Sunday, February 14, 2010

7 Weeks to 100 Pushups: Week 3

This is my third week following the workout in Steve Speirs's book 7 Weeks to 100 Pushups. As with last week's report, I've listed the workout schedule for each day, followed by what I actually did. (The "R" stands for Ruthless Golf.)

You might remember that I didn't get to do my workout last Friday until very late, only a couple of hours before bedtime; and because I had trouble finishing the last set, I took a few minutes' rest before doing a couple of extra sets of pushups. Well, while I slept ok Friday night, I didn't sleep well either Saturday or Sunday night.

During the first week of this program, I had a day when I got really tired but I recovered just fine; since I didn't recover this time, I'm chalking this one up to doing it so close to bedtime. I decided to skip the Monday workout entirely and try to pick up again Wednesday. If I struggle the rest of this week, I'll just repeat Week 3 next week.

M: 11 - 14 - 11 - 11 - 16+
R: -- skipped --

By Tuesday night my sleep patterns seemed to be back to normal, and I felt good Wednesday. I expected some trouble after missing Monday, however.

W: 12 - 15 - 12 - 12 - 18+
R: 12 - 15 - 12 - 9 - 13

I was surprised to do as well as I did. I allowed a bit more time to rest between the last two sets -- an extra 60 seconds -- which may have helped. Nevertheless, my total came out to 61 pushups -- only 2 less than was expected for Monday's workout (which technically should have been the one I did today). That's the closest I've come since the very first session, despite having gone five whole days between workouts. It was 8 short of Wednesday's expectations, of course, but I'm still encouraged. Maybe I'll make a quantum leap Friday and end up on track.

F: 13 - 16 - 14 - 14 - 20+
R: 13 - 16 - 11 - 10 - 11

So much for quantum leaps! Friday was a real struggle, as you can see. Ironically, I did a total of 61 pushups, the same as Wednesday. This makes the decision for me -- I'm going to repeat Week 3 next week and see if I can do a better job of things. I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that I had to skip Monday's workout, so I couldn't possibly be expected to make it. (Mind games can be a good thing!)

As I mentioned earlier, the Monday workout requires 63 pushups, just 2 less than I've managed during each of my two workouts this week. That should make it easier for me to catch up to the program's demands.

One thing I noticed today... if you've ever worked out, you've probably experienced what bodybuilders call a "pump." That's where the amount of blood to your muscles is increased to the point that they temporarily increase in size. Well, my right shoulder "pumps" a lot less than my left, which probably means it's a little weaker. Instead of doing extra sets of regular pushups, I've decided to add a few one-armed wall pushups to try and strengthen my right shoulder. I did two sets of these Friday; we'll see if that helps.

So here are two things you can learn from my efforts to follow this program; maybe they'll help you get past some of your own stumbling blocks:
  1. It's not unusual to have muscle imbalances, and sometimes they're the source of aches and pains. (In my case, I'm righthanded and tend to use my left hand and arm to brace myself when doing things. My left shoulder is also the one that tends to get hurt the most -- probably because I put more stress on it.) Don't be surprised if you discover a similar problem when you start working out. One of your goals should be to try and correct these imbalances when you find them.
  2. The expectations of a program created by others (or even by us!) sometimes overestimate what we can do. Don't be ashamed to back up and repeat a week once or even twice, and do it as often as necessary. Always remember that the goal is to improve, not meet someone else's expectations.
Finally, I woke up kinda tired Saturday morning; nothing major, but I could definitely feel it in my upper body. But I've got two days to recover, and then I'll repeat Week 3 and see what happens.

Note: A "one-armed wall pushup" means I stand arm's-length from a wall, place my hand against the wall in front of the center of my chest, and use just that arm to push myself away from the wall. This is difficult enough to make me work, but I'm unlikely to strain myself. I can do about 30 of these; when I'm done, my right shoulder feels almost as tired as my left, so I'm guessing my left shoulder carries most of the load during my regular workout. Hopefully this will help balance the work evenly between my shoulders.

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