13 July 2008

Push-Ups Made Easy

For the longest time, I've been wanting to do a lot of push-ups and be able to say, "Yup! I can do [insert big number here] push-ups!" But that devious little exercise always has me beat. Now, I think I may have a plan to beat it.

This does seem like the typical post you would find on health and fitness sites but this blog is gonna have it all (but mostly computer-related). But this summer, I had three goals in mind. One of them you already know (Java certification). The other one I had in mind was be able to do 50 push-ups (without breaks). I really didn't know how I was going to achieve this but I really didn't care. I had my mind set even though my current best was a weak 28-ish push-ups.

What Muscles Are Involved?
In fact, most people can only do around that amount. I would say you're doing fine if you can even do 20. So what the hell makes these damn things so hard? First of all, it works several muscles that people usually don't concentrate on(this is just my experience). As far as most people know, it works your upper body. Great! Off to a good start. It works your chest (pectoralis major). Alright. For those that go to the gym (or plan to), some bench presses can help that.

What about your arms? I mean half the motion comes from your arms! Some (maybe a lot) of people think it works your biceps. Having big biceps gives you a big arm right? So big biceps = more push-ups? No! In fact, your triceps have much more mass/volume in your arm than your biceps. So it's actually bigger triceps that can get you counting to 25 and more.

The most interesting thing I found out though was that doing push-ups also works your core (abs in general). Keeping your body straight and keeping balance while doing press-ups (as that call it in the UK) is all thanks to your core muscles. There's some other muscles that push-ups work but if you really want to know more about that, wiki it!

Alright, so how do I do more? Well, when I went to India this summer, I had a whole lot of time to do basically nothing. So what I did was...push-up! Ok, maybe not the whole time, but whenever I was feeling less lethargic than usual. My plan was basically do about 80% of my maximum number. Then shake off the tired feeling in your arms. Then do about 40% of my max. Then do as many as I can before I collapse.

Don't leave just yet. Thanks to my college roommate, I had found out you can do different kinds of push-ups to keep you going. So the everyday, average push-up is keeping your arms about shoulder-width apart. What my roommate calls wide push-ups are about 1.5 times your shoulder-width. Narrow push-up are basically those with your hands about typing-on-a-keyboard-distance apart (around 4 inches apart).

So I did 12 normal and 12 wide without any break. Then took a short 90 second break (you don't really have to be precise on the 90 seconds...I certainly wasn't). Just long enough until you can use your arms again. Then I did 12 narrow. Took a break. Then during my last part, did as many normal/wide push-ups as I could.

Make sure you really give your all out effort on the last part. Do it until you really can't push yourself up anymore. Like you'll fall to the floor (hopefully without smashing your face) and actually roll over onto your back so you can get up.

Thanks to all of that for several weeks, I can finally do 40 push-ups! Not at my goal yet but really close!

Striving for Hundred Push-Ups
It actually wasn't until I got back and did some surfing online did I find an amazing website that sets up a plan for being able to do 100 push-ups. 100?! Crazy! It's really informative and has you testing yourself on a weekly basis. The plan is structured so you're doing more push-ups every week yet still only working 3 days a week. Coincidentally enough, the site is called hundredpushups.com. I'll be starting out on about week 3 of this 6-week plan and hopefully I'll be able to reach my goal before my classes start!

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