T Nation

Upper Body Based Conditioning


Guys, I pulled my hamstring 2 days ago and I'm looking for some ideas of what I can use as upper body only/mostly conditioning in the mean time to improve my conditioning (and keep fat loss going) while I let the hammy heal. Can anyone point me to some decent suggestions? Virtually everything I've found so far has a significant lower body component. I was thinking about finally investing in a thick rope and try battle ropes, but I'm at a loss beyond that.

As far as the hamstring is concerned, the pull is in my lower hamstring and I feel it mostly while trying to do knee flexion type movements, but I can still do some leg movements that emphasize hip extension. I obviously haven't tried to do anything heavy yet, but I think I could do some light movements as part of a circuit/interval. Anyways, I would appreciate any help you guys can offer.


I did that a couple of years ago man. It sucks. I was able to do some tabata style Military Presses. Ropes are a good idea. A buddy of mine in a wheelchair used to use a hand-pedal. Rowing if you have access to a machine sounds possible for you if you limit leg movement. I think I did a few "push-pull" combos with really low weights. Complexes will work, especially if you can do Stiff-legged deads and/or GMs. Can you do bearcrawls? I couldn't, but it sounds like your pull is lower than mine was. Swimming if possible man, swimming is awesome. ummm...I'm pretty tired, so I'll stop rambling. Maybe I that was a little helpful


Swimming and push up/inverted row circuits.


Haven't tried to do stiff-legged deads but I get the feeling it would difficult. Kb/db swings are out as well. Most movements that begin to stretch the muscle are the ones that cause pain. Bear crawls would probably be a great idea. Thanks cuz I had completely forgotten about those. Swimming is a good idea as well but I just need to find a pool close enough. I do appreciate the ramble. Thank you.


Ring strength sequences would be another excellent option if you have access to rings and the requisite strength to do at least very basic elements.


The only bad thing with inverted rows is that they aggravate the pull when I prop my legs up. Swimming is probably a really good idea (the simplest ideas :)). I just need to find a pool close enough to work or home. Thank you.


I do have access to rings but the strength to do basic elements...well...that depends what you would call the basic elements. I doubt my strength levels would meet the level you mean because I cannot do any of the holds like the back lever or iron cross. The best I can manage is basic bodyweight movements like dips(probably 12 is my max) or very limited rom on things like a maltese or back lever. Could you give me an example of the kind of things you meant?


swim a few miles a day, (if you can) with a pull bouy between your legs.. all upper body..


Tabata pushups.


Iron cross is definitely not "basic" level.

Something like:
-muscle-up (jumping or kipping if need be)
-L-sit (tucked if need be)
-press to shoulder stand (again tucked if need be)
-lower back down to support
-lower back down to dead hang
-pull to inverted hang
-inverted pull-up
-skin the cat
-pull back to dead hang


Swimming seems to be the popular choice (for a good reason). I just need to see if there are any pools I can use for the time being. None of my local friends or family members have pools nor does my current gym so it might not be something I can use.


Good to know that the iron cross isn't basic because I'm not even close to it.

I can perform most of those circuit movements and the whole thing looks killer, and something I'm interested to try. Thank you.


It is an approach to up reps with a good amount of work. Readers digest version, find a 12 rep max as a starting point. Aim for a percentage goal increase, perhaps like 25%... Whatever that weight is, do 12 sets of 2 with that weight. Start at the top of every minute. When 12 sets of two is done, go to 8 sets of 3. When successful, 6 sets of 4. When successful, 5 sets of 5. When successful, retest. One upper body pull, one upper body push. Initially not too demanding but 5 reps at every minute is not a lot of rest with a high load.

It is with a decent amount of weight, which would be increasing the second time through. Subsequent runs through would require a less ambitious percentage increase. Another choice is to start the program with a 6 rep max or 8 rep max, still doing 12 x 2. I am doing 6 rep max. First set with 2 reps, it felt like too much rest time. When it got to set 8 to 12, somehow the time seemed to quicken. I'm using high high incline press and neutral grip pulldown. Strict form.


row machine is out, cause your gonna feel your hams for sure.

heavy bag work, speedbag work, and even shadowboxing. i usually do 3 min on 1 min rest... and take make shadow boxing more work, you can use a light weight... your shoulders will get hammered for sure.

also, skipping rope might be a good idea. a good rope skip mostly bounces on the toes, and wont engage your hams much.. try it out. ITS ALL ABOUT THE JUMP ROPE.


Interesting idea. There are so many good suggestions in this thread that my hamstring will be fine before I can try them all lol. Hammy feels alot better already but I've read too many times about rushing back too early from injuries to be that dumb.


Oh jeez. Where's a good facepalm pic when u need one. I cannot believe I didn't think about jumping rope. Sometimes the simplest things never cross my mind lol. Shadow boxing is a decent idea. No heavy bag around to use.


fill a burlap sack with old t-shirts and beat the shit. out of it... mind your knuckles and wrists..


1-leg burpees?


Try the Texas pushup challenge. Tried it tonight after an upperbody session. Was much harder than expected. Up until the 7th "set" I was touching my chest to the ground and briefly releasing my hands between reps. By the last 3 sets I was only going 90 degrees. Did it in a little under 1:45. Goal is to get all sets with chest touching floor/raising hands in under 1:30. Give it a shot.


Push - Pull - Abs - Repeat
Maybe 15 min. 3 X daily,, a football game on TV just WO each commercial.
Reading your post i too tought of swimming.
To loose calories a cold bath/shower, just move and or breathe deeply to tolerate the cold longer.
Sex 3 X daily is an other option...