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Power-up Your Workouts with Push-ups

 

Many would-be muscle builders put the cart before the horse when it comes to building muscle by doing things like struggling like novices under the bench bar before they’ve ever even attempted a proper push-up. If you’re anything like me you still view push-ups as the sit-ups very evil twin.  I know, I know. For many, myself included, the mere mention of the word ‘push-up’ conjures up dusty memories of sadistic elementary school gym teachers yelling “Drop and give me 20!”. These memories are especially vivid and painful for someone who was gifted with less than stellar upper body strength and was destined to become an accountant.  *Coughs!* I’ll never forget the first day of gym class in 3rd grade when I spent half the class looking for the knots that had fallen off the rope from the year before, and the other half dreading my turn at attempting this hopeless endeavor. Painful memories aside, I  urge you to redefine yourself physically and consider taking the ass kicking to a new level by exercising your God given right to push-ups.

Why should you add push-ups to your routine?

  • Adds Variety – Incorporating push-ups in your fitness routine is a convenient way to consistently add variety to your workouts. Try adding sets of push-ups between each set of bench presses. Doing so can help take your workouts to a new level, which is where building lean muscle begins. It’s also a fabulous way to start boosting your muscular endurance. The number of possible push-up variations is limited only by your imagination, and your willingness to continually challenge yourself in new and exciting ways. Feel free to share your favorite variation in the comments section below!

 

  • Cost Effective – Low cost = no excuses! Well, at least one lest excuse anyway. Two of the most powerful currencies in life are money and time. Adding push-ups to your daily routine today will cost you absolutely nothing of the former, and very little of the latter.  Adding push-ups to your daily life will make you stronger, without requiring you to go out and have any special training or equipment. A major reason why many industry folks devalue the effectiveness of push-ups is simply because they require no equipment, and therefore there’s not really anything they can sell you to make their cha ching. Push-ups are the foundation that all other chest development exercises and routines are based on. I’m fairly confident that learning to walk first makes running a whole hell of a lot easier.

 

  • Convenient – Push-ups are an extremely convenient exercise. You can do push-ups anywhere from a gym, your office, or even the bathroom (cause being busted doing push-ups in your office would be SO embarrassing). Handicapped stalls are nice and roomy for just such an occasion.

 

  • Fights Moobs – The convenience of being able to crank out push-ups anywhere means that they’re great for keeping your chest muscles tight (avoiding the dreaded moobs), even when you’re unable to get into a gym because of traveling, etc. The chest muscles are typically the first muscle to start going soft due to inactivity, primarily because the pressing movement of the bench-press/pushup is not one the we do regularly in our day-to-day activity. When’s the last time you pushed something away from you outside of a gym setting?

DARE: I dare you to get on the floor wherever you are right now and crank out as many push-ups as you can! Were you positively or negatively surprised at the number of push-ups you could do? How many could you crank out? Brag your hearts out in the comments section below!

Muscles that push-ups leave twitching, burning, and eventually begging for more include the pectorals, triceps, the deltoids, as well as the core muscles of your abs and torso.

Get Army Strong

The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is a three tiered test that the army uses to test muscular strength and endurance via three tests consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run. Below is the chart of the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) for push-ups. The top line value for reps across all age groups regardless of sex is 77 reps, and therein lays the inspiration for the challenge.

Are you army strong? Find out at: http://apftcalculator.com

 

Last week I set myself the goal of being able to do 100 consecutive push-ups with proper form in only 4 weeks, and already I’m seeing some major improvements. I urge you to join me if you feel you’re up to the challenge by either using my method as described in the simple steps below, or by sharing and using your own method.

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My KISS (keep it simple stupid) Method:

  1. Do as many consecutive push-ups as you can do with good form. This provides you with your baseline number.
  2. Now comes the hard FUN part. Commit to performing 100 push-ups every other day in the least number of sets possible. The reason I’m performing the 100 push-ups every other day is to let my muscles have a chance to recover. If you feel like you need more rest the only a day, then by all means listen to your body. Injury derails a fitness journey like nothing else. Safety first!

