Homer's Travels: Exercise: Phase I - One Hundred Pushups

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Exercise: Phase I - One Hundred Pushups

Back in 2008 I started doing push-ups.  I was following a program that, if successful, would have me doing 100 push-ups in about six weeks.  I said that I started doing it.  Actually I started twice and failed twice.  I made it to sixty push-ups but I went no further.  Failing twice was enough.  Last year, after accomplishing something I'd never thought I could before, (the Camino, of course), I decided to try again and it became Phase I of my exercise program.

After I returned from the Camino and our Route 66 vacation I restarted the push-up program again.   I hoped that three years would have changed me.  Instead of using the Hundred Push-up program, I decided to build my own plan.  I figured I understood how I was motivated and discouraged better than some anonymous website.  In the past I would always start out too aggressive and over do it on the first day, feel all sore the next day, become discouraged, and quit.  I needed exercise portion control.   With this in mind, I started with one push-up.

Yep ... you read that right.  I did one - 1 - uno - push-up.  The next day I did two.  The day after that I did three.  I did none on the weekends, giving myself some rest.  When I got to five I started dividing the push-ups into sets with thirty seconds to a minute between sets.  I kept it up until I got to twenty-four.  Some of the muscles in my arms started to ache a little.  I changed my program a bit .  I played around with the rest days to allow my muscles to heal and get used to the effort.  (The muscle pain is caused by micro-tears in the muscle tissue and the muscle becomes larger as the tears heal.)  Finally, around forty push-ups, I settled on daily increases for a week and then maintain that level for a week to allow my body to adjust.  I changed it up one more time when I reach seventy-five.  The muscle soreness was increasing and lasting longer so I stopped doing push-ups on Wednesdays.  I would go up by two on Monday and by one on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I also increased the rest time between sets from one-two minutes up to a full three minutes.

I was able to maintain this from seventy-five until last Friday when I did one hundred (five sets of twenty).  It felt good and my muscles felt pretty good.  It took more than six weeks.  I'd reached my goal in 249 days or around thirty-five weeks.  I'd missed doing my push-ups on only one day (The day after Thanksgiving) - this may be a bigger accomplishment than actually reaching one hundred.  Now I have decide what to do now.

My current plan is to maintain one hundred push-ups but cut back to three days a week (M-W-F).  Eventually I may start going up some more by adding more sets.  We'll see.  I want to start Phase III on Tuesdays and Thursdays ... once I figure out what Phase III is.

At one point Phase III was going to be sit-ups but I have since read that sit-ups can be hard on the lower back and will irritate lower back pain.  The last thing I want to do is cause my back pain to get worse.  I will probably talk to my physical therapist about exercises specifically aimed at strengthening the lower back.

Now, at the risk of sounding vain, I have to admit that my upper body is starting to look more toned than it's ever been.  Combined with some of the tightening of some areas by my physical therapy exercises and I'm starting to look like a ... well, I look like a healthy 48 year old guy.  That's an improvement and I have to admit this is improving my self-image just like the Camino improved my self-confidence.

So the exercising program I've put myself on has helped my image and confidence which are components of mood and mood is an important part of my ultimate goal of optimism.  I still have a ways to go ... but I'm making progress and I can't ask for more.


  1. Good for you....good to set goals and finally make them. I usually poop out before reaching a goal.

  2. WOW..congratulation

  3. YAY!!! This is awesome! I'm very happy for you! Will you share the exercises your doctor recommends? I am looking to strengthen my abs and back without causing strain as well!


    1. Thanks Miss McC. I will share in an upcoming post.