The push-up is the all-American exercise. Too bad most Americans would have a hard time cranking out a single repetition, let alone the number they should be able to do for their age.

It’s time to start re-gaining your upper-body strength. And in a challenge I put together for Men’s Health Magazine last summer, I set the bar very high. Here, for example, are the numbers I gave for men under the age of 45 to determine their level of fitness:

  • Able to do less than 20 push-ups = out of shape
  • Able to do 20-34 push-ups = average
  • Able to do 35-49 push-ups = fit
  • Able to do more than 50 push-ups = “Men’s Health” fit

(For a woman, cut the number of repetitions by 60 percent. So, to get an “average” fitness score, a woman under the age of 45 would need to be able to do at least 12 push-ups.)

If you are a beginner, start with kneeling push-ups to build strength. Do one set of 5-10 reps today, and add one set every other day until you are able to do three sets of 10 kneeling push-ups.

Once you are able to do that, you’ll be ready for the next level: lowering yourself to the ground for a 3-count, then relaxing onto your knees and getting back up to the start position. Work your way up to 8 repetitions… and then you’ll be ready to do full push-ups.

If you’re already doing full push-ups, here’s how to improve your fitness score: Start by doing half the number of repetitions you can do, rest 30 seconds, repeat that same number of push-ups, rest 30 seconds again, and then repeat the push-ups. Do this two or three times per week, decreasing the rest period by 10 seconds each week. Retest your max after three weeks.

[Ed. Note: Fitness expert Craig Ballantyne is the creator of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss system. For a free online source of information, motivation, and social support to help you improve your health, lose weight, and get fit, sign up for ETR’s free natural health e-letter.]

Craig Ballantyne

If you want to double your income, work less, and become the ambitious millionaire you've always wanted to be... Craig Ballantyne is the coach who will help you do it. With more than 20-years of experience as an entrepreneur and five 7-figure businesses under his belt, he specializes in helping "struckling" entrepreneurs get out of the mud and build the business of their dreams. To see if you qualify for Craig's "Millionaire Coaching Program" send an email to support@earlytorise.com with the subject line "Millionaire".