Push-ups, bench presses, & air squats

More useful push-ups

The “dead-stop push-up” is what it sounds like. Allow your chest and clenched core to rest on the floor while your hands—shoulder-width apart—rise off the ground an inch or two. Have your hands come off the ground; this eliminates help from your stretch reflex—the rubber band–like tendency of muscles—making you push through a full motion range and eliminating the possibility of cheating or ineffective form. If you want to take this push-up to the next level, elevate your feet on a bench, box, or step instead of the ground. Ten of these will feel like 30 regular push-ups. 

Boost your bench press

Most men and women approach the bench press as if more reps with an extreme amount of weight is an accomplishment, but this isn’t true—your only accomplishment is back pain in 10 years. Instead of allowing the overloaded amount of weight to bounce off your chest—cheating many important muscles triggered in a press—use something called a “pause”. This magical and frightening word to someone with bench-pressing experience will likely get you better results using lighter loads. Squeeze the glutes, crunch the abs, and grab the weight with hands shoulder-width apart. Once the weight is in the air, fill your lungs with air and then slowly bring down the weight until it’s barely touching the bottom of your sternum. Hold the weight there for one to five seconds, and then explode up using your chest and core. By using this technique, you not only build up your chest, but you’re also strengthening your upper back. Get ready for some serious gains. 

Air squats every day

Spending at least two to five minutes a day in a deep squat position can be painful for those short moments, but it can save you from constant back problems in the future. As students, if we’re not working out or walking to class, we’re sitting for more than 70 percent of our day—this leads to improper back form and weak posture. Deep air squats will give you the much-needed flexibility you crave in your ankles, knees, and hips and prevent back pain. Grab a pole or rubber band and attach it to the wall and begin the squat. Move your hips backward, press your heels firmly into the ground, core crunched, chest and face parallel to the wall, and sit down with your knees pointing outward. Follow these steps and you’ll notice improvements after a minute or two. Improve your time every day. You’ll see benefits ranging from a boost in confidence to better sleeping patterns. You can try these exercises either in the training facilities at UTM or in the comfort of your own home.

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