How many push-ups can you do?

I was talking with a long-time friend and business associate today, that’s been reading our blog, and having a chat about the challenge of consistency and discipline…and the ebb and the flow as we try to keep it all going all the time.

He’s a personal trainer, and works with a lot with seniors…and turning 65 this year said that he too had a goal…to do 65 push-ups…one for every year…and he’s in on this deal with another friend of his who’s even older, doing his age=push-ups.

We had a laugh when I said “what over 3 days…like is there a time limit on this?”… reminds of when I tell people about the Ironman…similar response to the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run thing 🙂

My immediate thought…and still was late in the evening…is that if I wanted to even try to do any push-ups it would need to be on a day when I had lots of recovery days in front of me…having just written a post about stiff muscles seemed way to timely…and I’m sure that I’d be totally embarrassed at the effort..a few foo-foo yoga ‘planks’ just are not enough to get me ready for a push-up war.

But it did lead me to think about specificity of training…for another post…but more specifically about push-ups.

When I was growing up, push-ups and sit-ups, and how many you could do within a specific time period were the benchmarks of fitness…and I could do a lot…and then Dr. Ken Cooper added on the idea that you might want to add a run onto that equation for fitness definition in 1968 with his breakthrough book Aerobics

…and I remember wearing out his later book called Aerobics Program For Total Well-Being: Exercise, Diet , And Emotional Balance, and still have it on my bookshelf…published in 1985.

Ah, but to keep it going…whatever that ‘it’ is for you…over days, weeks, months, years, decades…a lifetime…that’s a real trick.  For me there’s been an ebb and a flow…the gods of fate allowing, I’ll be standing at the starting line of my 5th Ironman in Florida this year…with my daughter…unbelievable.

But you know, 65 push-ups seemed like a lot to me…so I looked it up…turns out that it is.

The Army ROTC says that for age 62+, 50 push-ups is 100 percentile…(their ‘official’ chart stops at 52-56, where 100% is 56 push-ups)…that is to say, at 50 push-ups at 62+, you can do more than 100% of their testing base…like _all_ of them…everybody…like have the world record…dang.

So looking for confirmation…

Lance Armstrong’s website, says 

For males in their 40s, completing over 25 push-ups is excellent. Doing 13 to 24 push-ups is good, but performing fewer than nine needs improvement.
Read more:

Well that’s obviously pretty wimpy…I guess not many age 40+ cyclists trying to get into the Army…good thing…they can’t get in with those results…according to the Army standards, the Armstrong ‘excellent’ level of 25 push-ups is only middle of the pack…49th percentile…if you’re 40 years old, you need to be able to do 34 push-ups…60th percentile…to get in.

…and just one more example of a constant theme: expert opinions and studies are all over the place, so _always_ consider the source and test sample of anything that you read

So my friend, at 65 push-ups…as it turns out at _any_ age is so over the top it’s totally incredible…there’s only one thing left as far as I can see that I could possibly suggest…increase the intensity…the triathlete bike equivalent is called ‘VO2 Max Intervals in the Pain Cave’…(more on that in a future post).

I found a video of the equivalent in the push-up world…enjoy…let me how they work out 🙂
(full screen by clicking on the small rectangle in the lower right corner of the video once it starts to play)

This entry was posted in Dad's Blog Posts, Exercise, strength training and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *