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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pointless Challenge

What's a reasonable number of push-ups for a grown man to do?

I ask the question because I aim to top it. I would like, within a year's time to be able to do an "unreasonable" number of push-ups. Not for any good reason, but just to test a theory.

I heard an old wives tale years ago about a young lad who was told to carry a newborn calf around the barn each morning. This wasn't terribly difficult for him, but each day, as the calf grew, his challenge increased. But the increase was so slight each day, that he grew stronger and was able to compensate... and after a year, this young man was able to carry a full grown cow around the barn each morning.

I don't have a barn, or a cow. So push-ups seems like a suitable urban update.

Now, I'm sure many of you will ponder my Bummerman physique and say ten push-ups is my outside limit... but I encourage you to think bigger. I may never carry a cow around a barn, but I want to surprise myself with some physical feat that requires me to practice a tiny bit each day. If I start with a low number and add one each week, I could replicate the wives tale method.

So... Give me a number. And then someone else should tell me that I can't do it. I work better when I've been given a challenge, and told I have poor odds of succeeding.



At 1/18/2007 08:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What, I ask myself, is behind this? What insecurity are you compensating for? Don't you have anything better to do with your time? Does not your Gold's membership satisfy?
OK, here is a challange, for what its worth: I can do 10 straight leg push-ups. Can you do thrice that in 2 months time?
I worked with a guy years ago who wouldn't have sex with his girlfriend unless they each did 100 abdominal crunches first.


At 1/19/2007 03:22:00 AM, Blogger Scotty Walsh said...

I think my comment was lost. I'll abbreviate.

Only one guy out of 80 in my USMC platoon could do 100 pushups at the end of bootcamp, and just barely. 100 is very manly. In American Psycho, I think Christian Bale's character did 1,000 pushups and situps every morning.

My friend used to do 20 pushups every hour he was awake. That works fast.

Great goal. Good luck!

At 1/19/2007 10:29:00 AM, Blogger John said...

So Diane is challenging me to do 30 in 2 months time. Bah! Too easy, and untimately not extraordinary enough. Lots of people can do 30 pushups.

Scotty, I like the way you're thinking. I too was wondering about the challenge of 100. That's pretty daunting, but it seems like I could get there in a year's time. Assuming a few people bet me that I can't.

At 1/19/2007 10:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you can only accomplish something that you actually want to do as long as you are told you can't? Whats with that? screw everyone, and their you can'ts - just do what you want to do beacuase you want to.

At 1/19/2007 12:44:00 PM, Blogger Scotty Walsh said...

I won't bet you that you can't, because you surely can. But I'll tell you this: you're on big guy. I generally feel the desire to stop at around 40 or so. And I'll shoot for 100, too. At the end of the year BBQ we'll see how we do and then have a beer or two. So, I'm not saying you can't, I'm just saying there will be egg on your face at the end of year pushup BBQ if you don't.

At 1/19/2007 03:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could I not chime in?

In the glorious movie "American Psycho" there is a reference to stomach crunches - "I can do a thousand now" - but no mention of push-ups. It should be noted that the Patrick Bateman character is a heavy user of amphetamines and steroids, and none of his physical benchmarks in the movie or book should be attempted unless you, too, are willing to snort coke and eat an occasional human limb.

It's important to note that what we see very briefly in the movie is Christian Bale doing these super-small movements that are nowhere near a full range of motion. They're not really crunches as much as convulsions. Which brings me to something you *must* consider while reaching your goal: how you will define a single repetition.

There are many variations on the push-up move, not all of them respectable. The most full-range (i.e. REAL) push-ups I ever saw a man power through - without pausing - was 48. He was not a big guy or a bodybuilder in any sense of the word, more like a wirey 160lb-ish guy who could also do a few dozen pull-ups. Such things are easier for the small and compact than for those hulking 6'5" giants among men. I've never been in the military, and there are probably guys out there who could do 80 or 100 or more real push-ups. But I would be impressed with 40. (no I can't get anywhere near 40.)

If your push-ups are to be the "half-ups" most guys do at a furious pace where they go halfway down, call it good, and start back up, knocking off 40 won't be that tough. If, on the other hand, you choose to bring your chest to within an inch or two of the floor, 40 would be most impressive.


At 1/19/2007 03:39:00 PM, Anonymous John said...

I believe in quality over quantity.

My challenge to you: perform 40 pushups, in perfect form. Your back should be straight, your legs should line up with your back with your toes spaced approx. 1 inch apart, your hands should be spaced just slightly wider than your shoulders with palms flat on the floor, your abs should be taut, your head and neck should extend out from your shoulders with your eyes facing the floor.

You should be able to move each second, in that you push up and apex in 1 second, you then release to within 1 inch of the floor in 1 second. Your breathing should match this movement with 1 inhale/second and 1 exhale/second.

It should be meditative.

At 1/19/2007 04:31:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

If you do them slowly, it will be tougher...and more beneficial.

At 1/19/2007 10:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I super-duper bet you CANNOT do a 100 high quality, slow moving, 1 inch from the ground, not pausing in between for longer than a second, push-ups within a year!!!!

In fact, I bet that you will give up this whole idea within 2 months or less! Then I will mock you and laugh at your silly tears!!!!

At 1/20/2007 11:59:00 AM, Blogger molly said...

65 gazillion knuckle pushups, 1 inch from the floor, to a slow count of one-mississippi-two-mississippi going down and one-mississippi-two-mississippi going up, with two medium sized people on your back, a herd puppies nipping at your face and a slow fuse leading to a trailer filled with some chemicals that explode in pretty colours (just because explosions are cool, that's all), and all in the time it takes for a long, jammy version of "Freebird".

At 1/21/2007 12:00:00 AM, Blogger John said...

Wow, what fantastic input. I think 40 real pushups is more of a fascinating challenge than 100 half-pushups. I'll see what I can do to give you some competition at the end of the year BBQ Scotty. BTW, who's hosting that this year?

At 1/22/2007 11:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are all nazis!!!

At 1/22/2007 12:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really! What is it about push ups? What about giving 100 hugs in one day (not counting O). Or whacking off ten times a day. Or taking ten dumps a day. I'd like to hear how you work up to that one...

At 1/22/2007 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I learned through trial and error while working at the Seattle Times: you don't follow a bowl of oatmeal with a one-liter bottle of Coke. That's like packing your guts with gunpowder and then swallowing a match.

But if you wish to throw down the 10-dump gauntlet, Herr Bummerman, I will not only rise to your challenge but plummet to my own victory upon the PORCELAIN THRONE OF BOWELOUS THUNDER! And I shall FLUSH AWAY ANY AND ALL HOPE YOU HAVE EVER ENTERTAINED IN YOUR PATHETIC AND PITIFUL CRAPPER'S CRANIUM! SPARTAAAANS! TONIGHT... WE EXCRETE... IN HEEELLLLLLLLLLL!!!

Sparta Soapy

At 1/28/2007 07:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to chime in and give the big baby some much-needed encouragement. It took me three months to get up to doing 3,000 push-ups a day. It sounds like a lot but if have a modicum of give-a-shit it can be done. By the end of my training I was doing the 3,000 in sets of 100. C'mon John you lovely tub of lard you, you can do it. Kidding about the tub of lard thing, but you can anything you put your mind to bro.

Clay - Partially all-knowing.


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