To advance to a higher level of athleticism, you need strong arms, shoulders, core and legs—essentially the focus of Mountain Climbers.
“To perform the Mountain Climber exercise, start on all fours with your shoulders directly over your hands,” says certified fitness instructor Leslie Truex. Contract your abs and switch Mountain Climbers: feet positions in a running motion. Continue this motion for between 30 and 60 seconds, depending on your level of fitness. To further stress your cardiovascular system, increase the speed of the exercise.
Since they can be easily modified—by changing speed, changing hand placement, using a med ball or varying leg movements—Mountain Climbers can be included in different parts of a workout. For example, they are effective either as a full-body warm-up or to keep your heart rate up between weight lifting sets. Regardless of where you incorporate them, Mountain Climbers will deliver noticeable benefits. If you’re a midfielder in lacrosse or a linebacker in football, you’ll have the strong arms, shoulders, core and legs you need to excel on the field.
Forearm strength is critical for proper upper body function in sports. Skills like throwing a baseball or football, hitting a tennis ball or slapping a hockey puck require tremendous grip and forearm strength.
The forearm is composed of several different muscles that move the hand and fingers and also work with the biceps and triceps to flex and extend the arm at the elbow. The lines you see on the top of your hand when you spread your fingers are tendons that connect the fingers to forearm muscles.
Without sufficient forearm strength, your ability to grab hold of a ball or stick and generate power will be limited. In addition, weak forearms and grip strength may prevent you from getting the most from your strength training program. You may want to perform 10 Pull-Ups, but if your forearms give out before you reach that goal, you will fail to make strength gains in your other muscles that contribute to the Pull-Up.
Start incorporating Farmer’s Walks into your exercise routine to simultaneously strengthen your forearms and grip strength.
• Start with medium-weight dumbbells that you can carry for 30 to 60 seconds
• Hold dumbbell in each hand
• Keep arms straight next to sides
• Walk in straight line and maintain good posture
• Keep core muscles tight
Distance: 30 yards or until you can no longer firmly hold weights
5 Muscle-Building Push-Up Variations
Want to build muscle? It’s easy—perform Push-Ups. Below, I describe five variations that will challenge your strength and build muscle.
Prior to performing any of these exercises, I recommend mastering isometric core exercises like Planks and Ab Wheel Rollouts. This way, you’ll have a strong core foundation to build on for the Push-Up variations.
1. Push-Up Ladder
This is not only a chest and triceps killer, it has a great shoulder and core stability component as well. It can be used as a bodyweight exercise for younger athletes or loaded with a 100-pound weight vest for an NFL linebacker.
How To Perform: Start on the right side of the ladder with your left hand inside the last rung and your right hand outside the ladder. Perform a Push-Up. Place your right hand in the same rung as your left hand, and move your left hand to the next rung. Perform a Push-Up. Continue this pattern to the end of the ladder. Always move your trailing hand first. Perform two to four complete ladder cycles.
2. Slideboard Push-Up
This is an advanced exercise. It requires tremendous core stability and strength.
How To Perform: Start in top Push-Up position, with your right hand on a slideboard. Descend into a bottom Push-Up position while extending your slideboard hand forward. Coming up, push up with your left hand while pulling with your slideboard hand until you return to the top Push-Up position. Nice bonus: the pulling motion activates the lats. The key is to maintain Plank position [with a flat back] through the entire movement, which you will perform on both sides
3. Chain Push-Up
This might be my favorite of the five. Since it requires teamwork, it’s great for group morale. To make it more challenging, perform the Push-Ups using 20-pound dumbbells as grips (I prefer 20s because they’re sturdy but not too bulky). The dumbbells add an extra proprioceptive component. Because the chains have to be removed after use, they can slow down your workout.
How To Perform: Have a spotter load chains on your back while you are on all fours. Chains should be loaded in criss-cross fashion. Rep until you feel fatigue, then yell “pull.” Each time you yell “pull,” the spotter removes a chain. Younger or weaker athletes should use four chains. Stronger and more mature athletes can use six.
