This all started with just a casual conversation between myself, a colleague from another school, and a number of boys we both either teach or taught at one time or another. We were running one of our nightly “check-ins” with our boys and the topic of training came up. “Yo… I’m doing 100 pushups a day… I have stopped doing anything else and I love it! You wouldn’t believe how it’s leaning me out bro” said my colleague. I discussed the science and logic of his statement to the boys so they understood how a pushup can and will effect their core muscles, but that was it. There was no challenge laid down or competition put to me. Just that brief conversation. Then I thought “what would happen if all I did was pushups?” This then turned into bodyweight workouts all together. As usual I did some research and found out many benefits and a few disadvantages to the pushup idea.
The first few days were tough! I could do 20 in a row no problem, 30 if I really pushed myself, but if I tried to do another set or even 2 I was struggling. I struggled so much that the I ended up not doing any pushups for a few days that first week (missed 2). Determined though, I was going to at least average 100 pushups per day for the month, so I dropped down to 10 per set and started banging them out randomly throughout the day. By the end of that first week I noticed my shoulders hurting as well as my wrists. Every muscle in my arms was sore and aching and I wasn’t really all that sure that I was going to follow through on this mission of mine. Everyday I woke up I struggled with the idea but continued to push. I ended the first 7 days with 730 pushups hitting my mark with a little extra.
I would love to tell you that week 2 was smooth sailing, but I would be lying. I was SORE but determined! I wanted to make sure I hit at minimum of my number from the week before. Day 1 of my second week I fell short of my mark with only 80. Day 2 I was so sore I didn’t do any! This meant trouble for me if I was going to hit my goal but thankfully I have a very competitive nature! The next two days I did more pushups than I ever thought I would do in a day and doubling up on my 100 per day goal. I was still sore, but I was feeling it. I related it to the feeling you get at the gym after your first few weeks of lifting. You almost enjoy and embrace the sore muscles because it means you are getting a solid workout in. The second day of my push I was feeling it so much I threw in over 150 body weight squats. Something was clicking and for the first time in a while I was excited to see how far I could push myself with this.
It was around this time I decided to up my reps per set from 10 to 15. It was a subtle change, but it was increasing my overall load and quantity. It also made more sense. Now I was pushing to see how many I could do in a day and I was excited to do them. I finished off the week strong hitting over 100 every day. Somedays by a lot and some by a little, but each day I was making sure I did more than my goal. I finished with 950 pushups in week 2 bringing my total to 1,680.
Waking up on Monday’s I check my weight and body fat percentage. Some Monday's (especially when training) I will take a picture to note any change in my appearance due to my training. The Monday that started week 3 though I was really excited! I noticed a substantial change in my body. My mid-section was slimming down and my arms looked great. Now I was hooked! I wanted to crush my new PR from the previous week of 950 and I wanted to see just what pushups could really do for me.
Like the week before I had 2 days over 200 and another I ended at 190, but I started noticing a pain in my wrist that was sticking with me throughout the course of the day and not just when doing my pushups. I bite through the pain and kept pushing myself and by day 6 of week 3 I had already achieved 960 total for the week! I went to bed that night confident in my abilities. With a busy day and a lot of driving ahead of me to finish off week 3 I knew that I would have to squeeze in my pushups in the morning and evening, but with already eclipsing my goal for the week everything I did was just a cherry on top! Then I woke up…
My wrist was in so much pain that I couldn’t move it without wincing. I had built my daughters new bunk bed the night before and had struggled with the pain, but figured it would subside. Instead it intensified. I hoped that it would dissipate a bit before our 2 plus our venture to see my parents and I could get a few quick sets in, but it didn’t take long to determine that pushups in the morning were not in the cards!
I wrapped my wrist up the best I could, popped a few ibuprofen and set off on our ride. I hoped that by the time we got home that night I would be ok enough to get at least a few sets in. Disregarding the fact that it would be 10 hours until I got to that point, 4 and a half of which would be on the mind numbing drive across New York known as the I-90, I was fairly confident in my determination.
The entire day was spent stretching and pushing my thumb to try to get rid of the pain, but nothing I did was helping. All day long I felt like I had one hand, which makes a trip to Niagara Falls quite difficult with a 4 year old running around and then getting tired out. Carrying my princess became a painful reminder that I had pushed myself more than normal. I knew this could be an issue, but I had my mind set and disregarded warnings I found online.
By the time we got home there was no doubt in my mind, I was not going to do a single pushup that day. I was disappointed that I was unable to achieve a “perfect week” 3 weeks into this self challenge, but somewhat satisfied that I beat my goal from last week. But then the little voice in my head creeped in… “Did you really BEAT last week? 10 pushups? That’s what you call beating last week?” I know logically that a win is a win and it takes small victories sometimes to add up to massive successes, but man I was beating myself up. Week 4 needed to be better!
