be a great workout even for the experienced athlete - and I've given you two examples of the same.
The simplest and most uncomplicated things usually work the best - and the humble sit-up is no exception to the rule!
PS: Along with sit-ups, there are other very useful exercises that you need to be doing to train your core to the fullest. Grab a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness ASAP to learn what these are!
My last note on doing 500 pushups a day seems to have attracted quite a few readers. This seems to be a favorite topic for many folks - and not without good reason.
Anyway, one reader that stumbled upon the blog recently wrote in to tell me that while my goal of doing 500 pushups daily was a great one, I was simply "doing too much" daily and that would hinder, rather than aid, my progress. He also stated that the exercises I do after (or sometimes before) my pushup workout can be a workout unto themselves, and asked me why I needed to do that many things in one workout.
His final question was whether that many pushups a day really built one's strength up "beyond a certain point".
Hmm, interesting points/questions - and those are questions a lot of people have (especially the last one), so I'll address them here as well.
First, note that "too much" is a personal thing. Doing 50 pushups a day may be way too much someone that's never done a pushup in their lives, and doing 500 or more a day is routine for professional strength athletes (boxers, wrestlers, strongmen etc). And remember that whatever your goal is, you need to WORK UP TO IT. In my case, 500 is what my current goal is - and so I'm working up to it by doing 300 odd daily.
Second, the reader is RIGHT in saying some of the exercises I do before/after the pushups can be a regular workout unto themselves. But here's the thing - I don't do a "high volume" of everything. As an example, I may do 300 pushups in a workout - but I'll do only 10 handstand pushups, 25 pull-ups, and three sets of 10 reps of ab exercises to finish things off. This may still sound like a lot of "volume" for someone that hasn't been working out hard, but it really isn't for an experienced trainee. So no, I don't do TWO workouts one after the other - and neither should you - but it doesn't hurt to "keep in touch" with supplementary exercises while focusing on your main goal.
And as for the last question - well - the answer is obvious enough to me, but a lot of people don't readily believe me when I tell them that YES, doing 500 pushups in perfect form daily WILL build a ton of strength. This goes double for those that lift weights, and believe the ONLY way to get stronger is to lift heavier weights. Well, I'm not going to attempt to outargue my weight lifting friends, but here's something that might make you believe - pick a number of pushups that are hard for you to do - and then do them daily in good form until that number becomes easy to do. At that point, go into the gym and test yourself on your favorite "lift", be that bench presses, rows, or even the golden pull-up.
I think your going to be amazed at what you find out - and what you find out will likely be that ALL your upper body lifts have improved.
Still need more evidence? Well, you've heard me talk about handstand pushups and the amazing levels of power they build when done correctly. Handstand pushups are impossible to do for most people - especially for reps, and when I first started, I was no exception to this rule. So what I did was work my regular pushups harder and harder - until one fine day, I felt good enough test myself on handstand pushups again.
And get this - I was not simply aiming to do one or two in good form. No, my test was doing two sets of TEN in good form - something I could never do before.
And do you know what? After doing pushups on a daily basis (at that point I was doing about 170 or so), doing handstand pushups was a BREEZE. I popped off 12 in good form when I tried - and banged out an even 10 the next time. So much for the "high volume" not building strength - it sure did in my case.
So what all this boils down to is that training, at the end of the day, is very much a PERSONAL thing. YOUR goals, YOUR current physical condition, YOUR desire to improve and other things are what determine your success - or failure when it comes to training. And remember that there's no one "best" way for everyone - sure, there are guidelines, but you've got to find out what works best for you - and then DO it - it's just that simple.
Anyhow, this post has turned out a bit longer than expected, so I'll end it here - but a long post was required to do justice to the topic. Thanks again to those that send in questions and are regular readers - I appreciate the interest all of you have shown!
Up and ahead,
PS: The very idea of doing 100, or 500 pushups in one workout can sound pretty intimdating to the average person - but it doesn't have to be that way. Remember that you can achieve any goal you set your mind to, provided you have the right general guidance - and Fast and Furious Fitness provides you with just that. Click on HERE to grab your copy ASAP!