Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
A powerful and well-defined chest with powerful abs right below it, is one of the most desired physiques for just about any type of guy. The most common bodyweight exercises to do to accomplish this goal would be pushups and crunches—but many of my older clients have been doing those exercises most of their lives. They look to me to spice up their workouts with a new challenge. Thankfully, you can address all of these factors with on simple exercise variation: the pushup with shoulder tap. You’ll get the upper body challenge you want and the core test that you need (much like the plank variation). I like to use the exercise as a warmup for total body activation.
The exercise is a simple one. Get started by getting into a solid pushup position. Perform a standard pushup rep, keeping your focus on maintaining full-body tension and keeping your spine in line. Once you press back up to the top, lift one hand off the ground and tap your opposite shoulder, then return it to the floor. Move deliberately, without rushing. Engage your core keep your torso from overcompensating as you lift your hand. Once you tap both shoulders, you’ve completed one rep.
The beauty of this exercise is that it tests your whole body. The pushup hits your pecs and triceps, but when done properly with your glutes and core locked in, you’ll feel burn there too. Adding the shoulder tap only increases the core burn and pushes your stamina even further.
The key to maximizing all aspects of the exercise is stability. Keeping your core locked in and your torso motionless is the goal. You don’t want your hips to sag towards the floor or your butt to rise up toward the ceiling while performing the pushups. You want to keep your body from swaying from side-to-side or your shoulders to rotate when you do the shoulder tap. Try to prevent the your legs from rising up on each shoulder tap, too. Staying in the proper position will challenge your abs to resist rotation, one of your core’s most important functions.
If you want core burn and upper body strength, the pushup with shoulder tap is a bodyweight exercise you should have in your repertoire. Just remember stability, not speed, is the key. Try to do the exercise with a two-count for the pushups and the shoulder taps for more time under tension. Start with 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps, then scale up from there.
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