Thursday, April 10, 2008

Weekly Challenge: Drop and give me twenty!

Alright, so we are past the mid-week point. I was away from my home base until yesterday, so although I would have posted a new weekly challenge at the beginning of the week, I was unable to do so for logistical reasons. For that reason, this current weekly challenge is going to last from today until the end of next week, at which point I'll introduce a new one.

I'd like to start with an update about last week's challenge: giving up Diet Coke. It has been an incredibly difficult journey, but I have been Diet Coke (and all soda, for that matter) free since the beginning of my weekly challenge post about it on 3/31/08. You know, I wish I could say that I feel like it has had palpable health benefits, like a decrease in sluggishness, or...I don't know, something. But it hasn't really had any effect that I can track myself. Of course, that doesn't mean that it hasn't been healthier. I really, really miss it, but I am determined to stay away from it. And coffee is a pretty satisfying alternative.

And now on to the new challenge. I am constantly hearing about push-ups. Fitsugar encouraged readers to take the push-up challenge and even has a poll this morning about whether or not readers do push-ups; the New York Times recently ran a Wellness blog entry about how push-ups are the best measure of fitness levels; it seems like nothing screams ripped bad-ass quite like one-handed push-ups. Or, for that matter, one-handed push-ups with someone sitting on the back of the person doing the push-up. Oof. In the midst of all this hoopla about the miraculous push-up, I have an embarrassing confession to make. I am good for one, maybe two (on a good day), push-ups at a time. If I drop to my knees I can sometimes get through about ten, but that just doesn't have the same value as the true push-up. For a while I was confused because I can hold a plank like it is my job. I can even go through the entire plank, upward dog, downward dog cycle about a trillion times without ever touching the floor for a brief rest. But I can't do more than two stinking push-ups. What gives? It turns out that the strength I need, and that I don't happen to have, for a push-up is in my chest. I have strong arms, strong shoulders, a strong core, and a strong back, but weak pectoral muscles. So for the rest of this week and the week following this one, I am determined to work on this strength and, hopefully, by the time I am done, I will have broken my two push-up record. All I am looking to do is three to five, really. I don't mind starting slow. I just want to start somewhere.

I am interested in hearing about your experiences with push-ups. Do you do them? Do you enjoy them? How many can you do? Any fancy tricks (one-handed, clapping in between, etc.)?


zebeckras said...

Ohhh, you know, the pectorals thing makes sense. I think I'm able to do them more easily than you because of experience hefting Dorothy around. *g* I didn't think it made a lot of sense, I mean - I've seen your shoulders, and you're definitely not less toned than *I* am! :)P

I'm up to 16 pushups at a time. Which would be sad except I saw so many comments on the FitSugar post about how people could only do 5 or 10, so 16 is pretty good! ...Except that it's sad again because I'm pretty sure I'm genuinely not doing them right. I mean I do try to keep my body straight (and succeed if the mirror is honest), and I don't use my knees, BUT I don't think I lower myself as much as I could. Oh well. Baby steps. ;)

Right now I'm trying to work myself up to being able to do pushups both ways - I can do them but with my elbows sticking out only. I'm trying to work up gently to being able to do them with my elbows at my sides, and that's kind of working b/c the Mina Lessing DVD has a portion of doing it that way. On knees though. Well, start where you can. ^_^

EmLit said...

16 pushups is amazing! I am really, really impressed and I wish I could do that many. And I've seen you do pushups and I don't think your form is wrong at all.

The other day I saw someone doing pushups somewhere (it was while I was running or driving or something--it was outside and he was like along the road or the path I was on, randomly) and he was barely dipping down before pushing back up. Lame! My guess is that you aren't doing the same thing :p

zebeckras said...

I'm probably halfway between Lame Guy and what a person SHOULD do. It's enough to make my arms shake by the end so it must be accomplishing something. Like I said, I think my form is okay, I'm just a little lazy about it. Dan thinks so too. ;)

ainosaras said...

Je peux en faire 12, mais le 12e ne se rend pas tout à fait jusqu'en bas! J'imagine qu'en en faisant quelques uns tous les jours, ça s'améliorerait rapidement. Seulement, j'oublie ce genre de chose et ça n'entre jamais vraiment dans ma routine quotidienne (surtout qu'elle n'est pas... hum... stable).

Sean said...

I love push-ups! They are one of my favorite exercises. I am pretty good at them, but I have been working at them for probably close to two years now, so it really isn't that impressive. I regularly do sets of 60 or so. My form is good, although I may be doing them a bit faster than I should. Lately I have been trying to change things up every day and do variations of the standard push-up. My favorite is a variation where I go sort of slower and drop all the way down till my chest is flat on the ground and my arms are supporting no weight, then all the way back up till my arms are locked and straight. I do 30 at a time and will do anywhere from 3 to 6 sets in a day. Needless to say, my arms and chest begin to feel rather tired at the end of set 6. You can also target different areas by changing the position of your arms (closer to the body, elbows in, positioning your hands lower down and closer to your waist, etc...) I also like to do one where both of my hands are together (index fingers and thumbs making sort of a diamond shape) under the center of my chest, then I go down as far as I can and back up. 20 of those is pushing it for me right now, but I am working on it.

EmLit said...

I made it to three last night! The third one was pretty pathetic, but it was still a full pushup. It's funny--I think if I were better at pushups, I would do them more often. It has always been hard for me to commit to doing them because I am so bad at them that I can't stand the thought of how tiring they are going to be and how weak they are going to make me feel :(

Binx said...

i lift heavy things at work a lot, so i dropped to the ground to pushups thinking i'd kick butt, but i barely made it to 10. so i guess that means i'm at 10. ah well.