Hello, brave challenger. Today, we embark on a Grand Fitness Adventure: The Perfect Push-Up Challenge!
Can’t do a push-up? No big – I’ll get you there. You will soon become so awesome at push-ups that you’ll be able to do more than your boyfriend (and then we will point and laugh at him, it’ll be so much fun!).
If you join us on this adventure, not only will you be able to join a private facebook support community where you’ll meet new friends and accountability partners, BUT if you send us a video of your bad-ass self doing your first push-up ever, you could win some incredibly awesome prizes.
Challenge Accepted? Let’s Do This!
Progressive Overload > Program Hopping
Last week, we discussed the dangers of program hopping (constantly changing your routine without rhyme or reason).
If you change your exercise plan too much, you will not get any better at the movements, your body will not adapt to the challenge you are demanding of it, and you will not get results.
The best way to achieve athletic improvements (which will translate to a small waist-line!) is through progressive overload, the act of increasing the stress placed on the body during exercise.
To achieve progressive overload, you could: gradually do more repetitions of a movement, add weight to the bar if you’re in a gym, gradually shorten rest periods, or work your way up to more difficult variations of a movement.
If you want to read more about program hopping and progressive overload, click here for more information.
Why Should I Do Push-Ups?
Because resistance training is awesome. Why is resistance training awesome? Here are my top three reasons:
#1 – You get better results in less time (it is uber efficient!). While you might burn more calories in an hour jog, resistance training has a much greater effect on your metabolism (translation: it speeds it up big time), so you will burn more total calories in the Big Picture.
#2 – Body-weight resistance training movements are fun, playful, and functional for your daily life. These movements are a lot more fun than jogging; they will also improve your posture, strength, balance, and physique.
#3 – Resistance training is a fat burning and muscle building exercise. Don’t worry, ladies – it won’t make you bulky. Those scary-looking female body-builders? They look like that because they take steroids, not because of how they are training. If resistance training made you “bulky,” I would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by now.
Prepare for Your Perfect Push-Up Challenge
First, I need you to find a high, low, and medium surface to push yourself up from. Those could be tables, chairs, counters, sinks, or even your wall.
The high one will be easiest, the low one will be toughest, and the medium one somewhere in between.
For example, you could use your wall (high), kitchen sink (medium), and 2 chairs placed next to each other (low).
Experiment with various surfaces in your home before you start to make sure they’re stable enough to support your body and the resistance you are adding. Safety first!
Your Push-Up Training Schedule
We are going to begin with the high surface and work out way down to the more difficult ones during weeks 1-3. Below is your push-up training schedule for those weeks (I will combine the full routine together at the end of this article – this is only a small chunk!).
Week 1: High Incline Push-Ups
Week 2: Medium Incline Push-Ups
Week 3: Low Incline Push-Ups
So this means, using the example surfaces from above, you could do push-ups on a wall during week 1 (high incline), on the kitchen sink during week 2 (medium incline), and on two chairs during week 3 (low incline).
The consistent training style will ensure you get results, and the occasional change-up will keep training fun and interesting! This = Progressive overload at its finest.
For the above three push-up variations, perform the movements slowly and under control with a 2 second pause at the top and bottom of the movement. The pauses will remove momentum from the equation, which will help you develop strength more effectively than if you did the movement quickly. In other words: no cheating!
During week 4, you will be introduced to a brand-new exercise: negative push-ups! This simply means that you will begin at the top of the push-up position and perform the lowering portion as slowly as possible.
Week 5 will be a recovery week where you’ll take a breather from all that hard work. We will accomplish this by returning to the high incline push-ups from week 1 (but expect to be able to do more of those now than you could before because of all this other work!).
Let’s do this. Your goal? Do a real push-up.
You should be a whole lot stronger as a result of the last five weeks, but push-ups are tough – so if you still can’t do a real one, don’t panic. Go ahead and swap-in the negative push-ups from week 4 if you have to. Do these consistently and you will get to the real deal!
