Friday, July 8, 2011

Mighty Push-Ups

I happen to know that I am not alone, as a woman, in my desire to eventually do a "real" push-up.  I know several women who wish they had the upper body strength to do push-ups the right way and I know that many women resent "girl push-ups", including the fact that they're called "girl push-ups".  But sometimes, especially as a woman, it seems like doing a real push-up is an impossible goal that can never be reached because "women just aren't built that way".  Well that's CRAP!  All it takes is some training, some determination, and gradual increase of difficulty.

When I first started doing push-ups eight months ago I laid down on the floor, on my tummy, all stretch out and tried to lift myself up to a standard push-up position.  I didn't even have the upper body strength to get my chest off the floor while keeping my back straight.  I could get my chest off the floor if I left my hips on the floor in a yoga pose called "The Cobra" (I think) but there was no way I was going to lift my hips up and be in a standard push-up position ... so I started doing girl push-ups from my hands and knees.

Now three weeks ago when I first started the three-week plan I learned a few things very quickly (within the first day or two).  1) It is very easy, when doing girl push-ups, to place too much of your weigh on your hips and then, as you go up and down, you're actually using your back muscles rather than your arms for lift.  Avoid making this mistake, there are healthier ways to work-out your back muscles and it will do nothing for your arms.  So, from hands and knees be sure to shift your weight forward over your arms so that they are doing the lifting and lowering.  The first week I really didn't think I was going to make it through 100 push-ups in a single day.  Even breaking them up into smaller groupings was hard and my arms would feel weak and noodely for hours after each set.

But I persevered and they started to get easier.  When I realized I could breeze through 50 with only minor muscle fatigue I started to increase intensity by making small adjustments.  I started to cross my ankles which slightly compromised balance, forcing my arms to compensate so that I didn't fall over.  Then I started to lift my feet up off the floor behind me so that my knees and hands became my only contact with the floor.  Last night I was curious because I've been doing 200 push-ups a week for three weeks and I wanted to see what kind of results I could get from them so I laid down on the floor in standard push-up pose again and tried to lift like I did eight months ago.  Lo and behold ... I DID IT!!!  To my chagrin I still can't lower myself back down to the floor yet but there I was doing a single, very slow push-up from the floor, back straight, butt tucked in, toes and hands on the floor and everything else suspended like a board.  Yeah baby!  Push-ups used to really hurt my wrists most of all but they've gotten stronger too so they don't hurt anymore unless I place my hands too far apart on accident.

So I still can't do standard push-ups but what I did end up doing was increased the distance between my hands and my knees so that I was stretched out a lot more than usual and even more of my body weight was placed on my arms.  I could literally only make it through 50 of them because the increase in intensity was significant BUT ... eight months ago I couldn't even lift myself off the floor and now I can.  That tells me two things: 1) Measurable, quantifiable, legitimate progress has been made!  2) Some day, if I keep at it, I WILL be able to do a "real" push-up.  I just have to keep increasing my upper body strength and decreasing my total body weight.  You can do it ladies, baby steps!

10:30 pm update: Holy mother of pearl I hurt ... I hurt everywhere.  Legs, abs, arms, shoulder, even my back.  I over trained, I give, I submit, white flag, white flag!!!  Someone save me from the pain!

8 glasses of water
1 cup of coffee w/creamer
1 chicken sub
>>the usual fare
1 serving grilled calamari
1 serving grilled veggies
1 serving fried rice
1 dinner salad with asian dressing
Daily Caloric Intake: 1,243

Signing: Today I signed the loan docs on my house ... yeppers.  From about 1:00 pm until 4:30 pm when we were done my adrenaline levels were HIGH!  I was shaking, having trouble breathing, experiencing severe heart palpitations, and even felt like I was going to pass out and throw up at the same time.  It has to have been the single most stressful and physically exhausting experience of my life.  When the adrenaline started to finally come down I started to feel severely weak, exhausted, and still extremely nauseated.
Walking: After the signing we hit yet another furniture store and then the mall before going to dinner at a new Japanese restaurant in town to celebrate / unwind.  I cannot believe how exhausted I am.  I feel like I could easily sleep standing up right now if I needed to, I am THAT TIRED!


  1. A couple push-up tips:
    1) at a diagonal angle(like ->\)do push-ups against the wall. You can practice keeing your back straight and isolating your arms. Keep making your angle steeper to make it harder. more advanced is put your hands on the table or back of the couch with your body at a steep angle.
    2)Do planks with your arms straight, not on your elbows. 15sec X 3, when mastered then 30sec X3, the move onto 1min X 3. The planks help strenthen your back and abs to holding that position.
    Keep working the girly push-ups and you'll get to the real ones :)