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« Creativity | Main | Future Reality »
Sunday
Jun122011

100 Push-Up Challenge

When I produced the latest version of SuperFocus, I used “Read War and Peace” as an example of how the method could keep one going during a project which required consistent effort over a period.

I thought I’d better do something similar for “Dreams” so I’ve decided on something a lot harder. I’ve decided to go for the 100 Push-Ups Challenge. You will see from the previous post that I have put it in my Future Reality.

At the age of 67 I don’t expect to go from my current ability to do six push-ups to being able to do one hundred in only six weeks. I will almost certainly take a lot longer and may never get there. But the important thing is to keep going and give it the best try I can.

I’ll give regular reports so you can see how effective Dreams is in keeping the vision going!

Reader Comments (76)

I thought you needed to choose some compelling vision to succeed. Do you find 100 pushups compelling?
June 12, 2011 at 14:01 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Two things;

1. I did the challenge a few years ago. Unfortunately I had a nagging rotator cuff injury, that morphed into full blown frozen shoulder (partly due to this challenge). To be clear, the injury was due to an ice hockey injury and not the challenge itself.

2. I would love to hear how you differentiation between push and pull energy, and what you do about it.
June 12, 2011 at 15:45 | Registered Commenteravrum
Alan:

The compelling part of the vision is not in the 100 push-ups itself, but in the part of my Future Reality which deals with being extremely fit and full of energy
June 12, 2011 at 19:02 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
avrum:

Fortunately I don't have any shoulder injuries, but I will be being careful not to overdo it. My maxim with exercise has always been "If exercise makes the pain lessen, then carry on exercising. If exercise makes the pain worse, then stop."

Did you actually finish the challenge?
June 12, 2011 at 19:04 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<<Did you actually finish the challenge? >>

Officially, no. By that I mean, I never did 100 pushups in a row. Overtime, I was able to do 100 pushups throughout the day.
June 12, 2011 at 19:45 | Registered Commenteravrum
Mark:

<<The compelling part of the vision is not in the 100 push-ups itself, but in the part of my Future Reality which deals with being extremely fit and full of energy>>

If you currently are able to do only 6 push-ups in a row I guess your actual physical condition might not be your best. Starting by push-ups is not a good choice. You exercise mainly your pectorals and triceps (and transversal abdominal too, which is good), and put a lot of stress on your heart. If your aim is to be "extremely fit and full of energy" you better start by aerobic exercise (walking briskly and gradually moving to jogging -alternate 4 minutes walking with 1 minute running at the beginning, then increase to 3 minutes walking and 2 running and so on untill you run for 20 minutes in a row- or swimming if the impact is a problem, are good possibilities. Always exercise at least for 20 minutes). Once you get to an acceptable aerobic condition, which means that your heart is strong enough and your circulatory system is working properly (roughly, being able to run 2 kilometers in 12 minutes which in more specialized terminology correlates to VO2 max of 33.7 would be good enough) you can move to strength and flexibility, the two other major components of physical fitness.

Or take yoga or some other type of fitness class with a good instructor.

As I said in other thread, "little and often" is not enough. You also need to understand what you are doing... sorry for being very honest.
June 13, 2011 at 18:40 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
...Unless I am guessing wrong and you are already in good aerobic shape.
June 13, 2011 at 19:58 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo
Unless I am guessing wrong and your are already in good aerobic condition.
June 13, 2011 at 20:00 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Thanks, Marcelo. My aerobic fitness is not too bad since my main hobby is long-distance walking.
June 13, 2011 at 20:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Oh! In that case I'll keep tuned to follow your progress!
June 13, 2011 at 21:30 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
"Set 1: 6 of 6 Set 2: 6 of 6 Set 3: 4 of 4 Set 4: 4 of 4 Set 5: 5 of 5 (min 5)"
What are these of's? Do you have a program that says do 6,6,4,4,5?
June 13, 2011 at 21:36 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Hi Mark,

Are you keeping up with your walks?