 

My rather pathetic first day (July 4, 2011) looked as follows:

  • Set 1: 30
  • Set 2: 32
  • Set 3: 27
  • Set 4: 11

My 4th day results – a week into the challenge:

  • Set 1: 35
  • Set 2: 38
  • Set 3: 27

Mindless factoid: The world record for the most nonstop push-ups is held by Minoru Yoshida of Japan, who did an amazing 10,507 in October of 1980!!!

If you’re an app addict like me, there’s even an app for mastering pushups that can be found at: http://hundredpushups.com.

I also encourage you to check out a recent video by Brett Campbell of rapidfatloss.com in which he demonstrates 3 push-up variations that will help you keep your routines fresh, and your muscles burning.

Honestly I’m pretty blown away by how these gains have translated into the weight room. In the relatively short span of a week I’ve seen my working bench weight go up 20 pounds!

Stay tuned for updates, and be sure to check out our facebook page where the buildingleanmusclemass.net muscle mob gathers daily.

Rock it!

-Matt

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15 Comments

  1. I LOVE push-ups. Along with pull-ups, squats and lunges. Those are my 4 main exercises. Its easy, simple and free. I’ve been adding slight variations as in a closer grip which is a lot more tough. I’ll be experimenting more as time goes on!

    1. It’s tough to beat free! Varying workout routines is truly a key to continuous improvement. Getting complacent about your routines is what leaves you head-scratching on a long plateau. Experiment, expand your context, and grow your world! Great advice.

      -Matt

  2. Naturally, I’m a huge fan of the push ups for reasons you mentioned: they’re free, you can do them at home or where ever you happen to be, and they are highly customizable to your fitness level. And who doesn’t LOVE push ups! I think the real issue is with guys – that’s right. hey all want to get on the bench, throw on the big plates, and grunt out the reps. That’s also a great way to get chicks! 🙂

    1. Oh oh! Susan’s beating down guys again. 🙂 You’re usually right, but it still stings a little (truth hurts)!

      In this case I’m going to have to say that I agree with you 100%. I have to say that there’s something beautiful about being balanced in fitness, and the troglodytes always grunting over by the flat benches are NOT there.

      I’ve actually read that pull-ups are a much more appropriate indicator of your overall fitness level than benching.

      Take care,

      -Matt

  3. Push ups are great, but they are not the secret to getting a heeeeyoooge chest. The 100 push up challenge that you are attempting right now, is great. Why? Because anything you do outside of the norm will stimulate new growth. I feel bad for the folks who think they can just do 1000 push ups a day and continue to make progress. There are limits to strength and growth doing regular push ups. Now, it’s a different story when you start to vary the push up technique – plyo push ups, incline, decline, feet elevated, close grip, super wide, depth push ups, neural activation push ups, etc etc… That’s my $.02

    1. Thanks for your $.02 Steve, it’s always welcome!

      I’ve got more push-up variations than I know what to do with, and some that I can’t even do yet (someday I’ll get there). 🙂

      I think that what the challenge has shown me so far is that I’ve been so focused on building strength, that I’ve sort of neglected muscular endurance in the process.

      I agree with what you said about the people stuck in ruts. If you only want what you have today, do what you did yesterday.

      Cheers!

      -Matt

  4. Most of my life I’ve hated pushups. A few years ago, I figured it out — they’re hard!! I’ve been using the hundred pushups program off and on for over a year now. Good stuff!

  5. What can you say, push-ups are, IMHO, the ultimate bodyweight exercise. So many variations to choose from, all attacking the upper body in different ways.

  6. Deep Pushups for the win! Make regular pushups harder, more effective by going way down past your hands. Your feet have to be raised as well, at least even with your hands. If you raise your feet higher, you’ll be hitting your upper pecs just like inclined BP. My link goes straight to a page/video on this btw.

    1. Definitely a win! Deep push-ups are a fabulous way to kick it up a notch! Thanks for sharing.

      -Matt

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