This is something I've been meaning to write about a LONG, LONG time now, but haven't had the time to do so.
The park that I partake of my daily walk in has plenty of folks of all age groups exercising on a regular basis (which is a great thing). You'll find folks out for their walks (and/or Tai Chi, bodyweight stuff, et al) even on days so hot that you literally feel like a sponge that is slowly, but surely being SQUEEZED, dripping sweat with every movement.
And that is one area where the Chinese score over a lot of other countries - despite the recent surge in couch potatoes (young 'uns at that) and folks getting lazy, by and large, the Chinese still believe in daily exercise as "part of their lives" as opposed to a lot of developed countries where exercise is treated as something you have to "fit into your schedule" (and consequently becomes a chore).
But that isn't the topic of today's post.
A few weeks ago, I puffed up the hill, and almost collapsed once I was at the summit. It was an especially cloudy and muggy day, extremely overcast, and one could barely even BREATHE (you know, the sort of humidity that "clings" to your lungs) and that doesn't make climbing a steep hill any easier.
There weren't that many people that day, except for a few young men "lounging" about, if I may term it as that.
And as I completed 25 strict, letter perfect pushups, something I tend to do after a hill climb (and before my pulling movements), they looked on in amazement as if to say "in THIS heat? No way!?"
But one of them soon got down from his "perch" on a nearby railing and started to follow suit - and pounded out what seemed like 70 or so "rapidfire" pushups.
Or so he claimed.
His compatriots cheered him on, but to me it felt like watching a circus show - rather like watching a human machine gun hurriedly rep out half baked pushups, the arms barely bending, the chest so far from the floor that you could stick a barrel in the space - - and most of all, the horrible, jerky, up and down motion where the person exercising uses momentum rather than strength to complete whatever "movement" it is he is doing.
Uggggh, I thought.
But I'm used to this sort of foolishness, and I just sort of shook my head ruefully and didn't say much.
Fast forward a couple of days, and I see a wiry guy on the pull-up bar, a slim fella with very little fat on him, someone you'd think should be great at pull-ups done in proper form.
But as he "jumped" on to the pull-up bar, I watched from a distance, warming my grip up for a few tough sets of the monkey bars, and I soon found out that his fitness levels were nowhere near what I thought they should - or would, for that matter - be at.
Our friend completes the first rep by literally "jumping" half the way, and then goes half way back down, and then kicks both legs furiously, sort of like the "dolphin kick" when performing the butterfly in swimming, and that kick gets him to rep #2.
He gets to rep #4 or so like that, and then furiously contorts his face, scowling, and letting out "oohs and ahs" for the benefit of a few girls who had stopped to watch "the monster crank out the reps".
He finishes 20 or so reps like that, and then jumps down from the bar (the last 5 reps being half-half reps, in that neither did his chin get over the bar, and neither did he go even halfway down), grinning at the simpering women, and at that point I couldn't help but laugh, though I turned around quickly, not wanting him to notice.
But notice it he did, and he came on over to the monkey bars, which are three times as thick as the regular pull-up bars most folks prefer.
He jumped up, but fell off the bar quickly, much like a limpet detached from a tree trunk.
"That's not easy", he grimaced, staring at his hands (baby soft from what I could tell). "That's too hard on the palms!"
And as he said this I repped out a few "back and forth" reps across the monkey bars, swinging my way across, and the guy kept staring.
Then, he jumps on to the bars again, and starts to rep out pull-ups in the same shoddy manner, and at that point I stopped him.
"Not that way", I said, somewhat irritably. "All the way up, and THEN (this is the part he most hated), go ALL the way DOWN!"
He gaped at me as if I had asked him to dive to the bottom of the Pacific.
"Down", I repeated.
And after about 5 rounds of this conversation, he finally did lower down to a "flexed hang" letting out a genuine gasp this time.
He then flailed around with his legs for a while, but not even the most desperate of kicks could get him past half way point on this particular rep.
And he soon dropped from the bar like a dead weight and glared at me, as if I was responsible for his "failures" in front of the girls.
Soon, he walked off, muttering something about my calloused hands being "horrible".
Ok...horrible they are, but they sure can GRIP!
Now, the point of mentioning this jokerishness is not to poke fun at the two fine men I just spoke about, but rather to emphasize that "cheating" a.k.a "bouncing or kicking" your way through reps does YOU no good.
It may stroke your ego for a while, but when you do the exercise in right form, you'll soon find out that ALL your "effort" thus far has been in vain. More importantly, bouncing and kicking on pushups and pull-ups (for instance) is a great way to lead to shoulder and tendon injuries - not something you want for sure.
So don't be the guy that "bounces" out 50 plus reps and preens in front of the women. Be the guy who pumps out 15 slow, letter PERFECT reps, and BUILDS from there.
Don't be the guy who "kicks" his way to 20 half baked chins. Be the guy who spends hours honing his grip on THICK bars, more time in the dead hang position, FEELING his lats, and PERFECTING that first rep before moving on.
In other words, check your ego in at the door when training hard - and this goes for trainees at ALL levels.
Concentrate on the workout itself - - and the numbers will come. Believe you me, the numbers will come!
And here's a parting shot - if all this sounds too "silly" (pff! I'd rather "pound" out the reps rather than worry about this nonsense, some might say!) - just go back and read my post a while back on the "old man I met in China" right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/blog/item/167-the-old-man-i-met-a-couple-of-months-back-in-china. Read the part about a letter perfect handstand, the vice like grip - - the entire post, actually, and then read THIS one again, and that'll say it all.
Or at least, it should!
And thats it for today. Back again with more!
P.S.: - Pull-ups are one of the hardest movements for folks to even complete, let alone complete in proper form, but the benefits from doing these right, and doing these regularly are manifold. And the same holds true for handstand pushups. Weave a workout around these two movements (remember the leg work!), and you'll be looking like a human gorilla in no time at all!