How many walks per week are you doing on average?
June 13, 2011 at 23:03 | Registered Commentersmileypete
Alan:

Follow the "100 Push-Ups Challenge" link in the article and then click on Week 1 in the left margin.
June 13, 2011 at 23:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
smileypete:

Seven currently.
June 13, 2011 at 23:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Well done!

I'd be a bit careful about doing/overdoing the push ups though, sticking to 7 walks a week should be better.
June 14, 2011 at 0:06 | Registered Commentersmileypete
That is a coincidence. I started the 100 pushups challenge in March. Just for good measure I also started the 200 squats, 50 pullups, and 200 situps challenges as well. I am generally very active and do cross-country ski races in the winter. I also play volleyball, bike, and roller-ski in the summer so I was just looking for something to mix things up.

I started at 17 pushups. My last test, about a month ago, was 25. My dedication has been erratic after the first 3 weeks or so. The situps were hurting my back. The squats took a long time and are very demanding. I have been stuck on the pushups at 12,17,13,10 of 13, and 5 of 17. I haven't given up but the difficulty of getting to 100 pushups is very clear. The suggested progression seems impossible, though I am 56 so maybe someone in their 20s can get better results.

I have found that once or twice a week gets me minimal or no progress, but sometimes that is all I do. I am definitely stronger than when I started however, and a nagging shoulder injury from volleyball seems greatly improved. I have made progress in pullups and can do 7 which is much better than the 2 I could do at the start. I have gone back to occasional weight room squats and situps and I am no longer trying to follow the program for those.

Good luck and I will be interested to see how it goes for you.
June 14, 2011 at 23:14 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Worrel
Greg:

I don't think I'd have tried all four programs at the same time - even the one is enough of a challenge for me!

Once a week is never enough to make progress. If you do a training session, the improvement is at its max after 2 or 3 days and then starts to decline. After 7 days it is back to where you started from.

I failed miserably today to do the targets for Week 1 Day 2. Oh, the shame of it! But even so I was able to do 8 press-ups instead of 6, and that was after previously doing a set of six. So the improvement has actually been huge.
June 15, 2011 at 10:13 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Greg:
Pushups, squats, pullups, situps: very good combination, all the major muscle groups. I would work out every day, each day on a different and only one group. Mark is right that for strength 2 or 3 days is the best interval, but even if you work on each group every fourth day it will give you good results and should smooth things out - plus you'll feel energized every day.

Mark:
From 6 to 8 in day 2, after a set of 6: that's very impressive!
June 15, 2011 at 16:07 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo:

<< Pushups, squats, pullups, situps: very good combination, all the major muscle groups. I would work out every day, each day on a different and only one group. >>

That makes sense, though I would worry about what would happen if I had to miss a few days for any reason. The four day gap would very quickly become six or seven.

<< From 6 to 8 in day 2, after a set of 6: that's very impressive! >>

I thought so too! I'll repeat the Day on Friday and then repeat the Week from Day 1 starting next Monday. The progression seems to be pretty fearsome in the program, but I think the key is to keep going and not worry about taking a lot longer than the six weeks.
June 15, 2011 at 18:04 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark,

You managed to get me in. I did my initial tests today:

Pushups: 25
Situps: 60
Squats: I stopped at 50 because at the site they classify 50 as excellent in the initial test. I know my legs are strong because of cycling so I don't really need squats.
Pullups: I can't figure out where to hang a bar.

So I'll start with pushups and situps on alternate days.

Starting tomorrow :)
June 16, 2011 at 16:24 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo:

I expect you'll get to 100 before I get to 25!
June 16, 2011 at 17:20 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<<I'm expect you'll get to 100 before I get to 25! >>

Don't worry, I'll wait for you :) Really, who cares: 6 weeks or 12 or 24, whatever, as long as we keep fit... that's the point.

So, my first day (pushups):
S1: 12 of 12
S2: 17 of 17
S3: 13 of 13
S4: 13 of 13
S5: 17 of "at least 17"

Not easy...
June 17, 2011 at 12:12 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo:

Well done. That's a lot of pushups!

I'm just about to start on Day 3.
June 17, 2011 at 12:17 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Failed again miserably, but in fact I'm quite encouraged because I definitely had at least one more pushup in me at the end of the first set of 8.

