Many people ask me, “Wendie, what is your favorite full body exercise for strength and cardio?” Hands down I always tell them that the tiger bend push up is one of my all-time favorites. Why? Because it works your body from the neck to the toes. It can be a cardiovascular move if you go through the movement quickly or more of a strength building and fat burning move if you go through the move slow and controlled. Depending on the day and the plans I have for my workout determines the speed at which I do the tiger bend push up. Some days, I may only do the panther stretch push up and add a tiger bend for every 5 or 10 performed. I mix it up so it doesn’t become monotonous. When I injured my shoulder in 2003 in a snowmobile accident, the panther stretch was one of three moves I did regularly to assist in the healing process. Once my shoulder healed and I had the flexibility and strength for the “swooping” action in the tiger bend push up, I started incorporating those as well.
Here’s how you do the move: Start with your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and your head tucked in and looking directly at your feet. Your a wider than should-width apart and your legs and back are straight. Your butt is the highest point of the body. (Like a “downward dog” position). Next bend your elbows while descending in a smooth circular arc by brushing your head, then your nose, chin, and chest to the floor and continue until your arms are straight, back flexed, hips almost (but not quite) touching the floor. At the top of the movement, look at the ceiling while your consciously flex your triceps and while exhaling. Then pop right back to beginning position with head looking back at your toes. For the Panther stretch version: Beginning position is the same, but you don’t bend your elbows on your follow through. Instead keep your arms locked and straight and just shift your weight to end up the same in the end as the tiger bend push up. More or less, you are just eliminating the “swooping” motion.
In the beginning , anywhere from 15 to 25 repetitions is excellent. But, don’t be frustrated with how many you may or may not do. Just listen to your body and you’ll be fine. Eventually, the goal would be to routinely do sets of 25-50 or more, you will gain superb shoulder, chest, arm, and both upper and lower back development.
In my opinion, this is the single greatest exercise. Repetition for repetition it delivers the highest level of strength, flexibility, and endurance of any calisthenic exercise known. In fact, it is the one exercise that comes closet to duplicating the exact movement of large jungle cats. They are strong, flexible, and fast on their feet. It is truly one magnificent exercise. Hope you’ll incorporate it into your daily routine and watch your physique quickly “take shape.”