Now that we’ve come to the end of the 30-Day push-up challenge, let’s crunch some numbers.
If you did, say, 50 push-ups a day (broken up into as many sets as necessary), and took a day off twice during each week, you would have knocked out 1,100 push-ups. You could have easily found the time to do this while your coffeemaker worked its morning magic or your favorite TV show went to commercial.
That’s a lot of work for your chest, shoulders, back and arms, and you should have started to see improvements in your strength, muscular endurance and in how you look and feel.
So, where do you want to go with these modest gains? If you want to maintain the new fitness level you’ve achieved, keeping your repetitions and workout frequency the same will do that. You’ll stay fit and your overall appearance will likely improve until you hit a plateau a few months down the road.
But if you want to keep improving, you have several options. You can make the push-ups harder, you can increase the number you do daily or you can crank up the intensity. Even though the classic push-up is one of the great upper body exercises, you can add exercises to get even stronger. One of the best is dips on parallel bars (or a dipping stand). They are essentially harder push-ups that really work your triceps, shoulders and chest.
Serious athletes and bodybuilders do dips – and they’re seriously hard. But you can do an easier version on a chair or bench, with your legs stretched on the floor in front of you.
Then there’s motivation. Not to get too philosophical, but why are you doing push-ups? Overall fitness? Overall appearance? Improved performance in a sport? If you don’t know why, it’s going to be hard to stay motivated.
One of the benefits of a 30-Day challenge is that it gets you in the habit and keeps you focused. You know what you have to do and, because the time frame is rather compact, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But 30 days are up and now it’s the rest-of-your-life challenge. In order to keep going, you’ll have to figure out what motivates you. Are you the kind of person who likes to stick to a plan? Or do you like to wing it and do random exercises here and there when you have a break in your day? Both ways work, but you have to know what works for you.
If you’re looking for some focus and consistency, look no farther than your smartphone. I’ve found several fitness apps that are easy to use and provide just enough of a nudge to keep you on track.
Gorilla Workout costs $1 for its basic workout program, and another $1 for add-ons like the push-up challenge or the 100 push-ups routine. Don’t let the name throw you – you don’t have to be a gorilla to get through this. In fact, there are four levels of difficulty. If you can handle the highest level, you might be ready for the Olympic trials or the NFL combine.
There are several free apps you can use to improve your push-ups. Some are for 30-day challenges. Others are to reach 100 push-ups. If you can do 100 proper push-ups, you are in seriously good shape. Let’s just hope you’re doing something for your legs, too.
Beyond push-ups, you may want to pursue a more complete bodyweight workout program. The best app out there for that is “You Are Your Own Gym,” based on the book of the same name by Mark Lauren. It has an incredible number of workouts, whether you’re looking for a long-term plan to follow or a quick, intense circuit-style workout that takes 15-20 minutes.
A good eBook for bodyweight fitness is “Strong Anywhere” by Simon Boulter. It includes an excellent variety of exercises, including several push-up varieties to keep you going for years. Perhaps Boulter’s best advice is to take your time and progress at your own pace. Doing too much too soon is a recipe for failure.
One other benefit of apps and ebooks? There’s no clutter. All that reading material is stored in your phone or your Kindle, not sprawled all over your coffee table or countertop. Which leads us to our next 30-Day challenge — we’re going to tackle clutter.
Whether you merely have to tidy up or toss out all kinds of stuff you don’t need, you’ll be better organized, happier, more productive and more likely to exercise when you have less clutter in your life. Stay tuned next week for a 30-Day plan to declutter your way to health and happiness.