4. Isometric Countdown Push-Up
This may be the hardest of all—not only from a strength standpoint, but from a time-under-tension standpoint. This makes it a true mass builder!
How To Perform: The set-up requires three boxes, one for each hand and one for both feet. You must be elevated so your chest won’t touch the floor at the bottom of the exercise
Descend to the bottom Push-Up position, dropping your chest between the two hand boxes. Hold for a five-second count. Perform five Push-Ups and return back to bottom position. Hold the bottom position for a four-count and
5. Octagon Push-Up
This is a cool variation, especially for defensive linemen. It requires superior shoulder and core strength.
How To Perform: To set up, place cones at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. Begin in a Push-Up position with your head at 12 o’clock. Perform a Push-Up, quickly rotate to 3 o’clock and perform another Push-Up. Keep rotating clockwise, then counterclockwise, performing Push-Ups at each stop as quickly as possible. End at 12 o’clock.
Setting Up a Bodyweight Workout: Using Your Body as Resistance
Walk into any new training facility and you’ll see top-of-the-line equipment. Even schools are upgrading their weight rooms and sport facilities. Workout Wonderlands are great—when they’re available—but what happens when there’s nowhere to go? Maybe you’re on the road and just can’t get to the gym. Maybe you’re bored and want to spice up your normal routine. Whatever the case, you can always use the best piece of equipment ever made—the human body!
This ultimate resistance-training machine is made up of 700 muscles and 206 bones, all of which can be used for bodyweight training. Below are a few examples of bodyweight exercises that can replace traditional weight room exercises.
Push-Ups = Bench Press
Feet-Elevated Push-Ups = Incline Press
Wide-Grip Push-Ups = Dumbbell Fly
Body Squats = Squat or Leg Press
Multi-Directional Body Lunges = Lunges
Bridges = Hamstring Curls
Step-Ups = Leg Extensions
Up-and-Down Push-Up Walks = Front Dumbbell Raise
Side-to-Side Push-Up Walks = Lateral Dumbbell Raise
Bleacher Body Walks = Behind-the-Neck Press
Forward and Backward Inchworm Walk = Band Rotational Pulls
Wide-Grip Pull-Ups = Lat Pulldown
Narrow-Grip Pull-Ups = Narrow Low Row
Overhead Med Ball Good Mornings = Back Hyper Machine
Protraction/Retraction of Back in Push-Up Position = Dumbbell Shrugs
By thinking outside the box, looking at body movements and using your body as your “weight set,” you can get a great workout in any situation.
Exercise of the Week: Single-Leg RDL (Roman Deadlift)
performance—including strength, speed, conditioning and flexibility. This week we highlight the Single-Leg RDL, a lower body exercise that increases lower body strength and improves speed.
Who’s Doing It
- Connor Barwin, NFL DE
- Georgia Tech Volleyball
- Drew Brees, NFL QB
- Kevin Durant, NBA F
- Duncan Keith, NHL D
- Increases strength in the glutes, hamstrings and lower back
- Improves hip stability
- Improves balance
Sports Performance Benefits
- Increased strength in the posterior chain [rear of the leg and back], which improves top-end speed
- Improves running mechanics and efficiency from a strong posterior chain
- Improves stability at the hip, which is important for balance when changing direction or landing from a jump
Single-Leg RDL Description
- Balance on one leg, holding dumbbell in opposite hand at hip
- With balancing leg slightly bent and back flat, bend forward at waist until dumbbell is just above floor
- Flex glute to extend hip and return to starting position; repeat for specified reps
- Perform set on opposite side
Sets/Reps: 3-4×5-12 each leg
- Keep back flat and neck in neutral position
- Bend at hips and keep knee behind toes
- Keep weight close to shin
- Use control going up and down