Wrist Pushups and other treats

Martial Artists – Boxers, Karateka (空手家) and Bruce Lee fans knew it all the way: Pushups are the way to strengthen your hands and wrists.

When I was a kid, I had my hand broken (the metacarpal bone of my index finger), when blocking a kick to my backside. Mind you this was not in a martial arts session but simply happened during fooling around with my family.

About a month ago (and about 35 years later!), I got on a taxi with my colleagues. We were on our way to a client meeting and were in a rush. I guess somebody should have reminded me that one should not hold onto the door frame of the car when another person is going to close it.

There was a thud…then shocked faces (because the door did not close and we had all figured out why by then), I must have turned pale as I turned to look at my hand expecting the worst…but to my surprise, nothing had happened. Sure, I had pinched the skin on my fingers and there was a little blood. But these were mere scratches. My fingers were totally fine. I could move them without pain. I could clench a fist.

What happened, between getting my hand kicked as a kid and getting my fingers jammed in a car door as a 45 year old? ….Regular hand conditioning drills. 15 years ago, after a number of short stints with a variety of martial arts, I settled for Thai Boxing training. While I have never been interested in entering the ring (I treasure my straight nose, and I really don’t enjoy hurting others), I have always been into Thai Boxing/Kick Boxing training.

In another article, I will write about the structure of my Thai Boxing workouts and the many benefits of it. Today, I would like to talk about one small aspect of a Boxing workout, which is hand conditioning.

In Thai Boxing, Kick Boxing, Karate, Boxing, Tae Kwon Do and all other combat sports where you strike with your hands, as well as in Judo, Aikido and Sambo – in Martial Arts where gripping strength is important, regular conditioning training for your hands is indispensible.

In Kyokushin Karate (極真空手), a semi- contact Karate style, notorious for its bone-breaking rigorous conditioning drills and devastating low kicks, you do pushups on your knuckles all the time. In fact, the hard core Kyokushin Karate guys (and girls) have strongly calloused knuckles, which are not pretty to look at but which surely protect their hands from injury.

So, if you would like to protect your wrists and fingers from injury (in freak accidents such a jamming our hands in doors etc.), I recommend hand, finger and wrist conditioning with the following sets of exercises. The “holds” are all isometric exercises in which you simply hold the position for a certain amount of time. The progression of holds are “dynamic” exercises. I these series of exercises they are simply pushups.

Fingertip Hold

– Get in a pushup position, press your fingertips in the floor and hold for time. Start off with 10 or 15 seconds and build up to 1 minute.

Beginners should build up gradually: You can begin in a pushup position on your knees and/or your fingers on a soft surface such as a Yoga mat or a carpet. Once that gets easy, get in to the full Fingertip Hold on a hard surface.

Advanced Version:

Fingertip Pushup

You can build up to full Fingertip Pushup by starting out on your knees and/or on a soft surface. Once that is not much of a stimulation anymore, move on up to the full Fingertip Pushup on the floor. 1 set of 10 to 30 reps, 1 to 3 times a week is plenty to strengthen your fingers and wrists.

Fist Hold

– Get in a pushup position, press your fists in the floor and hold for time. Start off with 10 or 15 seconds and build up to 1 minute.

Beginners should build up gradually: You can begin in a pushup position on your knees and/or your fist on a soft surface such as a Yoga mat or a carpet. Once that gets easy, get in to the full Fist Hold on a hard surface.

Advanced Version:

Fist Pushup

Again you can build up to full Fist Pushup by starting out on your knees and/or on a soft surface. Once that is not much of a stimulation anymore, move on up to the full Fist Pushup on the floor. 1 set of 10 to 30 reps, 1 to 3 times a week is plenty to strengthen your knuckles and wrists.

Wrist Hold

– Get in a pushup position, press your wrists in the floor and hold for time. Start off with 10 or 15 seconds and build up to 1 minute.

Beginners should build up gradually: You can begin in a pushup position on your knees and/or your wrists on a soft surface such as a Yoga mat or a carpet. Once that gets easy, get in to the full Wrist Hold on a hard surface.

Advanced Version:

Wrist Pushups

You can build up to full Wrist Pushup by starting out on your knees and/or on a soft surface. Once that is not much of a stimulation anymore, move on up to the full Wrist Pushup on the floor. 1 set of 10 to 30 reps, 1 to 3 times a week is plenty to strengthen your wrists.

I usually do only 1 set of Fingertip, Fist and Wrist Pushups after my regular workout once a week. This is enough to protect myself from injuries to my hands.

Walking to Washboard Abs

A couple of years ago I conducted yet another one of my little experiments. I set out to see how effective walking workouts are in terms of fat loss.

Now, I was already pretty lean at that time. I guess, I must have been around 12% body fat but the “ripped” or “cut” look still eluded me.

My dietary approach was pretty good but not as good as my fat loss diet course in EBU (www.easybodyupgrade.com) and O2E (www.obese2ease.com).

For many years, I have used and tried out lots of different diet & exercise approaches. I’ve never taken someone`s word for it but always made a point of trying out certain exercises and diet plans for myself. This allowed me to accumulate heaps of useful hands-on data.

So, here I was, putting early morning walking workouts on an empty stomach to the test. I walked on a daily basis. Every morning, after a cup of black coffee or tea and on an otherwise empty stomach, I went for a 45 minute walk around my neighborhood. It was pretty early, so the city was still sleeping and there was hardly any traffic in this part of town.

While I did not walk slowly for sure (I am naturally quite a fast walker…), I did not especially push the speed during these morning walking sessions either. I just walked at a steady, relatively fast pace, trying to be disturbed as little as possible by the few traffic lights that were on my route.

After only 5 of 6 workouts, the fat loss I experienced around my midsection was quite astonishing. The external oblique, which are abdominal muscles to both sides of your trunk, became pretty visible after only a week`s training.

External Obliques

As I mentioned before I was already quite lean at that time, but the direct effect of daily walking workouts on an empty stomach were astounding, nevertheless. I must have dropped 1 or 2% body fat in a week.

Walking (or even hiking) is often ridiculed by “real” athletes and sports people. Unnecessarily, in my opinion. I am a big fan of walking (and hiking) and go for longer walks whenever I can.

Below is an excerpt of the “O2E” Audio Class Step 2, which explains a little about the muscles and joints involved when walking:

“Walking is fundamental to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. To walk is a very basic movement of man. The walking movement recruits the strongest joints and the strongest and largest muscles of the human skeleton as the prime movers.

The hip joint and the surrounding muscles of the hip, the gluteus maximus, often called the glutes, which are the muscles of the backside, the hamstring muscles on the back of the upper leg, the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of the upper leg and the muscles of the lower leg all work together when taking a step and moving forward.

The secondary movers are the muscles of the back along the spine and around the shoulder joints. As the arms move rhythmically to the movement of the legs and the muscles of the shoulders and neck as well as all the small muscles along the spine receive a gentle workout.”

Walking workouts make perfect sense at every level of fitness. And, as I found out in my little experiment, walking workouts done on an empty stomach in connection with a smart dietary approach promote definite fat loss.

They can be done at almost every weather and almost everywhere. Everyone can adjust the pace to their individual needs. Everyone can start at a length they can easily handle and increase gradually as they get healthier, fitter and lighter.