March 4, 2016

A Pushup Per Day

I wrote this post yesterday on the plane, but then didn’t get to post it last night because I was busy getting sick from food poisoning! Sucks a lot, but it was entirely my fault for eating sketchy sushi that I knew I shouldn’t. After a night of throwing up everywhere though, I woke up today feeling tired and icky but not actually sick, so hopefully I can still salvage this short vacation. We’ll see if today becomes the day I break my pushup streak though…. keep reading for more on that!

Today is the 63rd day of the year. I know this not because I’m some kind of date savant, but because I started a challenge to do one pushup on the first of the year and then add one pushup per day after that, and today I did 63 pushups.

Full body.

In one sitting (planking?).

How awesome is that?!

I didn’t know how long I would last with this particular challenge, but a coworker mentioned it to me as a neat thing to do for a month, and I decided I’d give it a shot. Although I used to do plenty of pushups, I started the challenge being able to do mayyyyybe a set of 10 – if that. But it turns out that adding on just one per day is pretty easy, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my progress.

When I first started doing these pushups, I made it a rule that I had to do them all in one shot, with no breaks. I kept that up until day 30, and now I allow myself to come out of plank position and shake my arms out, but not get up off the floor until all of my pushups for the day are done. I generally do a set of 30, then a set of 15, and then a set of 10, and then whatever’s left. (Today, that was a final set of 8.) I haven’t timed myself, but I know that it takes me less than two minutes, since I usually put music on while I do my pushups and it usually takes me about half a song – so I’m not taking excessively long rest breaks by any means.

I have come a long way since day one, though. I remember when 15 pushups in one shot seemed like an accomplishment, and yet the next day, going to 16 didn’t seem any harder. One of the classes I regularly attend, Body Sculpt at Grit Fitness, generally has us doing about 25 pushups per class in different variations, and I’m really proud that I am usually the first one in the class to finish. Furthermore, this week we were doing a variation on plyo pushups where we jumped our legs out into a plank jack at the bottom of each pushup, and I was really proud that I could do those with my nose all the way down to the floor (and yes, still back straight) without any trouble. I’ve also mastered one legged pushups, which I had previously thought were the kind of impossible thing that only bodybuilders did. Next up: plyo clapping pushups, and maybe someday even one-handed pushups?!?! That would be pretty awesome.

If he can do it, I can do it. (Maybe.)

Beyond the physical challenge and how proud I am of my newfound chest muscle strength, it’s been really interesting to see how the mental side affects my performance. While originally I told myself I’d do as many in a set as I could, I’m finding that I’m actually getting a number for each set in my head and that it magically gets really tough when I’m two or three pushups away from that number. For example, if I tell myself I’m going to do 30 pushups in my first set, I bang out the first 20 pretty fast. But then 20-25 are challenging (though still close to the same pace), 26-28 are hard and slower, and 29-30 are nearly impossible until I finally get a rest break. Ten seconds later, pushups 1-10 are fine, 11-13 are hard, and pushups 14-15 are once again so hard I’m not sure I’ll finish the set. Just goes to show how much your own expectations shape your performance!

I don’t know how long I’ll keep this pushup challenge going. Right now, two minutes is barely any time commitment. Assuming I keep the same average pace (a big assumption!), that means that when I’m halfway through the year, it will take me about 6 minutes to do 180 pushups. Still not a big time commitment, but 180 pushups in one shot seems fairly unfathomable! My original goal was just to make it through two months and see how it went from there, but we’re a few days into March and I’m still feeling good about it – so I’m going to set my sights now on getting to day 100 on April 9th, and then deciding from there whether to keep going.

As I learned with running marathons, small incremental changes can add up to a big result. I’m really proud of my progress thus far, and looking forward to seeing how long I can keep it up!


2 thoughts on “A Pushup Per Day”

  1. So how many pushups are on today’s agenda for your poor l’il overwrought bod? 🙁 Be kind to yourself…no one will fault you for a sick day!

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