I also found it less exhausting than before and I've recovered much quicker.

You'll see in the up-date that I had an e-mail exchange with Steve Speirs the author of the program, who replied very quickly and helpfully twice.
June 17, 2011 at 12:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Go for that Day 3! Once you'll break the set of 10, you'll be in a completely different position: you'll be a Two Digits Pushuper!
June 17, 2011 at 15:34 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo:

I also asked Steve how to maintain it once one has got to the 100 and his reply was:

"I hope to add some sort of maintenance plan to the web site at some stage in the near future. I typically go back to Week 3 or 4 and repeat the last few weeks of the program to help maintain strength/fitness. You can always repeat the whole program performing a more advanced push-up exercise (wide arm, narrow arm, medicine ball etc etc). My book details about a dozen "advanced" push-up exercises if you're interested."

I think you are likely to need that advice long before I do!
June 17, 2011 at 23:32 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<<I think you are likely to need that advice long before I do! >>

One step at a time. I don't see it easy. Though I noticed that while I am doing the exercises they seem much harder than after I've done them :)

Yesterday was my resting day, today was my first day with situps:

Set 1: 21 of 21
Set 2: 27 of 27
Set 3: 21 0f 21
Set 4: 21 of 21
Set 5: 30 of 30+

It wasn't peanuts. And I am afraid second days are way harder...

Mark, are you resting today or is it your fourth pushups day?
June 19, 2011 at 14:21 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo:

I'm trying to stick to Day 1Monday, Day2 Wednesday and Day 3 Friday with two days off at the weekend.
June 19, 2011 at 16:27 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<<And I am afraid second days are way harder...>>

For me, once the novelty of an exercise program weans (particularly programs that require increased reps, leading to more of the same ol', same ol') , the actual exercises become physically harder to perform. Both a psychological and physical issue for me.
June 19, 2011 at 18:18 | Registered Commenteravrum
Mark: I see.

Avrum: I meant that the number of repetitions increases in a step incline from day to day.
June 19, 2011 at 19:45 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
"Little & often" exercise!

Looking at these progressions, we can see Mark's "little and often" principle extended to fitness.

Though few of us can do 100 pushups all in one shot, we can get there in sets of 3, 5, 12, or what have you, by taking little breaks.

In sports science, this is called "volume training," or the principle that your total volume of weight lifted per unit time is the most important variable affecting your progress, more important than the breakdown of sets and reps (though of course sets and reps have their own secondary role).

In the same vein, when it comes to Getting Everything Done, what matters is our total volume of work completed, and it's no good burning ourselves out with marathon sessions.

Take breaks to get more done!
June 19, 2011 at 23:25 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
avrum,

You are not alone. Our bodies adapt to the stimulus and stop getting stronger, for neurological and other apparently complex reasons. This phenomenon is part of what has motivated "volume training" research.

New trainees often benefit from the same ol' same ol' for up to three months, but more experienced athletes can max out in as little as three weeks (the theory is that they were already near max capacity). The only remedy is constant change.

Happily, you do not have to change much, and it can be fun to experiment. With push-ups, you can try changing the placement of your hands, the tempo of your movement (e.g., two seconds up and then six seconds down), do partial reps (such as staying near the bottom position the entire time), etc. The other approach is to take up a complementary exercise for a while, such as pullups, and keep alternating when either one stagnates.

Needless to say, there are various schools of thought on the optimal method, and they can get quite dogmatic about it. For us weekend warriors, the bottom line is: when you get stuck, change something until you are unstuck.
June 19, 2011 at 23:38 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
Pushups Day 2

Set 1: 14 of 14
Set 2: 19 of 19
Set 3: 14 of 14
Set 4: 14 of 14
Set 5: 19 of 19+

Generous pauses between sets.
June 20, 2011 at 11:35 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Mark,

I have a friend that did this routine. After seeing you start it as well, I decided I had better join in. (Gotta do something about these fat Americans. lol)

