Forgotten Exercises: The LaLanne push up


This website’s love for Jack LaLanne is perhaps firmly established through our previous posts. Well with that in mind, today’s post discusses the LaLanne push up, a fingertip push up now synonymous with one of twentieth-century’s most vibrant fitness personalities. So in today’s short post we’re going to examine the exercise, its history, and most importantly, its application.

Who was Jack LaLanne?

Bodybuilder, entrepreneur, nutritionist and TV personality, LaLanne’s versatility was as impressive as his longevity. From 1951 to 1985 Jack presented his own nationwide television programme dedicated to matters of health and fitness. He encouraged the average man and woman to get up off the couch, throw on some comfortable clothes and get exercising. For those more nutritionally minded, he recommended a variety of juices and holistic concoctions and for those interested in straight muscle building, his strength served as an inspiration. It was this versatility and his nationwide platform which appears to have instigated the creation of the Lalanne push-up.

An Exercise is Born…

Well maybe not born, after all push ups had been done for hundreds of years, but the LaLanne exercise was born in the late 1950s during Jack’s television programme. Entertaining requests and challenges from his viewers, Jack responded to one spectator’s request that he perform a series of finger-tip push ups. Ever the showman, Jack responded by not only fulfilling the request but exceeding it. Watch the clip below and you’ll see what I mean.

Without the pressure of an expectant public, you might be wondering what benefits the LaLanne push up, as shown above, has for your own training.

Implementing the LaLanne Push Up

Though classified as a push up I prefer to view this exercise primarily as an abdominal or ‘core’ exercise to use a buzz word that refuses to go away. Stretched out fully, the LaLanne push up forces you to maintain a strong brace position which, at least anecdotally in my own case, carries over to larger compound movements such as the squat and the deadlifts. In addition, I think we can all agree that it just looks like a cool movement…the chest equivalent of doing a muscle up.

So cards on the table, I’ve been practising this exercise for the past two months and still struggle to get past five reps at a time. In short, it’s tough, very tough. But it is manageable with a little time and a lot of perseverance. Given that I’m still very much a novice in this regard, the below video is one that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in progressing.

In terms of implementing the exercise into your workout routine, I use it at the beginning of my ab workouts before I’ve tired myself out. If you’re stuck on time or do abs after a body part, it may be worthwhile trying it after a legs or back session when you’ve already been bracing your core.

If nothing else, its worth trying to complete one perfect LaLanne push up in the safety of your own home. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will prove as humbling when you fail and rewatch the video of LaLanne happily doing a one handed version.

As always… Happy Lifting!

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