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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2000-07-28

Healthy Work Habits for Sports Photographers
By Sam Mircovich, Reuters

Photo by Kim Kulish

Photo by Kim Kulish
I've just hit another slump. I haven't hit the gym in the last two weeks. I've been sitting at home watching survivor and big brother, having become addicted to voyeur TV. After all it's just a natural extension of our jobs. We get paid big (or small) money to observe and record what happens before us. Usually the subject we are watching doesn't give us much thought, unless he needs to vent his steroid rage at someone (luckily, a stupid question from a fish hack directs most of this rage away from us).

So I notice that I'm feeling weaker, have no pep, and in the heat of my living space, it's real easy to come back from breakfast and go back to bed. Ok I have a really easy life, I'm not bragging. I know its time to get my ass out of bed and get to work. If I had a regular job I wouldn't have any time to attempt physical health and beauty.

RIGHT! ON TO THE CHEST- THE TECHNICAL DULL STUFF.

Pectoralis major is a large muscle rising from the side of the sternum, the shaft of the clavicle, and cartilage of the first 7 ribs, with fibers converging to attach to the humerus. Pectoralis minor lies immediately deep to pectoralis major. The pectoralis minor courses from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ribs the scapula. The primary function of the pectoralis minor is stabilization of the shoulder girdle. The pectoralis minor also assists the lower trapezius. Subclavius is a small muscle who's primary function is stabilization of the clavicle, and hence the shoulder girdle.

The chest is a primary muscle group that when exercised, also works a secondary muscle group, the triceps. You use your chest muscles and the triceps when you do a bench press. The triceps help stabilize the arms while pushing the weight with the chest. As you lower the weight, the triceps are taking the load, stabilizing and slowing the rep so you don't lose it and embed it in your chest. So when we do a chest exercise we are working two muscle groups that act as one.

If your 're stuck in a hotel room without a fully equipped gym, you can still exercise the chest. It's called the PUSH UP. And I know it conjures up memories of sadistic drill sergeant or football coaches, but guess what. It makes you stronger. Swearing under your breath did less good than being a young hoodlum needing discipline. If you were constantly told "DROP AND GIVE ME 50" then you must be Arnold Friggin' Scharzenegger by now.

Photo by Kim Kulish

Photo by Kim Kulish
Another exercise that works the chest as a secondary muscle is the dip. Here the emphasis is on the triceps, with the chest getting the stretch at the bottom of the movement. Also helps prevent those flabby blowing in the wind underarms. Not useful, unless you are looking for a career as a flag. It makes you look better in your photo vest too - though I have no idea why anyone would want to wear one.

PUSH ME AGAIN AND IM GONNA CALL MY MOMMY

When doing push-ups, hand position affect what part of the chest will get the workout. A wider stance works the outer and upper chest as well as the deltoids of the shoulder. It stresses the upper chest to square off the top of the pectorals. A medium hand stance works all involved muscles, the tricep, chest deltoids, more evenly. A close hand stance works your inner and upper chest, as well putting a heavier load on your triceps. It helps build definition and define the inner space of the pectorals. Any of the push-ups discussed here can be done in either or both stances.

OK- lets break down the push-up. For those of us with no upper body strength, we can do the easy push-up. Lower yourself to your knees, lean forward and keep the back straight. Using the knees as a fulcrum, lower yourself slowly until you're about to inhale the dust bunnies on the floor of the Motel 6 where you are staying. But don't let your upper body touch the floor! Emphasis on slow controlled movement. YOU DONT HAVE TO DO 50-YET. Target 3 sets of 8-10 reps. try this both wide and closed hand stances. Feel the difference?

Another easy variation in to stand facing a wall, feet out so you lean into the wall at about a 45 degree angle. Push out, push in, keeping the back rigid and head straight. Looks stupid, not something to do in a crowded room. But it will help you develop strength in the upper body.

Keep adding sets and reps until these become way to easy and you don't break a sweat. Then move on to the traditional push up.

I'VE DONE SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THIS BUT NAKED

Photo by Kim Kulish

Photo by Kim Kulish
The biggest mistake in doing the traditional push up is not keeping the back straight and the head aligned with the spine. Your stomach should not touch the floor before you face gets there. Keep the spine rigid to avoid stressing out your lower back when it is forced to carry the weight that should be supported by the arms. Think of yourself as a plank of lumber. Again, lower yourself slowly, not touching the floor with any part of your body. Of course, it's tougher if you do these naked. Wear a jock or a sports bra to keep from cheating.

Again try these with all three grips to work different parts of the chest. Aim for 3 sets of 8-15 reps, but no more than 20 sec between sets to get those muscles burning.

My dirty mind has come up with allot of different foreplay/exercise variations of the push-up. Remember to perform with a stiff back, and a controlled movement. Until you pick up the tempo; at that point you won't be doing pushups anymore.

WHY IS MY HEAD LOWER THAN MY FEET?

Photo by Kim Kulish

Photo by Kim Kulish
Get that big old cabbage case that you use to ship your gear, turn it on its side and prop your feet atop it. Or place your feet on the crummy hotel mattress. Again, a slow controlled movement down, and then back up to full extension. This variation emphasizes the upper chest, and with the hands placed close together, will develop the inner chest as well.

When the regular set/rep combo gets too easy, then up the reps. As you get stronger; doing 50 or 100 pushups in a row will be easy. If you need another challenge, try THE SUPER MACHO UPSIDE DOWN SHOULDER PUSH UP (ok I just made that up.)

With your back to a wall, place your hands on the ground and slowly back your feet UP the wall, as if you might stand on your head. Aim for a 45-degree angle, keep your head straight and lower yourself. USE CAUTION, THIS ISNT A PUSHUP FOR EVERYONE. It takes some strength because your shoulders and arms are supporting most of your weight. Just try one or two at first, paying attention for any pain in the shoulder. Remember Sam's Basic Training Rule # 567 - IF IT HURTS DON'T DO IT! (Unless it feels better after repetition.)

DIPPITY DOO-DOO

These are real easy, and they work the chest as a secondary muscle group. Sit on the edge of a bed, bench, or low wall. With your legs straight in front of you, arms at your side and elbows pointed back, lower yourself as face as you can go and then extend back. The chest gets the stretch at the bottom of the movement. If its handy, prop your feet up on a chair or coffee table, and do it again. Use the regular set/rep combo and pump up those arms and chest.

When that gets easy, prop a 600mm on your lap and try again. Adding weight to the dip will help increase your strength and your flexibility. And making it part of your foreplay will keep your interested in exercise.

WHAT NO MORE MUSCLE GROUPS?

Wow, I think we've covered all the major muscle groups in these past months. What the hell am I going to do now? I hope it's been helpful and that some people are paying more attention to their bodies as we put it through the daily stresses of our jobs.

Next time I will discuss the in's and out's of joining a gym, including my list of do's and don'ts, and what hotel gym equipment to avoid. If you have any interesting gym stories email me at SMIRCO@AOL.COM. Until then keep it up and keep it tight.

(Sam Mircovich is a contract photographer with Reuters based in Southern California. He will be applying his healthy techniques this Fall when he covers his first Olympic Games.)


Related Email Addresses: 
Sam Mircovich: SMIRCO@AOL.COM

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