Push-Up Challenge 2013

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Gym
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To say I was athletic back in high school would have been like accusing Captain Crunch of being a real naval officer.  Needless to say I was never the hugest fan of gym class and, back then, my nemesis was a giant hulk of man named Mr. Tymoszewicz (pronounced: ‘Timo-shav-itz’).  Not that Mr. T, as he was affectionately known, was mean spirited or ill-tempered in any way, mind you (in fact, he was pretty nice), but I did hold him directly responsible for my having my ass handed to me on a silver service tray for 90 minutes a day, every day, over the course of my first two years.

Back then, the benchmark for fitness we abided by was known as the ‘Canada Fitness Test’.  Each day, Mr. T would have us perform sets of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, as well as every other kind of ‘up’ one could possibly conjure as a warm-up to the rest of the day’s torture.  Based on your performance in any one of these tests over the duration of one minute, you would be assessed as having attained either a Gold, Silver or Bronze ranking.  Reflecting back, I’d like to think that participating in these tests was something rather like this:

But, of course, it wasn’t.  In my case, I was lucky to achieve the lowly Brown ranking, for ‘Shitty’.

Personally, I found the whole thing to be grueling, and extremely discouraging.  Seriously, who likes to fail at being able to hold a ‘flexed arm hang’ in front of a class of his peers?  Not this chubby Grade Niner, that’s for sure.  In hindsight, what the intended fitness level being measured by the ‘flexed arm hang’ was I’ll never know.  But as it was, I would literally awake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat envisioning myself suffering through another series of Mr. T’s fitness tests.

The ultimate purpose of these tests, despite the shame factor, was to single out physical weakness or inherent incompetence, and then set goals for them and work on shoring up those weaknesses which, in my case, were many.  I believe Mr. T knew that even from the start, even though it remained painfully oblivious to me at the time.  The funny thing is that I’m doing these same bloody exercises again…willingly even.  Except now, I call them ‘core workouts’ and they have become the backbone of my strength conditioning regimen during my off-season training program.  Who would have thunk it?

I have long ago learned that the key to triathlon is to strengthen the ‘core’.  Yes, I do crunches, planks, lunges, and what have you ad nauseum, sure, but there is one specific exercise that I believe to be best at improving your all round core body strength: the push-up.  Yes, the push-up.  This simple calisthenics exercise works it all: the biceps, triceps, chest, back, shoulders and, low and behold, the sacred ‘core’, or abdominals.  It’s literally the holy grail of the core workout.  Back in Grade Nine, Mr.T made us do sets of your basic, everyday, common man’s ‘Standard’ push-up, as well as sets of the ‘Wide Stance’ push-up (or ‘Break 90’s’) and the even more challenging ‘Diamond’ push-up.  I hated them all with a passion.

But things have changed significantly since those old days of yore, and just to add a new element to my current strength conditioning (because that’s just how I roll), I am adapting a new ‘Push Up Challenge’ this season to keep me motivated.  As of the beginning of this year I am committing to my having completed over 5000 push-ups by my Tour du Lac event (click HERE to make an online donation); that equates to approximately 57 push-ups per day between January 1st and July 7th, 2013.  That’s approximately 56 more push-ups than I could ever do at any given time back in Grade Nine.  Luckily, besides my beloved medicine ball push-ups, not to mention the three I suffered with above, there is no shortage of push-ups to try.  There are incline push-ups, decline push-ups, staggered push-ups, one-legged push-ups, one-armed push-ups, side-to-side push-ups, chest tap push-ups, plyometric push-ups, rotational push-ups, fingertip push-ups, Spiderman push-ups, grasshopper push-ups, crucifix push-ups, Tiger push-ups, Aztec push-ups, Hindu push-ups, the T push-up, the “hands up” push-up, as well push-ups on unstable surfaces like a Boscu or Swiss ball.  Hell, even Jack Lalanne has how own signature push-up.  There are no shortages of ways to beat myself up.

So, over the next coming months I am literally becoming a collector of push-ups.  I’ll do them at home, at the gym, between workouts, heck, I might even drop and crank out a few 360 push-ups in the aisle at Walmart, whatever.  It’s on like Donkey Kong.

Mr. Tymoszewicz would be proud…I hope.

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