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Sunday, January 31, 2010

7 Weeks to 100 Pushups: Week 1

As I wrote last Monday, I'm trying the workout in Steve Speirs's book 7 Weeks to 100 Pushups, and I'm going to update you as I go. I've done the first week now, so here's my first report.

Can I really get to where I can do 100 pushups in a row in only 7 weeks? If this first week is any indication, it might be difficult. You may recall that the program calls for 3 workouts a week - on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - to allow plenty of recuperation time between workouts. There are 5-8 sets of pushups in each workout, with varying numbers of pushups in each set. I've listed each day's requirements, and underneath you'll see my actual pushups (preceded by an "R", which is me, aka Ruthless Golf). For your reference, this is the only workout I'm doing other than some aerobics, and I'm going a bit easier on those here at the beginning until I see how hard this workout really is.

M: 6 - 8 - 6 - 6 - 7+
R: 6 - 8 - 6 - 6 - 11

The first day went pretty much according to schedule. I made the required number of pushups for each set, and went 4 over on the last set. (That 7+ means I should do at least 7, but I'm to try and do as many as possible over that.) I did a total of 37 pushups. (Yes, there's a place to record that on the workout chart.) I was tired when I finished, but no pain and I recovered just fine. I was ready to go on Wednesday.

Or so I thought.

W: 8 - 10 - 8 - 8 - 9+
R: 8 - 10 - 8 - 6 - 4

This was a rough day. I'm chalking it up to my attempts to do the pushups in strict form. In any exercise, there are ways to cheat, or make the exercise a little easier. A classic example is arching your back when doing bench presses with a barbell; this allows you to get some extra help from your back muscles, rather than focusing on your chest. Apparently I've been letting my elbows "fly" away from my body a bit; today I did better keeping them in, and my triceps just gave out. That last set, when I made only 4 pushups, totally drained me. I did a total of 36 pushups, almost as many as Monday, but I was beat; and when I woke up Thursday morning, my shoulders and arms felt like dead weight. (Understand that they didn't hurt, they were just incredibly tired.) I felt better after I'd been up an hour or so, but wondered how I would feel Friday.

I woke up feeling good Friday... but I had felt good Wednesday, too. If there was a difference, it was that I felt bigger. Sounds a little silly, but that's the only word I have for it. Particularly, my triceps felt a little harder to the touch (not necessarily bigger, just harder). And there may have been something to it, as evidenced by the chart:

F: 9 - 12 - 9 - 9 - 11+
R: 9 - 12 - 9 - 7 - 7

Even though I really tried to visualize my chest muscles doing the work (imagined resistance), my triceps (tricepses?) gave out on the fourth set again. But I still did more reps in each set of this workout, especially that last set, and I did a total of 44 pushups. That's almost a 25% increase over the the other days, which is definitely an improvement. If I can just get past that fourth set!

This is a good example of a plateau, or wall. I was stuck at a certain level, then suddenly made a big jump in performance. And despite breaking the total pushups plateau, I'm still hitting a wall at the fourth set. No matter what kind of workout you do, this sort of thing will happen to you occasionally. (Perhaps the program anticipates this. I notice that next Monday's chart is almost identical to this Friday's; that doesn't happen at any other time in the program.)

The charts also have spaces for total reps in each set, as well as total reps for the week. I've done a total of 117 pushups this week; the target, if you ignore the "+" in the last sets, was 126. I'm behind, but I've improved. I'll take that!

So now it's Saturday night. I've been working on this post since Thursday, so I could accurately record what happened each day; and since this will post early Sunday, I can't tell you how I'll be feeling when you read this. But although I woke up feeling a little tired this (Saturday) morning, it was nothing like what I felt Thursday. Apparently my belief that I made some kind of breakthrough Wednesday was correct. Hopefully I'll get fully recovered by Monday (if shoveling snow doesn't mess things up) and get off to a good start on Week 2.


  1. What are you doing between sets of pushups ? Just resting ? I read something a few weeks ago suggesting jumping rope between sets of weight work.

  2. Yes. The book suggested 60 seconds of rest between sets, although it also said to take more if you need it. I took 90 seconds between the last two sets on Friday, hoping that might help me do more... but I couldn't tell any real difference between that and the 60-second rests between the other sets.

    I suspect the longer rest helps more if your muscles are burning or you're breathing hard. I wasn't breathing particularly hard, and any burning was over in less than 60 seconds, even on that last set.

    I should have mentioned that. Thanks for bringing it up.