Add 10 Push Ups To Your Max Effort By Donnie Kiernan
The push-up is a staple of total fitness. It tests relative strength for your body weight. Ive seen guys who bench press 165lbs for a 1 rep max, bust out 80+ push-ups in one set. On the other hand, I’ve seen guys who bench over 400 lbs struggle with 30. Its mainly about strength to weight ratio. In this installment on traintostandard.com, I’m gonna help you increase those push ups in less than a month. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to ace the military or police physical fitness test, or if you just want to set a new personal record, these few exercises will work. In order to get an accurate reading of your progress, before you start this training cycle, do a baseline test first. Test yourself to see how many push-ups you can do in the alotted amount of time.
The first exercise in this training cycle is the Blast strap/suspended push-up. To perform this movement, use suspended handles from a power rack or a ceiling hook. Start in the “up” position of a push-up and lower your body as low as possible, then return to the up position. Start out with sets of 10 for 3 to 4 sets and increase the number of reps as you get stronger. To increase difficulty, elevate your feet so that your body creates a flat plane at the up position.
Here’s an example of this exercise performed by Elliot Hulse of StrengthCamp.
Another exercise is the high rep, flat bench dumbbell press. Pick a pair of dumbbells that are about 50% of your 1 repetition max and begin by lying flat on a bench and performing a set of 15-20 reps. Once you’ve completed these reps, keep the dumbbells in the up position and rest for 8-10 seconds. After the short rest period, do another set of 10 -12 reps and rest again for 8-10 seconds. Following the second and final short rest period, complete 6-8 reps and re-rack the dumbbells. This exercise will help you get used to the rest/pause action during a push-up performance test. Resistance and strength training is crucial to increasing body weight movements. By adding the extra difficulty in training, you will be more prepared for the max repetition sets when the time comes.
In this next part, the main focus is stability. Core strength and stability plays a HUGE role in the push-up and every other exercise in military and firefighter PT. So if the soldiers need it, so do you! In order to correctly complete a push-up, you must keep your body moving in one fluid motion, which requires your abdominals and posterior chain( which is the series of muscles running down your back and legs) to be constantly contracted.
The third exercise in this training program is the partner assisted push-up. This is about as simple as it sounds. You set up in the “up” position of the push-up and your partner straddles your back and applies resistance on the way down and back up. Be sure to keep your back and butt straight and not saging on the way up. Complete 4-5 sets of 12-15 repetitions to start and increase resistance when it starts getting easier to complete the reps.
The fourth exercise is a “plank or a “table top”, which focuses on core contraction. To execute this movement, lie down on your stomach with your arms bent underneath your shoulders. When the exercise begins you lift up your butt so that it creates an rising flat line from your feet to your shoulders, while resting your upper body on your elbows. To get the full effect of this exercise, keep your abdominals and lower back contracted for the entire duration of the set. start out with 30 second holds and work your way up to 1 minute at a time. Complete a total of 3 sets; rest in between sets should be no longer than 90 seconds.
Here is an excellent demonstration of this should be performed.
By now you should be noticing a big increase in your max push-ups, now were gonna work on the brute strength aspect of the deal! If you’ve ever been a member of a “commercial gym” (aka ballys, golds, lifestyles, etc), You’ll undoubtedly notice that Monday is universal “bench day.” Almost everyone who “works out” or trains benches, and for a good reason, it works. Bench press is an excellent compound strength training exercise that works almost every muscle in the body(including your glute/hamstring combo). So, why wouldn’t someone who wants to increase their push-up not perform the bench press? You would, if you were smart. Start out with about 60% of your one rep maximum on the bench and do a set of 12 reps. after a short break move to 70% and perform 10 reps, followed by 8 reps of 75% and finally 6 reps of 80%, all with breaks in between.
Perform this exercise once every 5-7 days, giving yourself plenty of time for recovery. Also, after you are done training, consume some sort of protien based liquid or solid, as you will need plenty of it for proper muscle recovery. Remember when you’re training, you are in a catabolic state. In order to improve your strength, you must return to an anabolic state ASAP. Ingesting a protien and simple sugar substance will kick start your body into repair stage.
Our final exercise in this series will be the medicine ball push-up!. This can be performed with anything from a medicine ball to a sandbag, pretty much anything that can elevate one of your arms about 6-12?s off the ground. To perform this exercise, you lie in the push-up position with the medicine ball underneath your right palm, elevating your right arm. Perform 10 push ups, lowering your body to the ground as you would with a normal push-up. After you have completed this, switch the medicine ball to the left side and complete 10 more repetitions. You should complete 3 or 4 sets of this, increasing the reps as you become more experienced. Make sure you are not going to failure, but make it difficult to complete the reps. The lovely Hannah Johnson from Elitefts.com demonstrates this movement.
Armed with this grab bag of uncommon exercises and your relentless work ethic, you should be more than prepared for that military/firefighter physical fitness test or that personal record you’ve been dying to reach.
Get strong, STAY strong
About The Author
Donnie Kiernan is an amateur strongman competitor and a member of the United States Army Reserves. His training methods, interviews of strength athletes and articles can be viewed at Train to Standard. His website caters to military and civil service members, as well as everyday people, who want to incorporate strength training with cardiovascular and plyometric exercises.