Friday, June 29, 2012

one hundred push-ups program

They gave me a gif!
I have to begin this post by stating that I don't like to exercise. I don't even like the word because every time I type it spell check never gives me the right word as a replacement option. I'm not a fitness nut. I never exercised a day in my life until I joined the military.

Even though I am not a fan of it, I do it because I want to live. Like most, I look for new and exciting things to maintain what little interest I can in fitness. Enter Despite what it sounds like, make no mistake, this is a program anyone can do. Even if you've never done a push-up in your life.

A detailed experience of the hundred push ups training program past the jump...

Initial push-up test: 36
Final push-up test: 62

Being a geek I like this program because it has numbers. There is something physiological about it too. Doing push ups on my own, I might do a couple of sets of 20, get tired, and then go on with my day feeling good about myself. In reality, I've never gotten any better at doing push-ups. In shape or out of it I've always been about to do between 25 and 35 (I'm really scrawny so not much weigh to move). But while following this program I didn't want to fail. I didn't want to put on fitocracy a number less than what was called for. I can't even really say why, but whatever that thing is I can't put my finger on is the reason programs like this work.

Every time I did an initial test, it put me in the highest bracket. Even on week 5 and 6 which are significantly harder than all the previous weeks. The site also said I qualified to start on Week 3, but I chose not to for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason being I wanted to get into the habit of doing push-ups three days a week and I have learned habits are easier to form when they don't cause pain. My second excuse reason is I haven't done any serious exercise in a while.

Some how I managed (and some days just barely) to do every day and every push up for all six weeks. This goes back to the physiology of it. On week 6 day 2 my max was 58, which is the minimum the program says to do. I recall that day I was not into it. I didn't want to push anything much less up, yet I did 58. Halfway through what would have been 59 I hit the ground and just laid there for a few minutes. I know in my heart of hearts had the max been 62, I'd have somehow mustered the strength to do 62. I don't get it, but there it is.

It stands to reason, whatever that is--the physiology thing as I call it--will get you stronger. That, and if you do a bunch of something you should get better at it. I went from doing practically no push-ups to doing fifteen sets of them a week. After 6 weeks there was a notable improvement.

Initial push-up test: 36
Final push-up test: 62

That's a 72% increase!

Looking at fitocracy, there were some days I did 60 - 70 pushups, but to be fair those were not well formed push-ups. They were quick and dirty. The tests are good solid, all the way up and down push-ups to the point of failure.

Everyone Can Do It

I say everyone can do it because the program has progress tests. There is a path for you no matter what. Push-ups are such a flexible exercise that they can be done in many different ways. That's why I say if you can't do one, you can do push-ups on your knees. Go through the whole course like that, then start over with the full blown push-ups.

It really doesn't matter how you do them, or how many you do, or even if you miss a day. What matters is you did something active and make it a habit.

Another thing I like about them, no special equipment. As long as you are on something with gravity you can do push-ups.

Extra Credit

My six weeks is over and I've come up with a few ideas on how to keep going.

My first idea was just start all over, except this time do Marine Corps count push-ups, which is basically the same as doing 2 push-ups for every one.

Towards the end of the program I noticed my push-ups getting sloppy. I could do them pretty quick when I did them sloppy, but it's really not helping me much. Another idea was to start over, maybe at week 3, but focus on quality over numbers. Use a stop watch and do a push-up every second or two seconds; whatever feels right. The point would be to keep them all in the same so that I don't rush though it.

My latest idea was to figure out the pattern and make a Week 7. There is a distinct pattern. Looking at the days across all the weeks it breaks down like this...
  • Set 2 is the highest number to do (excluding the max).
  • Set 3 and 4 are the lowest number and usually the same.
  • Set 1 is between them.
  • The last set is always a max
Granted week 5 and 6 throws things off a bit by having more than 5 sets, but the premise is the same. Moderate push-ups, lots of push-ups, easier push-ups, then a max set.

I came up with two ways to extrapolate a Week 7 and beyond (don't worry there is a spreadsheet).

First the hard way, figure out the percent increase in each set by day. Ignoring the days that have more than 5 sets, I came out with an average of 40.9% more push-ups by set over the previous day. I know it's a little over complicated, but comparing Week 1, Day 1, Set 1 to Week 2, Day 1, Set 1 is a good example. Week 1 it's 10 push-ups, week 2 it's 14 (a 40% increase). Doing that for the whole program the number fluctuates between 0 and 66.6%, but they all average to 40.9%. There was probably some thought behind this. It should also be noted, I'm only looking at the track the requires the most push-ups (third column on the site).

Looking at the spreadsheet below row 29 you can see all this complicated averaging of percentages.

Granted, that's all fun mathgic, but let's get real. Week 6 was tough. A 40.9% increase would put our theoretical Week 7 Day 1 Set 1 right at 67 push-ups...beyond my max. And I still have 4 sets to do. I need a better solution, that's where column's I, J, and K come in.

Let's pretend week 5 and 6 are the end all do all. We're basically just going to do those two weeks over and over again, but each week increase the numbers just a touch... preferably by a percentage we choose. Since I struggled on week 5 and 6, I'd like to do them over without an increase. But in week 9 I might be ready for a 10% increase. Relatively simple, and flexible. Just increase the number in cell I2 and go to town (you will have to make your own copy of the spreadsheet as mine is not editable by viewers).


So that sums up all I know about push-ups. While there were hard parts and days I really didn't want to do it, I can say I feel stronger and have a little bit more tone in my arms after sticking with the one hundred push-ups program. I look forward to the next six weeks of push-ups (sort of), but I'm taking a week off before I start :)

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