When my friend Becky posed the challenge to our Goals group for doing 10 push-ups and 50 sit-ups every day during April, I quickly exclaimed, “I’m in!” As our other friends started to chime in, it quickly became apparent that we were all coming from different backgrounds, from regular exerciser to infrequent exerciser to not being able to do a single push-up.
We’re all doing the same challenge, but with different goals and for different reasons. And that’s okay.
I strain to move barbells that my husband Jesse picks up with one hand. My friend Josh can bench press me (well, my body weight). But I’m still excited when I added just 5 more pounds to do my 40lb bench press, or when I finally did a full 3×12 bicep curl with my new 10lb dumbbells. I may not be the strongest person, but I’m evolving. So I own it!
Set your own goals, and set them for you.
Setting fitness goals
by exercise type
When my friend said she couldn’t do 10 push-ups, I said – “Sure you can!” You may need to start with knee push-ups or wall push-ups, but it seems that every type of movement is based on some simpler movement. Start there.
For me, I cannot do a pull-up. So right now in addition to doing some arm work, I have been getting my muscles used to the movement of pulling vertically. I’m doing chair-assisted pull-ups on two legs, and eventually I’ll graduate to one-leg. Then I’ll try to get some momentum to do a pull-up before I can actually start doing a pull-up without any assistance. The theory is once you get the basic movements down, you can build from there. If you already can do a pull-up, try more advanced movements like wide-grip pull-ups, uneven pull-ups, plyometric pull-ups, and the super-impressive muscle up. But first, chair-assisted. Crawl before you 5k.
I already know how to do bodyweight squats. In fact, I really enjoy doing squats. My lower-half is stronger than my upper-half, so it feels good to succeed at something and feel its effects. Do I squat often? Not at all. This is an area where I can set a goal. Perhaps for me, it would make sense to do squats every other day. I could set a number goal, or I won’t; the goal here is to make it part of my routine. Another similar goal is to walk every day during lunch. Some days are busier than others and perhaps instead of walking for a full hour, you only have time to walk around the building a couple times. It still counts, because you’re keeping to your schedule.
This category could mean “Are you sweating?” or “You can push it for two more reps/sets!” I may be walking around the block after work, but I could set a goal to jog it instead, or alternate intervals of walking and sprinting. Last week I was bench-pressing 30-35 pounds, but recently I added 5 more. It felt so good that I added just one more set of five reps just so I can prove to myself that I can do it! Find a way to put more effort into the activity that makes sense for you and your workout.
by adding something different!
For this challenge, I know that I can do 50 crunches and 10 pushups (albeit in 2 sets), and initially I’ll be working towards making it all in one set. But I’m thinking that I want to add more to the challenge. the 50/10 is a baseline, but that I
Can’t do a push-up? Try doing a wall push up. Got that down? Try a knee push-up. After that, you could do an incline push up or go straight to good old-fashioned push-ups!
You can do a push-up, but you want to do more? There’s a way you can do that incrementally too. You can also do incremental improvements for sit-ups.
The 100 push-ups program and the 200 sit-ups program are both six-week training programs to get you to where you are to your goal. You begin with an initial test to see where to start the program, then it walks you through a chart of activity and rest to slowly train your body.
Challenge to You
Join me and my friends as we attempt 10 push-ups and 50 sit-ups every day in April (in whatever way makes sense for where we are fitness-wise)!