1 Use the Push-up to Test Your Strength and Power
Performing 50 push-ups in a minute is a classic fitness benchmark. “But you rarely see guys do even one rep with perfect form,” says Rob Shaul, founder of the Strong Swift Durable training facility. “So whenever a guy tells me he can do 50 in a minute, I tell him to do it with the dead-stop push-up, where you lower yourself to the ground and lift your hands.” That pause eliminates help from the stretch reflex – the tendency of a muscle to spring back to a shortened state when stretched – and forces you to move through a full range of motion. The result? No cheating. “It’s a true test of strength,” says Shaul. Read on to test yours, then follow Shaul’s plan to increase it.
Dead-Stop Push-up Test
Assume a push-up position with your feet together, your body straight and your hands below but slightly wider than your shoulders, as shown here. Lower your body to the floor. Lift your hands off the floor, pause, then place them back on the floor and push up explosively. Do as many as you can in 60 seconds. Twenty is average; 30 is exceptional.
Boost Your Strength
Add the dead-stop push-up to three of your weekly workouts. Do five sets, using the chart below to guide your reps. Retest yourself after four weeks. Repeat the four-week cycle until you reach your goal: 30 perfect reps.
WEEK 1 40% OF YOUR TEST NUMBER
WEEK 2 40% OF YOUR TEST NUMBER
WEEK 3 50% OF YOUR TEST NUMBER
WEEK 4 60% OF YOUR TEST NUMBER
2 Transform the Push-up into a Total-Body Workout
If you see the push-up as only an exercise, you’re not realising its full potential. “By combining different variations, you create a workout you can do anywhere,” says Martin Rooney, founder of Training for Warriors. See for yourself with his push-up pyramid.
DIRECTIONS Start at the base of the pyramid on the bottom left. As you work your way up one side and down the other, perform the number of reps indicated in the black circle for each exercise. (See the descriptions below.) Rest as needed according to your fitness level.
BEGINNER: Between each exercise.
INTERMEDIATE: at the top (between sets of knee-to-elbow push-ups).
ADVANCED: at the end; repeat.
6 KNEE-TO-ELBOW KNEE-TO-ELBOW 6
7 CLAPPING CLAPPING 7
8 KNEE-TO-CHEST KNEE-TO-CHEST 8
9 DIVE BOMB DIVE BOMB 9
10 SINGLE-LEG (left leg elevated) SINGLE-LEG (right leg elevated) 10
1/ Single-Leg Perform a push-up, but elevate one leg instead of keeping both feet on the floor.
2/ Dive Bomb Start with your hips up, then pull your body forward, lower your hips and straighten your arms.
3/ Knee-to-Chest As you press up, bring a knee towards your chest. Alternate knees with each rep.
4/ Clapping Do a push-up, but press up with enough force to launch off the floor and clap.
5/ Knee-to-Elbow Do a push-up, but touch your knee to your elbow at the bottom. Alternate sides each rep.