A Balanced, Effective Workout
Of course, it’s important to do a training routine that is balanced (meaning it works all of your major muscle groups equally), so I am going to add in some additional exercises to work your full body.
Your Full Training Breakdown
For the following six weeks, you will be performing two alternating workouts: Workout A and Workout B.
Workout A (Resistance Training — Strength Focus)
A1 Squats — 3 sets of 15-30
(full squats — for more experienced) (half squats — for less experienced)
A2 Push-Ups* — 3 sets of as many as possible (AMAP)
B1 Dynamic Lunges — 3 sets of 10-20 (each leg)
B2 Wall Pulls — 3 sets of 10-20
“A1” and “A2” means that squats and push-ups are a super set. This means that you would perform one set of squats, rest, one set of push-ups, rest, another set of squats, rest, another set of push-ups, rest (and repeat until you completed all 3 sets).
You would to the exact same thing with the dynamic lunges and wall pulls. One set of lunges, rest, one set of wall pulls, rest, another set of lunges, rest, another set of wall pulls, rest, etc.
I am setting a large repetition range, because you are all unique individuals with different starting points. Don’t freak out about “the ideal repetition range.” Simply perform as many repetitions as you can and discontinue the exercise when you can’t do it with proper form. It is important to push yourself, but be safe. When you can’t do a movement correctly, that means it’s time to stop.
* — Please use the above push-up weekly breakdown to determine what style of push-ups you are doing from week-to-week. You will simply do as many as you can every time with the goal of adding more push-ups as time goes on.
Workout B (Metabolic Training — Fat Loss Focus)
Push-ups — 1 set of AMAP (see note above).
Jumping Jacks — 25
Mountain Climbers — 20
Burpees — 10
You will begin Workout B with a single set of push-ups for a simple reason: practice makes perfect, and a single set will be enough to help you improve while still allowing your body to recover.
“Metabolic” is just a fancy word for fat burning. In other words, these exercises are kind of like cardio, but they’re just more fun (and way more effective!).
Perform as many rounds of the above circuit as you can with no rest in between each exercise.You may take a rest after you complete the round. Simply do as many rounds as you can. Today, you might want to start with one round (one set of each exercise). But next week, you could try two rounds and the next week, you could try three rounds.
Also, let’s make your metabolic training interesting by playing with the rest periods (remember, this is another way to incorporate progressive overload!). Please follow the proceeding rest period schedule for your Metabolic Training:
- Week 1 — Rest 2 minutes in between every round (as in after you have performed all 3 exercises in a row, not after each individual exercise)
- Week 2– Rest 90 seconds in between each round
- Week 3 — Rest 1 minute
- Week 4 — Rest 30 seconds
- Week 5 — Rest 2 minutes (recovery week!)
- Week 6 — No rest (this is your final push, let’s make it count!)
Scheduling Your Training
I would like you to train three days a week, with one day of rest in between every training session.
That could look like this:
Mon. — A
Tues. — Off
Wed. — B
Thurs. — Off
Fri. — A
Sat/Sun. — Off
Or it could look like this:
Mon. — Off
Tues. — A
Wed. — Off
Thurs. — B
Fri. — Off
Sat. — A
Sun. — Off
Fit it in however you need to do it, just make sure you alternate the two workouts back and forth and always take at least a day of rest before every session. Go ahead and mark the next six weeks of training in a calendar or planner, and treat these workouts as if they are incredibly important appointments (because they are!).
Do You Have What It Takes?
Won’t you join us? Fat will die and muscle will be born in its place. Your strength will increase and improved confidence will tag along for the ride. You will become so awesome at push-ups that you’ll be able to do more than your boyfriend or hubby, and then you will have eternal bragging rights. What a deal!
Aubrey was nice enough to create a private Facebook support group for those of you brave enough to accept this challenge. You will meet new friends and accountability partners to keep you on track, you’ll have access to this smart trainer guy who knows things (that’s me!), AND if you send us a video of you doing your first push-up ever, you could win some fun prizes!