The latest Coronavirus or Covid-19 isolation & quarantine has flooded social media with fitness challenges, and crazy challenges.
It also has a lot of personal trainers showing improvised workouts using whatever-you-got, anywhere from water jugs to your 5 year old hanging on your legs doing pull ups!
But people are just moving for movement sake. They do it once or twice, then they stop.
My advice is to take this time of isolation to get fit & healthier. Why? Because (in general) a fitter & healthier person has a better chance to staying healthy, avoiding sickness, and recovering from sickness should you get sick. Chances are, the last 5 years of your life will be spent in sickness or disease.
You need a goal. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
That’s why I like what I call the “Fireman push up test”. To me, the sole purpose is using the push-up test to correlate physical fitness & exercise capacity. I’ve used VO2Max tests in the past, for example, stationary bike or treadmills with increasing loads every X minutes. But now we’re stuck at home with no access to our gym.
If you suck at doing push-ups, then having some sort of exercise routine will help you get better.
That’s where goal setting comes in.
I think a total of 100 pushups every other day is sufficient. (I mean, how strong is strong?) And while you’re at it, throw in some squats and ab/core exercises, too.
Part 1: The Test
The test is quite simple, you need a metronome (use an App, or on-line MP3 player below) and set it for 80 beats per minute. Down counts as one, Up counts as one. Once you miss 3 off-beat, the test is over, or when you collapse.
So you are trying to do 40 pushups in 60 seconds with strict timing of going up and down (as opposed to the PRMC test of 60 in 120 sec – slightly slower cadence, only counting the start of each pushup, and allowing a few inches of ground contact with a closed fist).
You can download a Metronome app easily from your App Store. I use Metronome for Android, or use this handy player:
This was a 10 year study, and they found firefighters who were able to perform at least 40 push-ups at that cadence had a 96-percent lower chance of developing heart disease over 10 years, compared to those who could only complete 10 or less.
Here are the results of 1104 firemen tested. What can you do?
Part 2: How to Train for 40 Pushups in 60 seconds
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is doing 40 pushups.
Here is what I did, every second day, to prevent injuries, during this crazy coronavirus lockdown, when I started March 2020:
- 2 x 10 pushups
- 3 x 10
- 4 x 10
- 5 x 10
- 6 x 10
- 7 x 10
- 8 x 10
- 9 x 10
- 10 x 10
- 9 x 11
- 8 x 12
- 7 x 13
- 7 x 14
- 6 x 15 (plus 10 as a warm up, to make 100)
- 6 x 16
- 6 x 17
- 5 x 18 (plus 10 as a warm up, to make 100)
- 5 x 19
- 5 x 20
- eventually 4 x 25
There is ANOTHER way, called “Greasing the Groove”, which is a future article (or you can google it).
Part 3: I Can Do 40 Pushups in 1 Minute: Now What?
There are literally hundreds of options here for Push Ups variations.
- Hands in front or behind
- Hands wider or narrow
- Feet elevated, or on knees. If you are curious how much weight is added if you raise your feet on a bench, read this old article.
- Hands using grips or on small blocks (to use chest)
- Add Stability component, with Swiss ball on your feet, Bosu Ball on your feet, or even your arms (there are handles you can grab)
- Add a weight belt, a weight vest, a 20Kg plate, or your toddler/child/friend lying on your back! (I have a 20Kg/44lb weight vest with 44 individual 1lb sandbag sacs)
So Hang in there, the Covid life will hopefully resume back to normal. One day. But what is normal?