Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Atlas Pushup

That's Atlas as in Charles Atlas. Yes, you remember the guy - at least, you do if you ever read comic books. There was always an comic strip-style ad in the back of the comic about a guy at the beach. A bully came along, kicked sand in his face, and then stole his girl. Horrors! What would the poor guy do?

Why, he'd send off for Charles Atlas's Dynamic Tension bodybuilding and fitness guide, that's what! And before long, he'd be muscled up; he'd head back to that beach, punch out the bully, and take his girl back. Oh, and he'd become the hero of the beach, too.

Maybe in January - when we're all starting new fitness programs - I'll take a look at the Atlas Dynamic Tension system and why you should consider using some of his techniques to get stronger and more flexible. (And no, I don't have any connection to him or make any money off him. The techniques just work; I don't have patience with stuff that doesn't.) But today I'd like to teach you the most basic exercise in his program. Although Atlas called it the "dipping" exercise, I've heard it called the Atlas Pushup, so that's what I'm calling it.

You know how to do a pushup, right? Well, this one is done the same way EXCEPT you use two chairs placed about 18 inches apart. You put one hand on each seat; now your hands are on the seats and your feet are on the floor. Got it?

Now you do pushups. Pushups done with your upper body this high above your feet are much easier to do than regular pushups (again, I'll talk about that next month), but it also allows you to let your chest down lower than your hands. You can't do that on the floor, of course; the Atlas Pushup lets you stretch the chest muscles by going lower. You increase your range of motion while increasing your strength. Cool, huh?

Atlas said this should be done in the morning and at night, and he did a lot of reps. But you don't have to let it take over your life! I would just suggest doing what feels comfortable; the idea is to get stronger and more flexible, not kill yourself. I would also suggest doing it slowly; if you don't get a lot of momentum going, the muscles work a little harder without risking so much strain.

And of course, all disclaimers apply. Do this at your own risk, yadda yadda yadda. I am not a doctor, although I used to watch Quincy on TV. (Wait... Quincy was a coroner. That may not be the best example...)

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