Alexei Nemov gave an interview to Russian Men’s Health magazine, demonstrating exercises and offering workout tips. At the “Legends of Sport” show Nemov demonstrated that he’s still in great physical shape and, turns out, he does 350 to 600 push-ups a day to stay in shape.
Here’s the translation of his tips:
When sport is your livelihood, you can’t afford to get injured and you do everything possible in order to avoid even the slightest injury. For that, a good warm-up is needed, so that you’ll warm your muscles and ligaments. I don’t do anything special in that sense: just arm circles, bends, squats, stretches. But all these exercises have to be performed meticulously. Some do them as a mere formality: waved their arms for a bit, warm up done – and now to the barbell. You can’t do that. You also shouldn’t let yourself cool down during the training or competition. For example, if it took a long time for a score to appear at the Olympics or something else delayed my routine, I would always do a handstand.
I start my day with push-ups even though I normally don’t want to do anything in the morning. I feel so lazy… I wake up and think – ok, I’ll go brush my teeth, and so when I’m standing there, brushing my teeth, I wake up completely and realize – have to train. I’m always doing push-ups: before work, on vacation, before stepping into the sea… Usually, in the morning I do 50 repetitions. It’s a great upper body exercise.
Although why exercise, singular? Exercises! There are many kinds of push-ups that develop different muscles and many push-up techniques, so you can build a full workout just out of push-ups. Regular push-ups work your chest muscles. If you place the hands close – so that the thumb and the index finger touch each other, creating a sort of a diamond shape – you’ll work the triceps. If you turn the palms out, you’ll work the forearms. Throughout a day, I do from 350 to 600 push-ups total. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s not too few either.
I do handstands every day since when I was 6-7 years old and just learned how to do them. To people who want to learn it too, I can advice starting with a handstand against the wall with three points of support: imagine a triangle on the floor where one angle is your head and two other angles are your arms. You support yourself in these three points and try to swing your legs up on the wall (you’ll be able to do it eventually).
The next step is to support yourself against the wall only with your arms. When you’ll get confident in that pose, try a freestanding handstand and then you can work on your balance – walk on your hands or straddle and close your legs in a handstand. You can also do push-ups from a handstand but even I don’t try it often because of my old shoulder injury. I do a 30-seconds handstand every morning after push-ups and then finish with balance exercises.
I love this exercise for the fact that you can do it anywhere and without any equipment. You do a regular plank or put your legs on a couch, then do a side plank on each side and you already got a decent workload for your arm, shoulder and core muscles and even worked on your balance a bit. And there’s also elbow plank, elbow plank with one leg raised, and, considering that you can switch legs, here’s another exercise that can be turned into a full workout. No cons here, only pros!
I combine traditional sit-ups with folding like a book. Those are harder but they’re more effective. I was shown this exercise in Germany when I was recovering from an injury there: in 95, I made a mistake on an element catching the bar with one arm instead of both arms and injured my back.
Push-ups on parallel bars
During my gymnastics career, we didn’t do regular push-ups in training but did push-ups on parallel bars. However, the correct technique is very important here – if you go too low, you can get injured. Another great version of these push-ups, especially for those who can do hanging leg-lifts – push-ups on bars with the legs raised 90° degrees.
I do them by the bars so that I can hold with my arm for balance. I squat on one leg first, then on another. I believe that if a person does 3 rounds of 10 squats on each leg and stood in a plank in the morning, it’s a decent workout already. By the way, you can do a circle leg workout in the morning: walk on a foam mat for a minute to warm up your ankles and Achilles tendons, do squats, jump in one place, do three series of long jumps (each series going on for 25 meters) and run with weights – for example, pulling a tire strapped to your belt.
Who dreamed of becoming a star? Here’s the fastest way. You lie on your stomach, spread arms and legs and raise them up together with your upper and lower body. Stay in this position for a few seconds, then – down, then up again. It’s a great exercise for those who care about the health of their spine because it engages many back muscles which are hard to train with any other exercises.
Rings have always been my least favorite apparatus. A lot depends on power elements there – crosses, handstands that you need to hold… The problem was that I’m tall for a gymnast which means I have longer levers and it’s harder for me. I’ve always liked high bar for the feeling of flight (perhaps, because I wanted to become an astronaut as a kid).
I’ll perform on high bar in my show on October 28th. But now I’m just suggesting hanging on the bar and do leg lifts and holds. It’s a hard exercise for an unprepared person, but it’s good and not dangerous. If you can’t yet lift your legs, try spreading them, holding and closing together.
You stand on one leg, raise the other one to the side, holding it with your arm and raise the second arm. This exercise requires good flexibility and a sense of balance. You can make it harder by closing your eyes while doing it. There was a funny story from my childhood when a new coach asked one boy to show him a “gymnastics hello” with eyes closed and the boy just closed his eyes and offered his arm to the coach for a handshake.
Cool-down for a champion
I suggest finishing with stretches. The whole body is warm already so it’ll be easier to stretch. By the way, stretching had been hard for me, but, since you can’t get good scores without flexibility in gymnastics, I had to work hard on it – do bends and stretches. All this helps to get into splits eventually. After stretching you can hang on the bar for a bit and relax your back.