How many push-ups can you do?

A few years ago Jack’s cousin, Ruth shared with me the benefits of push-ups. The thought of falling and breaking my wrist or not being able to lift myself up off the ground in my old age because I don’t have the strength scared me. I guess not enough for me to keep doing push-ups back then. 

I started this push-up workout about a month ago.  I guess I am attracted to challenges (Project 365 and now ).    Each workout takes just a few minutes and only three times a week.   The website has workouts based on your ability. My inspiration came from Jack’s cousin, Jessie. If you like you can peak at Jessie’s blog:

During my initial test I could only do five!  By the end of my second day of my workouts  I was able to do six, consecutively!  Four weeks into this program I am able to do fourteen consecutive push-ups (after 12 work-outs).

Have you heard about the benefits of push-ups as we age?

After reading part of this article that I cut and pasted below, that is if I haven’t bored you already, maybe you would like to join in the fun?

In a 2001 study, researchers at East Carolina University administered push-up tests to about 70 students ages 10 to 13. Almost half the boys and three-quarters of the girls didn’t pass.
Push-ups are important for older people, too. The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigors of aging.

Researchers who study the biomechanics of aging, for instance, note that push-ups can provide the strength and muscle memory to reach out and break a fall. When people fall forward, they typically reach out to catch themselves, ending in a move that mimics the push-up. The hands hit the ground, the wrists and arms absorb much of the impact, and the elbows bend slightly to reduce the force.

In studies of falling, researchers have shown that the wrist alone is subjected to an impact force equal to about one body weight, says James Ashton-Miller, director of the biomechanics research laboratory at the University of Michigan.

“What so many people really need to do is develop enough strength so they can break a fall safely without hitting their head on the ground,” Dr. Ashton-Miller said. “If you can’t do a single push-up, it’s going to be difficult to resist that kind of loading on your wrists in a fall.”

And people who can’t do a push-up may not be able to help themselves up if they do fall.

“To get up, you’ve got to have upper-body strength,” said Peter M. McGinnis, professor of kinesiology at State University of New York College at Cortland who consults on pole-vaulting biomechanics for U.S.A. Track and Field, the national governing body for track.

Natural aging causes nerves to die off and muscles to weaken. People lose as much as 30 percent of their strength between 20 and 70. But regular exercise enlarges muscle fibers and can stave off the decline by increasing the strength of the muscle you have left.

Women are at a particular disadvantage because they start off with about 20 percent less muscle than men. Many women bend their knees to lower the amount of weight they must support. And while anybody can do a push-up, the exercise has typically been part of the male fitness culture. “It’s sort of a gender-specific symbol of vitality,” said R. Scott Kretchmar, a professor of exercise and sports science at Penn State. “I don’t see women saying: ‘I’m in good health. Watch me drop down and do some push-ups.’ ”

Based on national averages, a 40-year-old woman should be able to do 16 push-ups and a man the same age should be able to do 27. By the age of 60, those numbers drop to 17 for men and 6 for women. Those numbers are just slightly less than what is required of Army soldiers who are subjected to regular push-up tests.

If the floor-based push-up is too difficult, start by leaning against a countertop at a 45-degree angle and pressing up and down. Eventually move to stairs and then the floor.

Are you still with me?  Anyone want to start doing push-ups?


9 responses

  1. Hey Jenny!
    I started doing the 100 push-up challenge when Jessie posted it on her blog about a month ago. I started at about 11 and I’m up to 24 consecutive. Not bad in 1 month! It really is amazing how fast it builds.

  2. I just did 8 push-ups with my knees bent, and weight on one knee…..ok, I am in with my “challenged method” it still should help!! thanks, Jen……Love you! Wishing You wellness very soon!

  3. Pingback: How’s the Push Ups? « Behind the Willows

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  5. Pingback: Week 24 – June 11 – 17, 2012 | Life with three boys!

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