The total body conditioning workout.

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Pushing Yourself to Higher Levels of Condition

Steve Maxwell

There are countless training and conditioning tools out there but one that's stood time's test is the push-up board. Push-ups can certainly be done on the ground, but by slightly elevating the surface, the movement is greatly enhanced. There are currently several push-up devices on the market that make use of the raised handle; however, the original and best is the push-up board, which goes back millennia, to a time when being in top physical shape literally meant survival in battle.

Imagine standing toe-to-toe, locked in combat, sword in hand, looking into the eyes of your enemy as you tried to kill one another! Do you think there is anything modern man could teach the ancient warrior about combat conditioning? I don't think so. But I'm sure we can learn much from men whose lives depended on their physical prowess in hand-to-hand combat.

The push-up board is very popular in the middle East and parts of Asia. The board originated in Persia and was brought by the Palovan princes to India. Later, its use spread to Burma and Thailand. Used primarily by wrestlers and martial artists, it was also adopted by physical culturists, whose interests were balanced muscular development.

An ancient tradition that has survived through today is the Zoorkhane. In Persian, this means "House of Power". I watched a video tape one of my jiu-jitsu students brought to me when he returned from a stay in Iran. He was visiting his parents and took the time to check out the local Zoorkhane. Additionally, he brought me the gifts of a push-up board and two wooden mils, or clubs. I became fascinated with the Zoorkhane rituals, the push-up sequences, and club swinging.

When the World Free Style Wrestling Championships were at Madison Square Garden in New York City, 2003, I went with the idea of writing an article about conditioning. I interviewed several Irani team members, including two former world champions. They emphasized that the Zoorkhane traditions, along with the folk-style wrestling they practice, was instrumental to their success.

I train religiously with my push-up board and appreciate the results: a more resilient, flexible elbow and shoulder girdle, increased spinal mobility and tremendous strength/endurance in the arms, chest and shoulders. These attributes have well-served me in my own athletic career, especially in jiu-jitsu. I also credit the push-up board with anti-aging benefits, because of the yoga-like movements which develop suppleness in the spine. The push-up board, combined with body weight rows or pull-ups, provides a complete and balanced upper body workout.

Steve Maxwell

The Push Up Board