About 6 weeks ago I set out to get in the best shape of my life before my 45th birthday. One of my goals was getting to 100 push-ups in a row. Everything is going well enough but I hit a wall on my push up progression. The problem is that the training program I picked didn’t work for me.
There are a lot of programs that claim to be able to get you up to 100 consecutive push-ups. I’m sure most of them will eventually get you there if you stick with it. After a couple of weeks of nearly obsessive reading, I think I have a grasp on a training program that will work for me.
May 4th Update
As of today I have 115 days until I turn 45. As you know from reading my introduction my goal is to be able to knock out 100 push ups in a row. So far I have tried 2 different plans and you can read about them below. Both helped me make progress but I needed to do more to reach my goal.
It won’t surprise anybody that the COVID-19 quarantine has really set me back on making my goals. The gym is shut down, I hurt my shoulder a few months back, there isn’t a safe place available to run, blah blah blah. I could keep on making excuses but I am going to reach my goal, or at least give it my best effort.
If you have read anything I’ve written about reaching your goals you should know that I am a big fan of constant adjustment. So here is my plan for the next 115 days. It is basically the “Greasing the Groove” plan discussed below but more formalized and more intense.
I have 115 days, or about 16 weeks, until my deadline. I will be doing 10 push-ups and 5 body weight squats an hour from 7am until 4pm. That’s 10 sets a day for 100 daily push-ups and 50 squats. I just started and I found that I was a bit tired at the end of the day but this is a pretty easy load.
I’m not worried about that though because my goal is to basically follow the “Grease the Groove” method. Consistency and maintaining my form is more important than pushing hard. I have to do this for 115 days, I don’t want to be sore and miserable for the whole thing.
Every week after the second I’ll add one to the rep count. This should put me at 250 push-ups and 125 squats by the last week. I feel really confident that if I am doing that much work every day I’ll reach my goal.
If you want to follow along I’ll be posting my progress on our twitter account and I’ll be sending out progress reports on our newsletter. Sign up to stay up do date. If you send me your update I’ll be sure and pass them along and help you out along the way.
My Original Plan
It’s always good to look at what didn’t work when your making adjustments. Before I start I feel I need to say that the original plan may have eventually worked and it might still be the right plan for you. I hit a wall and stopped making progress. Instead of sticking with it and falling further behind I decided to make the change.
The original plan involved doing 60% of your max push ups daily for 7 days. After that you add one each day. So when I started my max was 34 good push-ups. So I did 18 push-ups. I actually did it for about 10 days because I wasn’t seeing progress and didn’t think I was ready to start increasing it. 2 weeks later I was struggling to keep up with the daily increase.
I picked this method because I know someone who swears by it. By the time I stopped I was still struggling to break 40. The program simply didn’t place enough stress on my muscles to stimulate the level of progress I needed. So now I have done some research and found something that I am confident will get me to 100 push-ups.
Strength is a Skill
This concept is from Pavel Tsatsouline’s method of training. He coined the phrase “Greasing the Groove” to describe how strength practice (not working out) improves the muscle mind connection. The idea is that strength is a skill and the more you practice the better (stronger) you will get.
His training method involves practicing a movement that you want to improve multiple times a day. This practice will reinforce the neurological grooves and make the movement easier to perform. The key is multiple sets spread throughout the day.
The goal is practicing the movement, not exercising the muscle. So sets are kept in the 40%-50% of your max. You should never feel fatigued or sore because that is an indicator that you are overworking.
You can watch the video below for a deeper explanation of “Greasing the Groove”.
More From Pavel Tsatsouline
My New 100 Push-Up Training Plan
Based on the concepts of “Greasing the Groove” I have changed my program to get to 100 push-ups in a row. In the last 2 weeks, I have already seen a lot of improvements. My wife, Summer, has also been doing this and has seen a lot of progress.
- Do around half my max push-ups focusing on a full range of motion, good tempo, and technique. Make sure I stop before any of those are compromised.
- Make sure I have at least 15-20 minutes between sets. I want to be as fresh as possible each time.
- End each set with planks. Planks work the same core muscles that push-ups do. Because of that, I end each set with a short 1minute plank.
- Do as many sets over the day as I can fit in. I don’t have a target number. During the week I usually get 6-8 sets in. On weekends it is easily over 10 and I often try for 15-20 sets.
Benefits of Push-Ups
Push-Ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises for upper body and core strength. You will see the most benefits in your triceps, shoulders, and chest but if you do them right you will also work your glutes and abs.
There is a reason that push-ups are often used as a measuring stick for body strength. Since it engages the whole body any weaknesses become obvious. If your core or glutes are weak you won’t be able to maintain the proper posture. If your upper body is weak you won’t be able to do very many.
Doctors have also started to use push-ups as an indicator of health. There is a study that found a significant association between push-up capacity and cardiovascular health in men.
How To Do A Push-Up
It can be really hard to do a proper push-up and a lot of people struggle with their form. The key is to engage your core and glutes for stability and then push through the floor using your chest and back. Instead of trying to explain it here watch this video by Castle-Mason. He does a wonderful job teaching how to do a proper push-up.
There is a lot of variety when it comes to push-ups. Each one exercises a different muscle group a bit more than others. I encourage you to mix it up a bit to avoid burnout and to target weaknesses.
If you are “Greasing the Groove” it is important to remember that repetition is very important to building that mind-muscle connection. If you change up the movement too often you are not going to get the same benefits.
I have designated Wednesday as the one day a week that I do different variations. It’s a nice break and keeps things interesting. The rest of the week I stick with standard push-ups. Here are my 4 favorite variations but I am always adding more.
Note: in the last one he shows it using a medicine ball. I do mine with a single dumbbell instead. A medicine ball would work better but I don’t have one so I make do.
Do You Need Special Equipment to Do Push-Ups?
Like everything in fitness there are a lot of special gadgets and equipment to help you do push-ups. Most of the time, if you have healthy shoulders and wrists, you wont need any of it. They can make your workouts more comfortable and will probably help you maintain your form longer.
Personally I have found that push-up bars like the one below make my shoulder hurt less. If you have a set of barbells that wont roll you can use those as well. That’s what I use and it works perfectly well.
How Many Calories Do Push Ups Burn?
A standard push-up burns about 1 calorie each. You can potentially double this by doing them faster than normal or by adding resistance. Sadly, this means you are probably not going to be losing weight by doing push-ups.
I found this question on Quora while researching push-ups and thought it was interesting enough to share here. I have never worried about how many calories I burn when I work out. Maybe I should but I have learned that I’ll never do enough push-ups to make a difference in weight loss.
Thanks For Reading!
Thank you so much for reading this blog post. I am dedicated to reaching this goal before my next birthday. If you would like to join in that would be amazing. Either way I hope that this blog post inspired you to push yourself on reaching your goals. If you enjoyed it I would really appreciate if you could share it with your friends. Thanks again!