One of my friends has an annual Black Friday party called the Night of Many Wines. He provides some bottles, guest bring some bottles–beer, wine, bourbon … In the past, I have referred to this particular event as the Day of Many Hangovers. Maybe I’m getting wiser and not just older, because for some reason I only had one glass this year. Yet unbeknownst to me more than booze was brewing at the party.
The next day my boyfriend casually asked if I wanted to join him (a Body Pump instructor) and our friend Pedro (an elite cyclist) in the December Pushup Challenge they had devised the night before. I have to admit, I hesitated a bit when he revealed their goal of 5000 pushups in 31 days (approximately 161 a day). But maybe I was just feeling smug for exercising restraint the night before, because I said yes.
December 1 went well. Sundays I teach a 9 am class called Power Pump. The participants are enthusiastic, dedicated, and really strong, so I usually incorporate push ups into the class. We did 48 in 4 sets of 12 throughout the class. I threw in a few more before my 10:30 am cycling class, a few more before lunch, and suddenly the count was up to 100–and it wasn’t even noon!
Later in the day, my boyfriend knocked out 140 while watching football and drinking beer (!). At practically the same instance Pedro sent me a text–something about doing “7 sets of 30 in about 10 minutes” after one of his epic rides. Despite feeling like the weakest link in this fitness chain and struggling to push through 100 more (Pedro’s tip: front-loading early will allow for a break later), it was starting to seem like fun. In fact, being part of a team was so inspiring that I started a Facebook group and began inviting people to join. Right about now you’re probably wondering why anyone would make such a crazy commitment during the holidays.
Here’s the lowdown:
- Push ups are a phenomenal compound exercise. They work far more muscles than you might imagine as you can see from the illustration above (click on the image to be taken to an article that explains the benefits and offers several variations on traditional push ups).
- In addition to functional fitness, core stability, and muscular strength, push ups help women build or maintain bone density.
- Push ups do not require any equipment and can be done almost anywhere–case in point: Monday found me sneaking in a quick 20 while waiting for the elevator at my dentist’s office. For convenience alone, they are the perfect exercise for a hectic holiday season.
- Push ups, like most forms of exercise, do get easier over time. In fact, one member of our group posted on day 2 “getting a tiny smidge easier tonight.” By Day 4 she had surpassed her initial daily goal (go Alice!).
Curious? Convinced? Join our December Push Ups Challenge or start your own group. Remember that joining a group brings the added benefits of accountability and support. In our group, people are setting their own personal goals. For some people this means 1000 in a month (33 a day), some feel 10 on the knees will be a serious challenge, and my crazy friend Ron is doing 1500 a day. You can also set a different kind of goal (like 20 in a row by the 31st), which will allow members to start with a comfortable number and build up over the weeks. Of course, you can also keep an eye on our Facebook group, see how we fare over the coming weeks, and propose your own New Year’s Challenge while the champagne is flowing.