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Coach Sommer

Bowers - An Advanced Pushup Variation

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Coach Sommer

Bowers are an advanced pushup variation that I use quite a bit with my stronger athletes. It is very similar to a hollow back press handstand; however in a hollow back there is generally an upright support phase (L-sit or straight body support) at the end of the repetition, while in a Bower the bottom support phase is a bent arm planche. This change in the bottom support position significantly increases the time under tension for this movement, which in turn results in accelerated strength gains.

Amazingly, this one exercise will strongly stress the chest, shoulders, upper back, lower back and arms - all within a single repetition. It also forces the development of a reasonable amount of coordination, balance and agility. It is also valuable in that the floor variation of the Bower can be developed entirely on one's own, without requiring the assistance of a spotter or specialized equipment and yet provides a tremendous overall upper body workout.

Bowers may begin from either from a handstand or a pseudo planche pushup. For this discussion, we will begin the Bower from the pseudo planche pushup. As the body begins to reach the limit of the forward lean during the pushup, and without allowing the chest to touch the floor, strive to pull the feet up off of the floor. Tightly contracting the glutes and lower back, continue to pull the legs up higher behind the body while pulling the shoulders underneath the hips. The higher the legs rise, the more the shoulders will pull underneath. Upon reaching the handstand, note that the shoulders are now directly underneath the hips. The motion may now reverse, allowing the shoulders to extend back out front of the hands while the hips and legs lower down in the rear. At the conclusion of the first repetition, the body will now be in a bent arm planche position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

In the developmental stages, the back will have a tendency arch. This is acceptable initially, as long as efforts are made to progress onward to performing the Bowers with a flat back as the ultimate end goal.

Obviously the Bower is an extremely demanding exercise, requiring a premium of strength and athletic ability. However, all hope for mere mortals is not lost. The following is a nice progression for building the physical strength necessary to perform Bowers:

1] Pushups; focus on a completely tight and flat back during each repetition.
2] Pseudo planche pushups. During this variation the shoulders will be far in front of the hands, with the hands as close to the hips as possible.
3] Pseudo planche pushup pulling the feet up off of the ground at the bottom of each repetition. Do not allow the chest to touch during the lift.
4] Headstand pushups
5] Chest roll to headstand and then push up to handstand. For the chest roll to headstand, begin in an arched pushup support position with the arms straight, shoulders high and the hips on the ground. Now roll forward quickly, bending the arms and rolling the body upward allowing the legs, hips, stomach and chest to all roll up and off of the the ground in succession until the headstand position is reached.
6] Chest roll to handstand; as with the chest roll to headstand, be sure to initially use a big roll with a lot of speed.
7] Chest roll to handstand with slow negative back to the floor. Initially simply lower as slowly as possible. Over time, as your strength improves, attempt to add a static hold that remains clear of the floor at the bottom of the repetition.
8] Gradually reduce the amount and speed of the chest roll to handstand and continue with the slow negative and possible static hold during the descent.
9] Perform an actual Bower with no speed or chest roll used to supplement the movement during the press to handstand.
10] Add an additional ascent to the Bower after the bottom static hold.

For those who are superhuman, the above progressions may all also be performed on the Xtreme Rings with the height set just off of the ground 8).

The preceding video is a nice video demonstration of a Bower performed by a very talented seven year old!

Yours in Fitness,
Coach Sommer

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David Picó García

This kid is strong. I was doing this exercise some weeks ago, form handstand lowering with straddle legs. But i dont have enough strength at shoulders to return to handstand. Working on headstand pushups although i can do 7 on wall. I do the exercise on low paralletes son the headstand is more a handstand.

Thank you for the video.

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Guest Chiflado

Thanks for the video! That guy is strong! Hehe I will have to start with the planche pushups... :P

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kbryk

Those aren't planche push ups, to have planche push ups you need to lock your elbows, those are more of a 90 degree holllow press up I guess you would call them, there is also a variation with the elbow lever to handstand.

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Guest Chiflado

Whoops I meant pseudo planche pushups (listed as one of the exercises to help progress towards a Bower.)

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Ricky Dawson

Thought this vid was relevent...

