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.]