Initial test: 20
Day 1: Maxed at 10

I'm not going to do multiple routines at the same time. Let me finish the push-ups. Then I'll tackle the sit-ups or pull-ups. :)
June 20, 2011 at 14:59 | Registered CommenterjFenter
I'm with Avrum. I get terminally bored by repetition. I tried doing planks some time ago, and physically I could do 45 secs easy, but mentally I would drop out as I didn't want to continue. Maybe if I had a book to read while planking...
June 20, 2011 at 17:08 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Situps 2nd Day

Set 1: 30 of 30
Set 2: 38 0f 38
Set 3: 23 of 23
Set 4: 23 of 23
Set 5: 38 of 38(min)

1 minute breaks between sets (this time a I timed them)
-------------------------------------------------------------
Bernie:

I don't know about volume training, but I know physiologically there are two different mechanisms by which a muscle can obtain energy to work: anaerobic and aerobic.

In the anaerobic mechanism the muscle consumes the glucose it has at its disposition, creating thereby lactic acid which accumulates in the tissues - that is the sensation you feel as tiredness in a muscle.

In the aerobic, after the muscle has consumed its own reserve of glucose, it receives glucose from the blood and the lactic acid is transported to the liver where more glucose is created out of it and the circle goes on (simplified explanation).

When you train a muscle you can target one or the other mechanism. If for example you lift a weight of 100 kilograms x 3 reps (=300 kilograms) along 15 minutes (1 every five minutes) you will probably be targeting the anaerobic mechanism. The muscle will react by increasing its mass in order to be able to respond to that stimulus. If, on the contrary, you lift 300 kilograms in 30 reps of 10 kilograms each along 15 minutes, you will probably be targetting the aerobic mechanism. The muscle won't grow nearly as much and rather than strength it will develope endurance.

That's why a marathon runner and a sprinter look so different, although they might be running the same distances in their training sessions. They run differently.

Of course there are other variations besides those, you may work on explossive strength or the best combination of aerobic and anaerobic for your distance if you are a runner.

But no, I don't think equal volume of weight lifted per unit time will give you the same results irrelevantly of the way in which you train. And one hundred pushups in one set or divided up in 5 sets are not the same. If you are able to perform 100 pushups in one set your muscles endurance is much better than if you can perform them only in several sets.
June 21, 2011 at 17:33 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
The numbers in the example I gave are very irrealistic. Just to correct that: 3 reps x 100 kgs in 3 minutes (one each minute) against 100 reps x 3kgs in 3 minutes.
June 21, 2011 at 21:45 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo,

As you say, we do not get identical results based purely on overall volume. The "secondary role" of sets & reps I referred to has to do with whether you are attempting to build muscle mass, maximal strength (1RM), or endurance (such as a boxer's ability to keep on punching round after round), and other finer tunings, such as adapting to your individual muscle fiber composition, as different people have differing amounts of TypeI/IIa/IIb fibers in various muscles. The point about volume is how *much* progress you can make in your chosen direction. I.e., if you are sad that you've only made 50 pushups today, you can generally make something like double your progress by doing another 50 after adequate rest—assuming of course that "adequate" fits into the remainder of today.

These (and other) variables account for why some people have little success with popular routines that work for countless others: if those routines prescribe a fixed progression of reps and sets, they may be designed for the fiber composition of the average individual, whereas if your fiber makeup is very different, then you would might need to, say, double the reps to get results.

A leading strength coach in the development and applications of such things is Charles Poliquin at http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ , who has great success applying them to Olympic athletes, professional hockey teams, and individuals who have a lot more money than me.

A few relevant articles:

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/432/Rising_to_Pull-Up_Success.aspx

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/289/Intensity_Brackets_for_Optimal_Training.aspx

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/261/A_Look_Back_and_Ahead_at_German_Volume_Training.aspx

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/221/Question_How_long_I_should_use_a_specific_workout_.aspx

As I was saying, there are other successful coaches who use other principles, and I'd like to stop short of arguing which school is correct. I just wanted to share these methods, because I've found them to be more reliable than most, giving more predictable results and more useful strategies for getting past sticking points—you know, when you are on month 5 of a routine, and it doesn't seem to work any more.

