PUSHUPS & PULLUPS SPECIALIZATION PLAN:
Month 3 of the Q3 Pushups & Pullups Specialization plan focuses on a superset of the following 2 movements performed back-to-back:
Rest 30-60 seconds between moves. Rest 3-5+ minutes between supersets. Please download the companion PDF for a customized training plan for your current fitness level, including 5 unique training schedules to choose from based on your individual goals, recovery & schedule.
The PULSING Technique involves repeated micro-movements at a specific ROM (or Range of Motion) to demonstrate complete body control & movement mastery. Creating and releasing force in this manner fortifies the fascia and muscle fibers plus increases strength and power potential. Fascia is defined as a layer of fibrous connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels or nerves. Sometimes fascia binds structures together, other times it allows structures to smoothly slide over each other. Finally, the increase in time-under-tension from pulsing provides both precious pumps & a potent muscle-building stimulus.
For our purposes, we’ll focus on the bottom of the pushup (peak stretch) and the top of the pullup (peak contraction). However, you can also pulse during the middle of each movement - typically the sticking point - with your arms bent at approximately 90-degrees. Technically, you can pulse anywhere during a rep, but we’ll focus on the aforementioned options this month.
Pulsed movements require pulsed breathing for max performance. Continue to breathe as you’ve been taught. Perform deep inhales through the nose into the belly before you start your first rep and on the eccentric or downward phase of each rep. And fully exhale through the mouth to power the more challenging concentric or upward phase of each rep. But when pulsing, sync your breath and movement with a series of quick & incomplete inhales going down & exhales going up. I recommend practicing this pulsed breathing while lying, sitting or standing before starting your first set for best results.
The companion PDF of the training plans outlines the prescribed reps for each drill. There’s no rep or tempo progression this month. Just strive to make each pulsing rep more perfect from set to set, day to day and week to week. Feel free to work in some strategic isometric pauses and/or a super slow eccentric phase on the final rep of each set. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, try increasing the number of pulses you do from 2-3 to 4-5.
You can also incorporate SINGLE-REP SETS where you perform a single PULSING REP as slow as possible (ASAP). Please note that you will likely need to do multiple slow inhales through the nose & exhales through the mouth with this extended time-under-tension. For best results with this technique, I highly recommend closing your eyes and focusing on the primary movers to max out the mind-muscle connection.
Crush your checticles:
- Deeply inhale through the nose into the belly to lower all the way down to the bottom
- Perform 2-3 pulses moving just an inch or two up & down
- Inhale through the nose to go all the way back down again
- Then fully exhale through the mouth to push all the way back up to the top
That’s ONE pulsing rep. Repeat for the prescribed number of reps outlined in your training plan based on your fitness level. You can also pulse halfway back up with your elbows flexed at approximately 90-degrees.
You can modify the pushups by elevating your hands on a low box/step or bench to unload your bodyweight. The best option for this variation is an adjustable aerobics step with risers so you can seamlessly micro-load up or down based on your current strength level.
You can also continue to mix up your hand-placement. Closer-grips increase the range of motion (ROM) and mobility demands plus make the triceps & anterior shoulders work harder. Wider-grips decrease ROM, max out the pec contribution and require more shoulder stability. Please note that as your grip widens, your hands will gradually flare out more much like the feet do with squatting.
Looking to hit those chesticles from another angle? Try mixing in some DIPS performed at the same tempo. Just cut the prescribed reps each set in half since dips are at least twice as difficult as pushups. In other words, if the set calls for 10 pushups, do 5 dips.
Blow up your back:
- Fully exhale through the mouth to pull all the way up to the top
- Perform 2-3 pulses moving just an inch or two down & up
- Exhale through the mouth to pull back up to the top again
- Then deeply inhale through the nose into the belly to lower all the way back down
That’s ONE pulsing rep. Repeat for the prescribed number of reps outlined in your training plan based on your fitness level. You can also pulse halfway back down with your elbows flexed at approximately 90-degrees.
You can modify pullups by using the self-assisted option with your feet on the floor or on a low box/step or bench for higher bar setups. Use as much assistance as needed to get to the top but then strive for little to no assistance during the descent.
And feel free to continue mixing up your grips. Closer-grips increase ROM and mobility demands plus boost arm activation. Wider-grips decrease ROM, make the back work harder and require more shoulder stability. Underhand tends to be the strongest grip since the biceps can maximally assist and your shoulders are most stable when externally-rotated. The palms-facing neutral or hammer-grip shifts the work from the biceps to the brachialis and is the most joint-friendly option. You can even start working in the most challenging grip, overhand, which minimizes arm assistance to max out lat, rear shoulder and upper/mid back activation.
Looking for more variety? You can also substitute INVERTED OR BODYWEIGHT ROWS performed at the same tempo. Just double the prescribed reps each set since pullups are at least twice as difficult as the rows. In other words, if the set calls for 5 pullups, do 10 rows.