Back in the summer I shared an awesome workout challenge consisting of chin-ups and pushups that I aptly called the “Chin-up/Pushup Countdown Challenge.”
It’s pretty simple but damn hard, and I’ve received a ton of great feedback in the past six months from people who’ve tried it really liked it. You can read that here: http://www.benbruno.com/2013/08/fun-workout-challenge/
I must say that I personally love a good challenge and love ditching the script every once in a while and just seeing what the hell I’m made of.
Thing is, a lot of workout challenges are dangerous and involve exercises with a high risk factor.
If you want to test yourself, do it with safer, self-limiting exercises where you the risk of injury is far less.
With that in mind, I want to share another countdown challenge. But whereas the chin-up/pushup challenge is an upper body challenge, this one is total body challenge consisting of front squats and feet elevated pushups.
Here’s how it goes:
10 Front Squats
20 Feet Elevated Pushups
8 Front Squats
16 Feet Elevated Pushups
6 Front Squats
12 Feet Elevated Pushups
4 Front Squats
8 Feet Elevated Pushups
2 Front Squats
4 Feet Elevated Pushups
In total, it comes out to 30 front squats and 60 feet-elevated pushups.
The goal is to complete the challenge unbroken, moving from one set to the next without excessive rest. You don’t have to spaz out like you’re a Nascar pit crew member, but just go back and forth at a steady clip.
I like to use a box on the front squats, but these aren’t traditional box squats where you’re sitting way back and rocking onto the box. The box is just there to serve as a depth gauge for the squats since there’s a tendency to start cutting them high anytime you’re tired or pushing yourself, and it also serves as a way to elevate your feet for the pushups.
That being said, you certainly don’t need to use a box if you don’t like it, and if feet elevated pushups are too tough, regular pushups are fine too.
For the pushups, I actually put a plate on the floor to serve as a depth gauge (lightly tap your forehead on the plate). That’s not necessary either, but I find it helpful because it’s easy to start doing half reps when you’re tired and/or rushing.
Speaking of rushing… I’m actually not a big fan of doing challenges against the clock because I think it’s easy to start using crappy/dangerous form. As such, I don’t like the idea of continually trying to beat your time on this challenge.
If you do it unbroken moving swiftly from one set to the next, the goal should be to finish in the whole thing in under five minutes. Once you can do that, add weight to the front squats. Start with a very light weight and build up over time. The first set or two may feel a little easy, but once you really start huffing and puffing and get deeper into the challenge, the weight gets heavy in a hurry. Make your goal to be able to complete the challenge with your bodyweight on the bar.
You can do this either as a standalone workout when you’re crunched for time, or as a finisher after you’ve done your heavy lifting.
I personally like working up and doing some heavy front squats and some chin-ups and then dropping the weight down on the squats and crushing a set of this challenge. It might all take 20-30 minutes tops, but it makes for a heck of a brutal workout.
I’ll tell you this; it feels A LOT longer than five minutes while you’re going through it.
It’s also easy to scale it. If 20 pushups are too much, start with 16 pushups, or 12, or wherever you’re at. Just do twice as many pushups as squats in each round for a total of five rounds. Furthermore, if front squats are too challenging, do goblet squats instead.
It’s a great little challenge that I think you’ll really “like.” And by like, I mean you’ll probably be cussing me out while you do it, but once you catch your breath and get your bearings, you’ll be glad you did it.
Here’s a video of me going through it. If you’re the type that enjoys watching others suffer, you’ll really enjoy this
Good luck, and let me know how it goes. Please share with your buddies too.
As you well know by now if you read my blog with any regularity, I have a not-so-secret affinity for chin-ups and do them on the regular, usually at least 2-4 times a week.
As such, I’ll often vary the rep scheme and/or the volume, switch between weighted and bodyweight chins, or do different chin-up variations.
One variation that I like to do sometimes is something that I call “Pull Apart” Ring Chins. Again, as it typical with me, it’s a boring name, but it’s a good exercise so that’s all that matters to me.
Rather than do a tradition ring chin-up where you keep your elbows in close to your body and think about pulling them down and back, flare your elbows straight out to the sides and make like you’re trying to pull the rings apart as you pull yourself up. Keep the elbows flared out to the sides on the eccentric and lower yourself slowly.
In bodybuilding lingo, think like you’re trying to make a rear double biceps pose.
These are A LOT harder than regular ring chins, but they feel awesome.
If they’re too hard, you can start with what I called “Fly Away” Ring Chins (again, dumb name) where you pull yourself up normally and then flare the elbows out to the sides on the eccentric. Like this:
These are great too, and I wrote more about them here about a year ago: http://www.benbruno.com/2013/03/fly-away-ring-chinups/
For my fellow chin-up fiends, here’s a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to try. Good luck and have fun!