I'm also a sucker for anything that works while bucking the conventional wisdom. ;->

But if something else works for you, then I'll echo Mark Forster's advice (this was about SuperFocus variations, but I'm transplanting it here, and paraphrasing): if it is giving you the results you want, then don't feel obliged to change it.
June 21, 2011 at 22:33 | Registered CommenterBernie
Pushups Day 3 (to be repeated)

Set 1: 16 of 16
Set 2: 21 of 21
Set 3: 14 of 15
Set 3 (repeated) 15 of 15
Set 4: 15 of 15
Set 5: 10 of 19 (min)

I did not manage to complete set 3 with one minute breaks between sets. I tried with a 90 seconds break and it worked, but I wasn't able to complete the last set. I'll repeat day 3 with 90 seconds breaks between sets next time. Also, I slept only a few hours last night and felt tired all day, that might have influenced my performance.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Bernie:

I misunderstood you then. Yes, it is true that people differ in the type of dominant fiber in their muscles, some are more prone to aerobic activity and some to anaerobic activity. I’ve also heard a learned opinion, although not scientifically proved as far as I know, that with age the proportion between “red” (anaerobic) and “white” (aerobic) fiber in the muscles tends to change in favor of white (aerobic) fibers. Regardless of that, with age the metabolism becomes less efficient and it is not expectable the same reaction to a given stimulus will occur in a 20 y/o and a 50+ y/o (this applies to me as I am 52 y/o now, of course it applies also to Mark Forster at 67 y/o).

Generally, I must say I am surprised by Mark’s choice to work on push ups as a way to accomplish his view of “being extremely fit and full of energy”. The concept of “fitness” has to be understood. There is not really a “general fitness”, although it is a commonplace in daily parlance. Fitness is always specific: you are fit to do this or that. If you are fit to win a marathon, odds are you will not be fit to win a weight lifting competition, and vice versa.

So, when considering the meaning of “being extremely fit” one should consider what are one’s personal needs and wants, in other words, what do you need or want your body to be extremely fit for.

As a rule of thumb, I think a sensible approach is to target the physical activities you perform on a daily basis, those that are conductive to accomplish your most important goals so that you can perform them with ease, as well as preventive measures to avoid common health problems.

If you plan to be a rugby player or go pushing people around then push ups seem to me very much to the point. However, if these are not frequent activities in your life, I wouldn’t start by push ups.

If you plan on a rather sedentary type of activity, say, being an elite personal coach and making a million a year with four clients, or writing, etc, I would rather start by gaining an excellent cardiovascular condition as a base and to prevent any heart problems, then strengthen the muscles that support your spine so that you can seat for many hours without having back problems, then strengthening the muscles that support your internal organs, mainly in the abdominal cavity and pelvis, as these two regions are not supported by bones and “falling organs” can cause serious trouble, then I would take care of maintaining good flexibility of muscles and tendons as they tend to become rigid and fragile with age and a broken tendon in your leg can completely paralyze you. As for the extremities, I would start by strengthening the legs that have the very important role of getting you around. Your arms should be strong enough so that you can easily hold yourself in a traveling bus or perform any of the daily tasks you need to perform with ease. These are just first thoughts that come to mind, but I hope the approach is clear.

If you already are “extremely fit and full of energy” for your specific needs then just for fun you might work on whatever you like.

May be Mark Forster already is “extremely fit and full of energy” for his specific needs so he rightly wants to amuse himself with push ups, but I think most of the rest of us aren’t.

I will complete the 100 push ups challenge as well as the 200 sit ups challenge (these I value more than the push ups because they contribute to support your spine and your internal organs, although also obliques and transversal abdominal should be worked on) just to train myself on completing commitments and to keep company to Mark in his project, but I must confess that I look at it with some amusement from the point of view of one who is not “extremely fit and full of energy” yet.
June 22, 2011 at 19:01 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo
Pushups Day 3 (to be repeated)
Set 1: 16 of 16
Set 2: 21 of 21
Set 3: 14 of 15
Set 3 (repeated) 15 of 15
Set 4: 15 of 15
Set 5: 10 of 19 (min)

I did not manage to complete set 3 with one minute breaks between sets. I tried with a 90 seconds break and it worked, but I wasn't able to complete the last set. I'll repeat day 3 with 90 seconds breaks between sets next time. Also, I slept only a few hours last night and felt tired all day, that might have influenced my performance today.

