How often has the first look or attempt at an exercise, put you off it for life? At first glance, certain exercises can seem daunting. Impossible even. But usually, their bark is worse than their bite, and all it takes is a lot of practice and even more patience. So let’s get to work making the impossible, possible. Here are the exercises you need to conquer, one movement at a time.
Push-ups are tricky at the beginning because you are using an untouched muscle group, which has yet to be strengthened and given time to get used to the exercise. That’s why regular training is required to strengthen your triceps and also teach them how and what to engage and perform. Here’s where to start and how to, step by step, master the movement:
- The first stage of the pushup is actually the plank. If you can’t hold a plank, you can’t do a pushup. So get practicing your plank every so often so that your core is engaged both on the way up and down.
- Start with a push-up on your knees and increase the repetitions over time.
- Continue with an incline push-up. Using a box or similar heightened surface, try the push up on your feet with an elevated upper body.
- Practice until you can handle a full standard push-up movement.
It’s often women who struggle in particular with pull-ups. But even those with an overall good fitness level might have difficulties lifting their entire body weight. To work your way up to the perfect pull-up you need to practice gradually to create total body tension and build the strength you need to perform a proper pull-up. Here’s how:
- Start by just hanging on the bar for 60 seconds.
- When you feel comfortable, try using a resistance band to assist you in lifting and lowering yourself.
- Next is the “negative” pull-up, where you lower yourself from the bar. This is also a good way to strengthen the necessary muscles.
For some, this is as easy as an exercise gets. For others it’s a hopeless nightmare of flailing arms and legs. Standups require a certain amount of flexibility and if you’ve got long legs, you’ll find them especially difficult to perform. The trick is getting your feet close enough to your butt where you are in the position to actually stand up. We know it’s easier said than done, so here are some tips to help you out:
- Practicing barefoot will make it a lot easier.
- You can hang a resistance band in front of you to pull yourself up to a standing position, or place your phone on the ground in front of you and try to reach it when you swing yourself forwards.
- Next step is to stand on the edge of your mat so you are slightly elevated. This will make it easier for you to get up. You can also use several mats to have a greater elevation.
The pistol – also known as the single leg squat – is a challenging move, that combines strength, flexibility and balance. This balance must be maintained for the entire movement and includes standing up on one leg. That’s why powerful pins are a must for this one. Here’s how we suggest you go about tackling it:
- First, make sure you can squat in a full range-of-motion all the way down.
- If so, try assisted pistols by holding onto a pole. This will help you to keep the balance and pull yourself back up.
- Alternatively, attach a resistance band to a bar and use this to help you come back to a standing position. Overtime focus on relying less and less on the band so that at one point you are able to stand up without it.
- Another assistance is to stand with one leg on a box, the other one is stretched vertically, then try to stand up. As this becomes easier, move on to a shorter box to work your way up to a full pistol.
Next time an exercise seems impossible, don’t panic. Break it down, take your time and keep trying over and over again until you’ve cracked it.