A Cool Pushup and Split Squat Variation

One of the more common questions I receive during the Summer relates to creating a training plan while going on vacation. This is understandable, as exercise is therapeutic for most of the people I work with, and they also don't want to take too much time off and see all their hard work go out the window. Allow me to make two quick points:

  1. You're on vacation. V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n. As such, your body needs a mental and physical break from your typical daily routine (which, if it's anything like mine, can feel like you've morphed into a pinball and dropped right in the middle of one of the most advanced pinball machines ever. Good for the enjoyment of children. Not so much for the ball).
  2. At the same time, getting in some physical activity is still more beneficial than not, due the fact you're most likely on a different sleep schedule and indulging yourself with copious amounts of food. As such, I primarily like to stick to bodyweight movements while on vacation. This way, your joints and nervous system still receive a break, all while receiving a training effect and enjoying the health benefits of physical activity.

However, this post isn't about writing a sample vacation plan. But, the whole vacation thing did get me thinking of some exercise variations that I like to use both during travel and in my normal training.

Many times I find that, while I love bodyweight movements, doing the typical repetitions isn't quite challenging enough if I'm keeping the reps to ten and below. As such, I'll utilize a variation of a pushup or split squat to spice things up a bit. While there are literally hundreds of variations to use (trust me, we've listed them), one of my favorites is the ISO hold.

You can use isometric training during virtually any lift, but I particularly like them for pushup and split squat variations. You can do 3-5 reps holding each for a given time, or do a long hold at the beginning/end of the reps. See below for a few examples:

1. Pushup ISO Hold into Reps

Here is Kelsey (my better half) doing a 10-second iso hold into reps:

2. BSS ISO Hold into Reps

Now doing the same thing but with the bulgarian split squat. I especially like these for teaching proper positioning of the front leg, on top of receiving a nice stretch in the hip flexors of the rear leg:

These variations are also fantastic in these scenarios:

  • Equipment limitation. Say your dumbbell rack only goes up to 50lbs and you can do 6-8 perfect split squats with the heaviest dumbbells. Adding an isometric hold can automatically increase the challenge. For pushups, you could easily put a weight on your back and do the same thing if seeking ways to make pushups more difficult.
  • During a training block in which you need to minimize soreness.
  • Vacation. You can enjoy the benefits of bodyweight training while at the same time adding a challenge if needed.

The list could go on, but I gotta make like a baby and head outta here.