Bernie:
I misunderstood you then. Yes, it is true that people differ in the type of dominant fiber in their muscles, some are more prone to aerobic activity and some to anaerobic activity. I’ve also heard a learned opinion, although not scientifically proved as far as I know, that with age the proportion between “red” (anaerobic) and “white” (aerobic) fiber in the muscles tends to change in favor of white (aerobic) fibers. Regardless of that, with age the metabolism becomes less efficient and it is not expectable the same reaction to a given stimulus will occur in a 20 y/o and a 50+ y/o (this applies to me as I am 52 y/o now, of course it applies also to Mark Forster at 67 y/o).

Generally, I must say I am surprised by Mark’s choice to work on push ups as a way to accomplish his view of “being extremely fit and full of energy”. The concept of “fitness” has to be understood. There is not really a “general fitness”, although it is a commonplace in daily parlance. Fitness is always specific: you are fit to do this or that. If you are fit to win a marathon, odds are you will not be fit to win a weight lifting competition, and vice versa.

So, when considering the meaning of “being extremely fit” one should consider what are one’s personal needs and wants, in other words, what do you need or want your body to be extremely fit for.

As a rule of thumb, I think a sensible approach is to target the physical activities you perform on a daily basis, those that are conductive to accomplish your most important goals so that you can perform them with ease, as well as preventive measures to avoid common health problems.

If you plan to be a rugby player or go pushing people around then push ups seem to me very much to the point. However, if these are not frequent activities in your life, I wouldn’t start by push ups.

If you plan on a rather sedentary type of activity, say, being an elite personal coach and making a million a year with four clients, or writing, etc, I would rather start by gaining an excellent cardiovascular condition as a base and to prevent any heart problems, then strengthen the muscles that support your spine so that you can seat for many hours without having back problems, then strengthening the muscles that support your internal organs, mainly in the abdominal cavity and pelvis, as these two regions are not supported by bones and “falling organs” can cause serious trouble, then I would take care of maintaining good flexibility of muscles and tendons as they tend to become rigid and fragile with age and a broken tendon in your leg can completely paralyze you. As for the extremities, I would start by strengthening the legs that have the very important role of getting you around. Your arms should be strong enough so that you can easily hold yourself in a traveling bus or perform any of the daily tasks you need to perform with ease. These are just first thoughts that come to mind, but I hope the approach is clear.

If you already are “extremely fit and full of energy” for your specific needs then just for fun you might work on whatever you like.

May be Mark Forster already is “extremely fit and full of energy” for his specific needs so he rightly wants to amuse himself with push ups, but I think most of the rest of us aren’t.

I will complete the 100 push ups challenge as well as the 200 sit ups challenge (these I value more than the push ups because they contribute to support your spine and your internal organs) just to train myself on completing commitments and to keep company to Mark in his project, but I must confess that I look at it with some reluctance from the point of view of one who is not “extremely fit and full of energy” yet.
June 22, 2011 at 19:02 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
I re-read the instructions for push ups Day 3 (starting on 3rd week) and I should have rested two minutes or more between sets. I rested 90 seconds, and that was my mistake. As I woke up this morning I did Day 3 again, it worked well:

Set 1: 16 of 16
Set 2: 21 of 21
Set 3: 15 of 15
Set 4: 15 of 15
Set 5: 21 of 21 (min)
June 23, 2011 at 7:43 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Agreed, Marcelo. 100 pushups in a row does not fit my goals either, but I didn't want to jump in here and second-guess other people's objectives. Everyone will benefit in the early days of 100 pushups, and then I suspect some will discover that they don't really want to do all 100, while others will push right ahead and conquer it for whatever reason is personally motivating them.


