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.
http://www.armyrotc.mtu.edu/Materials/APFT.pdf

So looking for confirmation…

Lance Armstrong’s website, www.livestrong.com 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: http://www.livestrong.com/article/177164-push-up-standards/#ixzz1AyhRcIzX

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)

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