Performing push-ups correctly, with form, consistency and frequency, can produce a multitude of physical and mental benefits. As I’m about to find out in 4 weeks! But there’s one particular thing they are especially useful for…and that is gauging improvements in upper body strength!
Having the 50 push-ups-a-day task steamrolling towards me led me to question how I could experience the full benefit of this gold-star exercise? My strategy was, *ahem*, to let things slide a little in the lead-up, when it came to upper body and core work. How better to see if push-ups really are worth the hype, right!?
Fifty-a-day of anything is an almighty undertaking. But when we’re talking specifically about a functional exercise like push-ups, it can be as mentally exhausting as it is physically exhausting! Every goal needs a plan to succeed. A solid one is vital when the task at hand is both challenging on multiple levels and highly repetitive. Therefore I recommend incorporating these TWO things into your strategic plan:
Doing so allows you to keep fostering your strength and endurance gains while avoiding boredom!
But what does that look like in practice? Variations in push-ups can mean changes in hand placements, foot placements, tempo and timings. While progressions can mean moving from an easier body position to a more advanced, tougher option. Starting off in positions that are less demanding, such as doing them on your knees rather than your toes, can bolster your confidence in the exercise performed as well as in your own capabilities. It can make you feel like you’ve really accomplished something!
I wanted to pace myself over the 4 weeks and avoid injury, so I dialled down the tempo and made sure I started my journey with one of the easiest and most basic push-up variations possible. Naturally, I then committed to ending the month having conquered one of the toughest!
This is the progressions guide I followed – Trainer Tim’s 30 Day Push Up Challenge!
I started on Level 4 to ensure my form was on point. Progressions in intensity moved fast. I was only 3 days in when I improved from pushing from knees for all reps to 25 reps on the knees and 25 reps on the toes. It was supercharged 1.5 weeks from there to managing all 50 reps from my toes (albeit at a turtle-slow pace).
In week 3 I managed 50 on toes without rest. This got me hyped! During this week, I made sure to up my tempo before moving onto the next level, and bring my arm placement in slightly to really strengthen the shoulder area as much as possible. I pushed on (literally), topping the month off with ALL 50 push-ups done in full position. 25 of them with both feet up the wall! Whoop! I conquered this with 3 days to spare. This Level 6 pushup was achievable because of my 30 years + of conditioning. Everyone will be different!
So, following the massive endorphin rush upon completing this monster task, what are the main takeaways I can share with you? I can confirm – there are MANY! Absolutely I found it an excellent way to gauge strength gains in my upper body, and yes, now I’m feeling STRONG. Feeling a little chuffed in oneself for completing the task is another happy outcome. Refining the skills of perseverance and resilience are worthy mentions when tasks are both difficult to master and are highly repetitive. I also got excited over little wins such as noting much-improved stability in my shoulders, core stabiliser muscles and wrists.
These wins, however, are all felt and not often seen. What I CAN see is a more sculpted upper body and core strength gains and just a little bit of ab shredding! BOOM!
Look at everything that can be gained from one simple exercise that requires very little space and no equipment, and understand that these wins can be your wins too – whatever your capability! Don’t doubt yourself – I KNOW you can do this! xx