Week 3 ended with 960 pushups brining my total to 2,640. It dawned on me that I was well over my pace to do 100 pushups a day for a month and the thought of taking it easy had dawned on me, but I soon shattered that idea! Day 1 I took it easy and squeezed in 100 with my wrist still wrapped. It was hurting a little, but not debilitating like it had the day before. I made a determination that I was shooting for 1,000 pushups for the week this week and nothing was going to stop me, and day 2 of week 4 proved me right!
Before I left for work on day 2 I had already busted out 100 pushups. I told myself that every time I left my chair at work I would do a set (10-15) before I sat back down. This was a nice thought, but man it is difficult with how many times I am up and moving in my day. I will say however I did do this whenever I did not have something else immediately pressing. I also pulled off a solid chunk when I got home that night, even getting out of bed a few times after my daughter went down to get another few sets in. I finished the day with a new daily PR at 340 pushups in a single day! I was stoked. My wrist wasn’t hurting and I was ready for day 3 of the week to see what I could accomplish.
At this point I want to take a moment to mention something about the “diet” I am on, or rather that I am not. Currently in my training and my life I am not counting calories or macros. I am not really avoiding carbs or even some “bad foods”. I have created a lifestyle that does not involve much junk at all if I am being honest. My daughter often jokes with me that “Mommy has the best candy and daddy has the best fruits”. I also did not change anything in my diet really while doing this challenge. I still ate a lot of seeds, veggies and fruit. I do not shy away from meats, but do not eat them every day, and have had several styles of pizza throughout the month (If I do not eat a different pizza on game day my Buffalo Bills might not win). This will change next month as my training will change, but for October it was just eating what I wanted, when I wanted. I am just happy that I wanted healthier type stuff.
For those that know me, I usually run quite a bit. This was not the case for the month of October. I actually ran substantially less! Instead of my typical 30-40 miles per week like I was doing over the summer I was running between 10 and 15 throughout the month. So the only reason for any changes in my body and appearance that have taken place throughout the month of October is directly due to the fact of simply doing pushups! Towards the end of the month I noticed the impact this would have and my legs felt much weaker when I would try to do my longer runs, fortunately I did not lose much speed!
I would end my final week of pushups averaging 165 per day. Towards the end of the week I began getting a sharper pain in my left shoulder and figured I should slow it down a bit. I would only do my minimum of 100 per day for the final 3 days rather than pushing myself to destroy the previous week. I would boast my biggest week however and put up 1,155 pushups total for the week making it my strongest week yet!
What I Have Learned
The thought of doing 100 pushups a day for an entire month is a bit hard to grasp in the front end. Sure it seems doable, but when you have not been doing pushups regularly the first few days are tough! Much like many other endurance style activities or longer duration challenges, this was as much mental as it was physical. I do have to admit, I did not do pushups every day! As I stated above there were days of injury and life that prevented me from accomplishing this goal, but finishing the month with 3,795 total pushups I made sure to average the 100 per day and accomplish my mission.
The effects on the body were impressive! As you can see from the pictures I have added in this post, doing only pushups with minimal cardio has really leaned me down! It was not just the arms, but my midsection that had the biggest change. I can only say this has to be from the plank style pose of the pushup form. Knowing that doing all these pushups every day has had an impact on my shoulder I will not be continuing with them every day, but I will continue to plank every day now since that will not have an impact on my shoulder (no rotation in any way) and still help me to keep my midsection where it is if not improve it!
Since I have always wanted to be the more lean and muscular type rather than the guy with massive muscles, I am quickly becoming an advocate more so of body weight workouts. As soon as this blog is posted I will be working on the designs for my new training regimen that involves more running, biking, and yes body weight strength training! It is undeniable that this was effective with no real change to my diet. When I take my training more seriously and focus more on my dietary needs I can’t imagine what will happen. I will make sure to track my stats a bit more closely for the month of November and what types of workouts I am doing and fill you all in once the month is over!
I have had a few struggles with injury as I have stated. Mainly my shoulder and wrist. This is because of repetition and repetition only. This is why you rarely see anyone (never anyone serious) doing only one workout everyday, or the same routine everyday at the gym. As much fun as I had with this I will encourage anyone that is doing this to at least alternate days and maybe do 100 pushups and 100 squats. This way you are spreading the love to multiple parts of your body and hopefully avoiding the injuries associated with repetition.
I hope you all enjoyed this experiment and the lessons I have learned. Stay tuned next week for the next part in my series “Finding the Right Training Program” where I will be focusing on diet. Until then, keep pushing yourself!