Thanks to Kat, I found out about the Hundred Push-ups Challenge. On Friday, I finished my second week.
The program starts out by having you test how many push-ups you can do. To be honest, I'm ashamed of how few I am able to do. For the past 4-5 years, I've had ongoing troubling bouts of biceps tendinitis and related shoulder pain, and for about half of that time, I've been forbidden by a physical therapist to do push-ups because of the strain it was putting on my shoulder.
So, alas, all I could crank out was 18 push-ups. To my defense, I have to say that they were in good form. And what is a good push-up? Here is the description from the challenge website:
Instructions for "good-form" push upsLie prone on the ground with hands placed as wide or slightly wider than shoulder width. Keeping the body straight, lower body to the ground by bending arms at the elbows. Raise body up off the ground by extending the arms. Repeat.
Body weight should be lifted by the arms; don't be tempted to use your butt, stomach or the lower half of your body to pull yourself up. To maintain correct body alignment, imagine a straight line running from your head down to your ankles.
And, from an Army basic training website:
Tips: Kneel down on the floor and place your hands flat on the floor and slightly wider than shoulder width apart. With your shoulders directly over your hands, straighten your arms. Move your feet back, placing your toes on the floor, so that your knees are off the floor and your legs are straight. At this point, your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Your body should remain straight throughout this exercise. Keep your head and neck in line with your body so that your are looking down toward the floor. This is the starting position. In a controlled fashion, lower your body down toward the floor, bending your elbows, until your body is nearly touching the floor. Now, push your body up away from the floor, straightening your arms, until you have returned to the starting position. If you need to reduce the intensity of this exercise you can perform the pushup from your knees.
In our martial arts classes, we require that students not only keep their bodies straight, but that their heads be either in line with or above their shoulders. Arms need to be bent at least 90 degrees, with the chest coming close to the floor.
I can --- and do --- demonstrate good push-up form in class, but I can't keep it up for very long. So I jumped at the idea of the push-up challenge. I've tried various push-up regimens in the past, but this one seemed quite doable, and didn't involve lots of time or push-ups scattered throughout the day.
By the end of the first week, I was somewhat sore. By last week, the push-ups I was doing seemed easier, even though I've been working out on the heavy bag a lot more and expected my upper body muscles to be more easily fatigued.
I would encourage everyone to take on the challenge. If you haven't done "real push-ups" in years, the website suggests modifications to make them easier. There's no reason not to get started!