A lot of very cool things are happening at the moment, which is great, but it has kept me from writing as much as I’d like to here! So in order to make up for that this will be a full featured fun post, hopefully including topics you’re jazzed about as much as I am.
First off, I recently had an email inquiry: “what else can you do with Neuro-Grips besides push-ups?” I didn’t know this person’s fitness level so I provided a large variety of options. After writing them out, I was inspired to live stream some of them along with various tips from a really cool place in downtown Durham.
The live stream contains as much of the info as I remembered from writing in the email that I had time to demo before going to systema class… I was cautious not to overdo it though… which you will soon understand why in a later part of this post!
So… what CAN you do with Neuro-Grips? A whole heck of a lot! Only limitations are your imagination, and fitness/strength/coordination. But that’s ok too, since that’s what we’re working to improve anyway. Jon Bruney (of Neuro-Mass fame) has written a new book all about Neuro-Grips (coming soon from Dragon Door) including a full progression, specific warmups, and exercises ranging from basic shoulder pre-hab/rehab all the way up to gravity-defying mega-stunts… I was grateful to be on that extremely cool, challenging photoshoot alongside Robert Miller. Even though it was a few months ago, I am proud to say that no one faceplanted at any point. WHEW. Can’t wait for you to see it, and I will be sure to give you an ETA on it as soon as I hear anything.
In the mean time…
When you first get your Neuro-Grips it can be very helpful to practice using them on either a rug, beach towel, turf, or a thin yoga mat, that slight cushioning will allow for a tiny bit of forgiveness as you’re figuring them out. It will also provide some cushioning in case you fall over (most people do at first) In the video above you’ll see me kind of “roll out” sideways onto the grass. Be sure to not use something that’s TOO squishy… if the ground had been too sandy or soft then it would have presented some problems, likewise a super thick workout mat can end up providing too much lee-way which will be the wrong kind of challenge when you’re just getting started with the Neuro-Grips. The most difficult surfaces tend to be concrete or hardwood, but try to avoid those at first.
1. Straight arm planks… Getting up into a straight arm plank and holding it for a count of 10 is a great way to start. Choose a hip-width stance for your feet at first, and you can even start from the knees if it feels really difficult at first. Once you get better at planks on the Neuro-Grips, play around with feet together then one foot on top of the other. You can even do one arm Neuro-Grip planks which will get your grip and your brain fired up.
2. Push-ups of course! Start with super strict knee push-ups to figure out what you need to do in the standard version, you’ll see how the movement changes the balance challenge, and this is quite possibly one of the greatest uses for knee push-ups if you ask me. You’ll also observe the increased range of motion the tall Neuro-Grips provide while you’re working with a shorter lever (your body is shortened). Then… when you are ready which may be that session or maybe in a few weeks or months depending on where you are in your fitness journey, you might want to progress to full push-ups with the Neuro-Grips. Start from a kneeling knee push-up position and step back one leg at a time to get ready. Choose a hip-width stance at first, eventually narrowing the stance when you’re ready. Then down the line of course you can pick up a foot, stack your feet, etc. …and hopefully one day knock out the elite challenge of a one arm Neuro-Grip push-up!
3. Anything you can do in a push-up or quadruped position – soooo mountain climbers, plank jacks, burpees (see video above for all of these) along with bear crawls, regular crawls and I’ve even done Neuro-Grip crawls while dragging a light sled. Get your imagination going!
4. Neuro-Grip planking while…. stacking blocks moving blocks or being a complete geek and truing to set up a scholastic style chess set… I didn’t have any nice wooden blocks so I got it out… my abs were reminding me about it for about 3 days.
Again, I can’t wait for you to see the Neuro-Grips book, I enjoyed reading it before the photoshoot and the actual experience of the photoshoot was just pure joy… challenging joy but joy none-the-less.
Now that we’ve had this discussion… Here’s why I haven’t been programming standard push-ups into my workouts lately: we’ve been doing OODLES OF THEM when we warm up for Systema class twice a week. The total for tonight’s class during the warmup was 120 knuckle push-ups. That’s a lot of knuckle push-ups. This is good though because while I like working on absolute strength and a fair amount of hypertrophy the one thing I tend to neglect is most forms of endurance. The challenge of the warm-up for every systema class has been filling that gap very nicely for me recently. Thankfully most of our super high rep endurance warmups tend to focus on push-ups, sprints, jogs (as rest), leg raises to plow, sit-ups (not the bad kind), and bodyweight squats, crawls, lunges, etc.. The squats feel like a break to me, and I have to make sure to try and mask my relief when we just sit in the bottom of a squat (that is actual rest at this point). When there’s a class full of your cool new friends, it makes working on endurance (at least for me) that much easier. Good. And I get to learn more about systema. Win Win Win Win.
Our lead instructor at NC Systema, Glenn was generous enough to be interviewed and answer my 1,000,000 questions last week. One of the main objectives I had for our discussion was learning how to modify my strength and fitness training to support and also enhance my study of this unique martial art. Without giving too much away, I was pleased to hear that my heavy but amophic program I’m working with right now seems to be extremely compatible. So, when I DO practice push-ups with my workout workouts they tend to be in a more strength and power context: extremely difficult variations for lower reps (Neuro-Grip push-ups, push-ups with feet raised, handstand push-ups, plyo push-ups). This plus working in different planes seems to fit the bill. The Systema class warmup doesn’t seem to use any overhead pressing or pulling (might be due to our training location, will ask) so on the exercises in that direction (kettlebell overhead presses, pull-ups, weighted pull-ups) I practice the full range of them throughout the week. Proud to report I hit a PR just last night – double 22kg kettlebell overhead clean and press with strict form. Very proud of that… double 24kg I’ve got you in my sights…
In case you missed it, here’s a couple other things which were written in the gaps between blog posts here:
Interview with Levi Markwardt (just wait until you hear the wild things THIS guy does with Neuro-Grips… makes my Neuro-Grip Burpee, Ring Pull-Up Knife Throw stunt* look like kindergarten)
My recent-ish blog post on the PCC Blog: How to Restore Desk-Damaged Physiques with Calisthenics which will hopefully help you and/or your general population clients who spend too much time at their desks!