The only reason I got into that "volume" business was to reply to avrum who said:

<< For me, once the novelty of an exercise program weans (particularly programs that require increased reps, leading to more of the same ol', same ol') , the actual exercises become physically harder to perform. Both a psychological and physical issue for me.>>

Since this effect is universal, I thought it would help to share a strategy for breaking through the inevitable plateaus. Volume principles provide one such strategy.

A related thing to keep in mind is that if you are doing, say, 25 pushups and already bored to tears, it may be because you are not intuitively interested in the goal of building sheer endurance. In that case, you might want to try elevating your feet to make the pushup harder until you can barely manage five. From there, you can work all the way up to a one-arm pushup at very low reps. Bye-bye, boredom!
June 23, 2011 at 8:03 | Registered CommenterBernie
Marcelo (and all):

<< May be Mark Forster already is “extremely fit and full of energy” for his specific needs so he rightly wants to amuse himself with push ups, but I think most of the rest of us aren’t.>>

Bear in mind that most of the point of the 100 Pushup Challenge for me is to show how the Dreams methods can "keep one going during a project which requires consistent effort over a period."

It therefore impacts at least two parts of my vision: fitness and teaching the Dreams methods.

If doing the 100 Pushup Challenge is not part of someone's own personal vision, then the Dreams methods are not going to help them succeed in it.
June 23, 2011 at 12:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:

1. Well done for Week 1, Day 2! Excellent!

2. Me, I've just completed Week 3 Day 3 for sit ups (I started at week 3 as indicated per my initial test).

Set 1: 33 of 33
Set 2: 42 of 42
Set 3: 30 of 30
Set 4: 30 of 30
Set 5: 45 of 45 (min)

3. I reflected on the previous discussion about "fitness" after your last comment, and understood how pointless it is. If someone's vision of "fitness" includes completing the 100 Pushup Challenge or standing half an hour on his head or whatever, then that's it, that's HIS/HER pulling vision. Even if from a more general perspective it may be argued that there are more efficient ways to achieve fitness, if the person dreams about doing 100 pushups - unless there is a real danger in it, which I don’t think there is - then that’s it. It is not about fitness, it is about one’s dreams.

4. I am not well versed or versed at all in the Dreams methods. I did read the book partially and superficially, to have an idea of what is it about, but did not attempt to practice the methods described in it. I think therefore a contribution of value I can make to this thread, is to provide a control case, that of someone pursuing the same goal (the 100 pushups) when it is not a compelling part of his own personal vision (fitness is a central part of my own personal vision but the 100 pushups challenge has only a tangential contribution to it) and does not follow the Dreams Methods - so that the value of the Dreams Methods can be better assessed.
June 24, 2011 at 12:10 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
<<There is not really a “general fitness”, although it is a commonplace in daily parlance. Fitness is always specific: you are fit to do this or that. If you are fit to win a marathon, odds are you will not be fit to win a weight lifting competition, and vice versa.>>

Yet there is a general fitness. One person is into boxing, and another into cycling. And both are fit by all sorts of measures as compared to the third who is into channel surfing.
June 24, 2011 at 15:13 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan:

<< Yet there is a general fitness. >>

I agree with you. "General fitness" is a term which means fit for general purposes, as opposed to being fit for a specific task. If you are going to be, say, a champion tennis player you need a high level of general fitness as well as sport specific training. A person with a high level of general fitness will take far less time to train for a specific sport than a person who is generally unfit.
June 24, 2011 at 16:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Alan:

<<Yet there is a general fitness. One person is into boxing, and another into cycling. And both are fit by all sorts of measures as compared to the third who is into channel surfing.>>

A boxer might be in better physical condition than a coach potato at 22 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmaHGY7BEog ), but not necessarily at 42 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3l6diJ2oZ4&feature=related ). Competitive sports and health (I assume a sick person is not fit) do not go hand in hand. With a few exceptions like swimming, competitive sports have a varying but high risk of injury. Anyone who has been in competition long enough at a level in which the medal is important will be able tell you about his injuries, some of them remaining even many years after he quited the sport.

