Following a 1991 article published in Iron Man magazine, I received a ton of calls asking how it was that I was able to win the Masters Mr. America using the push-up alone for upper body development. The first problem is that I did not do only push-ups for upper body development. Unfortunately, the way the article was written led many to this false belief. I would be quick to set them straight. I did use push-ups, but used them along with other apparatus-based upper body exercises. Push-ups were a great addition to my routine when I was unable to do bench presses and other apparatus-based chest exercises due to an injury.
My conversations with people about the Iron Man article typically led to me sharing my repertoire of “non-apparatus training” techniques for the entire body. I believe in the power of non-apparatus training techniques when you cannot perform apparatus-based exercises due to injury, lack of equipment, or any other valid reason. However, you have to have to perform non-apparatus techniques at a level of intensity that would emulate what you would perform on an apparatus. You have to use appropriate set and rep counts to challenge your body in such a way as to create parallel gains to what you’d see using apparatus. I would not recommend replacing an apparatus-based training routine with a non-apparatus-based routine. Use non-apparatus training to supplement an apparatus-based routine, not replace it. The bottom line is that non-apparatus training is helpful when you don’t want to give up your training routine altogether due to circumstances which prevent you from using an appartus.
Now that we’ve set the fact straight, I would like to share my recommendations for a non-apparatus training routine should you ever find yourself in a situation where you would need to implement one. I’ll highlight some upper body techniques in my next post and lower body techniques in the following post.
Until next time, keep training hard.