I find it amazing that this is under the catagory of 'basic strength' :D

enjoy

Ricky, London, England

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Coach Sommer

Yes, I have seen that video. My athletes and I found it amusing that that constitutes the "world" record.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Ricky Dawson

Hi coach,

out of interest do you mean because of the number of reps or the form?

very interested on your view, what sort of numbers could your athletes reach?

Ricky

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Coach Sommer

Without seriously focusing on increasing the reps on the movement, one of my athletes was capable of performing 7-8 reps; and this was at 11 years old.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Terry

A little more detail on progression No5,Chest roll to headstand, would be useful. Do you roll over your face or what ?

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Coach Sommer

Once the chest is reached during the roll, you should continue to pull the heels over the head while pressing down strongly and lifting yourself to a headstand. My recommendation is to avoid rolling on your face :wink:.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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aw0n0
Chest Roll Clarification

Once the chest is reached during the roll, you should continue to pull the heels over the head while pressing down strongly and lifting yourself to a headstand. My recommendation is to avoid rolling on your face :wink:.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

rofl... :lol:

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pepsiaddict

Hello!

I have a stupid question. Is it ok to have your fingers facing to the side because it feels easier for my wrists and i can go more forward.

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Coach Sommer

Yes, fingers to the side is fine. My personal preference is for fingers at a 45 degree angle; however you should experiment to find the hand position that is most comfortable for you.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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pepsiaddict

Couple more things!

Does it develop the right kind of strength if i try to raise myself up from tucked position with bent arms, raising lowerback and hips first? . And then the second thing, should i try to progress via static holds that final bowers position? Like the planche progression but in this case with bent arms? Thank you!

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Guest Chiflado

I have a friend workin' on the bower progressons (he told me it's one of his life goals... something to that effect. :P) right now he's around progressions 2 and 3... what sort of pulling exercise would help to balance all the pressing that he's getting from the bower progressions?

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Spanyard

I,m at step 3 of the progression, pseudo planche push ups with feet no touching the ground at the end of each rep. So my questions are two, first, if I have to ascend with my feet in the air, and if its like that, if its ok to arch my back a little while I push to ascend, I guess it will be fine reading how step 4 is, but I want to be sure, thanks :D

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matthew.percussion

Isn't this also called a hollow back press?

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Coach Sommer

While a similar movement, generally a hollow back press begins and ends in an L-sit. With a Bower, there is no resting possible in the bottom-most position; thus the movement is intensified.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Hayden Whealing

What does Coach mean by progression NO.3, is it a planche with bent arms?

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Blairbob

Pseudo planche pushup means you lean as far forward as you can like a planche and then do a pushup. Hands should be as close to hips as possible. For variation, no. 3 you could be in a momentary planche as your feet lift off the floor in the pushup.

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Chris

As kbryk pointed out, there's a variation of the bower starting from an elbow lever, wouldn't it be proficient to insert them somewhere between chest rolls to headstand or handstand?

Cheers,

Chris

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Erik Sjolin

I have a few questions about one or two of these progressions (or the ones in the book, sometimes there are a few differences). For the planche pusups with raised feet, is a little hop allowed to lift them off (initially), or should you simply lean further forward? I would suppose using your lats to help would be bad (this is the same issue I have with the back lever and middle split hold).

One last question, for the chest roll to headstand with a press to handstand (in the book), are you allowed to reset your hand position before pressing up? Because they're pretty far back in the chest roll to headstand.

Thanks again for the great exercises.

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Coach Sommer
For the planche pusups with raised feet, is a little hop allowed to lift them off (initially), or should you simply lean further forward?

At first you may, but as your strength improves discontinue the hop.

I would suppose using your lats to help would be bad (this is the same issue I have with the back lever and middle split hold).

If you MUST use your lats initially, then do so. However, once again, this should be discontinued as soon as possible.

One last question, for the chest roll to headstand with a press to handstand (in the book), are you allowed to reset your hand position before pressing up? Because they're pretty far back in the chest roll to headstand.

No, do not reset your hands.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Erik Sjolin

Would it be acceptable to do the lift-offs in the PPP in a straddled position? I was playing around with it during a workout, and managed to do it a lot more consistantly than I did "hopping" off the ground.

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