I admit that a person into recreational sports will be in better shape than a coach potato. But see more about "recreational sports" and "general fitness" below.

Mark:

<<"General fitness" is a term which means fit for general purposes, as opposed to being fit for a specific task. If you are going to be, say, a champion tennis player you need a high level of general fitness as well as sport specific training. A person with a high level of general fitness will take far less time to train for a specific sport than a person who is generally unfit. >>

What you call "general fitness" is environmentally and/or culturally dependent. "A person with a high level of general fitness" in London for example, will hardly be able to breath in a different region of the world ( http://anthro.palomar.edu/adapt/adapt_3.htm ). A 70-80 y/o British lady with a high level of "general fitness" for her culture, will most surely be unable to give a hand to these 70-80 y/o Japanese women ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxKPOH5AiXU&feature=related ). So what you call "general fitness" is in fact fitness for a specific environment/culture.

We can learn a lot about fitness, health, longevity and productivity from other cultures. "Recreational sports" are a need only in our cultural life-style, others spontaneously include enough physical activity in their way of life so that there is no need for such an artifice. Please watch the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-jk9ni4XWk&feature=related Dan Buettner and his brother carried out some serious investigations which are in You Tube as well.

As for push ups, which is the central subject in this thread, I found quite a few norms and averages that give more realistic values than 100 push ups. For your age, an excellent level of fitness in push ups varies from >18 to >30. The RAF requisites for age 50-54 are 11 push ups in one minute. For the aged 17-19 (higher lever) excellent varies from >39 to >56. The RAF requisites are 14 in a minute. See the following links:
http://anthro.palomar.edu/adapt/adapt_3.htm
http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/home-pushup.htm
http://www.raf.mod.uk/careers/canijoin/fitness.cfm

Personally, I did a little test today and I was able to do 30 push ups in a row (5 more than a week ago at the initial test) and 20 in 22 seconds. As my aim is excellency, not supermanhood, I will complete the program - I have another 3 weeks to go, as I started on the third week because of the results in my initial test - aiming at 40-50 push ups. That will place me by far in the excellency level for my age (between >19 to >31), and that's all I want. At the same time I will finish the sit ups which are going well too, and afterwards I will move into pull ups and some other exercise on alternate days, may be running, I don't know yet.

I know your are very committed to the 100 push ups, but I suggest you to consider this new information and set excellent but more realistic goals, otherwise you may get stuck with push ups for a long time and that's not good. I can see my triceps are growing while my biceps remain as they were, it is not equilibrated. But of course it is your decision.

Keep updating, we follow your progress!
June 25, 2011 at 7:56 | Registered CommenterMarcelo
Marcelo:

<< A person with a high level of general fitness" in London for example, will hardly be able to breath in a different region of the world >>

So are you saying that a person with a high level of general fitness in London will be no better off than a couch potato also from London if they both go up into the high Andes?

Living at a high altitude and being a pearl diver both strike me as being fitness for a specific situation, not general fitness.
June 25, 2011 at 11:06 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Marcelo:

<< I suggest you to consider this new information and set excellent but more realistic goals >>

I'm not quite sure what you are warning me against. That I'll spend a long time on push-ups? I know that already. That my triceps will grow bigger than my biceps? I guess I'm prepared to take that risk!
June 25, 2011 at 11:10 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:

Couch, not coach, of course, sorry :) Well, if I am unable to convince you that fitness is a relative concept, I give up. It is not important really.

<<I'm not quite sure what you are warning me against.>>

Oh no, I am not *warning* you against anything! I am not skilfull enough communicating in English so you might have had a wrong impression.

For me the information on how many push ups are considered excellent is new and it changed my perspective on the 100 push ups challenge. My goal after all is excellent fitness, not 100 pushups. Also, an armoniously developed body is part of my notion of excellent fitness and I -wrongly I can see now- assume that everyone shares this notion. So my intention was to share with you this information supposing you might find value in it. That's all. No *warning* whatsoever!

I am willing to leave this theorical discussions aside and focus on achieving excellency in fitness. That's important and we both agree on that.
June 25, 2011 at 13:30 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo

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