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Bodyweight Slow progress on pushups

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Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi,

I started doing pushups in December and had to start with 3 normal pushups and then changed over to knee pushups. I progressed really fast at first, but now seem to require rest days more and more often.

My basics:
Male weighing 140kgs (mostly fat) and 44 years old
I used to do some weight lifting 25 odd years ago and tried again beginning of 2015, but couldn't get squats or deadlifts right with lots of pain in my knees and lower back - so I gave up.

December I decided to do the 100 pushup challenge with the idea of trying weights again after I achieve that.

Starting with 3 normal pushups and some knee pushups in middle of December, I quickly got to 20 pushups in a single set by end of January, but I'd have to rest for 3 days between workouts. I get impatient and would far prefer doing pushups every day, so I tried the Grease The Groove (GTG) method by doing 4 sets of 10 pushups spread throughout the day and increasing that by 1 pushup per set every day. The idea with the GTG method is that you don't fatigue your muscles, but I keep on getting more and more tired / sore (both my chest and my abs) or after 2-3 days I'd have to rest. Got up to 13 reps on the 4 sets, but couldn't do 3 x 14 the next day. Rested for 2 days and tried 15, but couldn't do the full second set. Rested again and did 16 yesterday (just one set) and 17 today (also just one set) and again I can feel my chest getting more and more fatigued... from just a single set per day !!!

Am I just too old to expect the gains I was hoping for? I know I could do 20 in a single set in January, so didn't expect 16 and 17 per set to cumulatively fatigue me like this.
Maybe my diet? I am also trying this intermittent fasting by only eating between 11am and 7pm every day. Not losing weight from it, so I'm not starving myself, but I'm also not getting any protein in anywhere close to the time I do the pushups (now 7am for the single set). Didn't think diet would be too important on a single-set workout.

Any advice would be appreciated. I don't mind if it takes a long time to get to do 100 pushups considering how out of shape I am, but I do want to see some progress I guess.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
+1 to what @Steve Freides said.

You may also be pushing the pushups to far, too soon. At 140 kg, a pushup is like doing a 80-90 kg (ish) bench press with maximum full body tension. That's a difficult thing to do a lot of. You're not a weak man...
 

kodo kb

Level 6 Valued Member
My basics:
Male weighing 140kgs (mostly fat) and 44 years old
I used to do some weight lifting 25 odd years ago and tried again beginning of 2015, but couldn't get squats or deadlifts right with lots of pain in my knees and lower back - so I gave up....

The idea with the GTG method is that you don't fatigue your muscles, but I keep on getting more and more tired / sore (both my chest and my abs) or after 2-3 days I'd have to rest...

Am I just too old to expect the gains I was hoping for? I know I could do 20 in a single set in January, so didn't expect 16 and 17 per set to cumulatively fatigue me like this....

Maybe my diet? I am also trying this intermittent fasting by only eating between 11am and 7pm every day. Not losing weight from it, so I'm not starving myself, but I'm also not getting any protein in anywhere close to the time I do the pushups (now 7am for the single set). Didn't think diet would be too important on a single-set workout.

Any advice would be appreciated. I don't mind if it takes a long time to get to do 100 pushups considering how out of shape I am, but I do want to see some progress I guess.

Okay, first, if squats and deadlifts are hurting you, I hope your doing some work on those movements so that you can eventually do them without pain. I mean, you shouldn't just give up on those fundamental movements because they hurt now. My advice would be to go to a professional (like a CK-FMS), but there are awesome resources that are less expensive (if you are a cheap and stupid do-it-yourselfer like myself). (Dan John's Intervention or Can You Go? would be great for you.)

As you said, GtG is not supposed to fatigue you, so you are obviously doing something wrong. Is every set of 10 easy? If not, do sets with less reps, and maybe play around with the number of sets. Also, if you're new to GtG you should do 2 days on, 1 day off until for a couple of weeks to get yourself acclimated to daily training.

I haven't seen great research that says you need protein around the time you workout for gains to be made. I've seen some research saying it can help slightly, but nothing to the extent you mention/are worried about.
Also, the IF you're doing does not like good IF too me. 7pm -- 11am = 16hrs, and AFAIK that's towards beginning of the fed-->fasted hormonal changes. If you like the idea of IF, I'd suggest East Stop Eat, or shortening your eating window from 5pm--9pm. (FWIW Eat Stop Eat is much easier for me to commit to and is easier to fit into a "normal" life.)

How's your sleep? It honestly sounds like over-training to me. Maybe cut out the pushups, and just work on mobility stuff for a week, and then try again.

Final piece of advice, read this article: Systematic Education for Lifters

It doesn't sound like your trying to everything at once, and I think you have reasonable goals and it seems you are trying to get in better shape in general, but I think the major ideas discussed in the article will encourage you to find a basic training method that "works", and then you can experiment from there.

EDIT:
Have you read The Naked Warrior? If not, where is your understanding of GtG coming from? Also, have you checked out Pavel's 100 pushup routine?

Final question: are you going for any particular speed or tension level for your pushups, or are you just doing them?
 
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Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
Thanks for the feedback so far guys.

I don't want to change programs at this stage. While I'm sure there are more effective training routines than pushups, I want to go with something that inspires me and at this stage the thought of doing 100 pushups inspires me, far off as that goal might be at the moment.

kodo kb:

Yes, I did go to a few sessions with a physiotherapist who specializes in sports movements last year when I was doing the weight training. I happen to have Asperger's Syndrome and one of my related problems is that following instructions, especially when it involves physical movement, is not that easy for me. I understood what he was saying, but couldn't tell whether I was applying what he said to my own movements or not.
My intention is not to give up on it all together. In fact, I only read about GtG recently, but thing that might just be what I need - regular, easy repetitions of those movements until they feel right. So at some point I will go back to that and might do some videos of myself and ask for feedback on that.

I read about GtG on www.100pushups.com and then watched a few youtube videos about it. Haven't heard about The Naked Warrior, but will check it out.

Sounds like I just have to be a little more patient with the pushups. I'll continue adding 1 pushup to the single set per day until I can't add anymore and then I'll take a break and then go back to more sets with less reps. A lot of these 100 pushup websites talk about achieving it in 6-7 weeks, but I think it's going to take me 7+ months to get there.

I'll have a look at Eat Stop Eat. Only been at this IF for a week or so and honestly I find even waiting till 11am pretty difficult. Hoping I'll get used to it.
Lots of homework from you :) When I get a chance I'll look into Systematic Education for Lifters as well.

>>Final question: are you going for any particular speed or tension level for your pushups, or are you just doing them?

Just doing them for now.
 

mrdave100

Level 5 Valued Member
[QUOTE="Dirk,]
......so I tried the Grease The Groove (GTG) method by doing 4 sets of 10 pushups spread throughout the day and increasing that by 1 pushup per set every day. [/QUOTE]

I've searched the WWW and gathered just about everything Pavel has written on the subject and this is not GTG. GTG would be doing 4-7 (it can be more, but the point is to train as often as possible while remaining as fresh as possible) sets of 10 spread throughout the day for 2 weeks. Rest for 2 days then test yourself. Then take half of your new personal pushup best and start the 2 week cycle over.
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
It's really good and motivating for all of us to have goals- they provide an incentive and encouragement each time we make some progress. Sometimes we attach some "symbol" to the goal, and it becomes emblematic of it, but it's not the real goal. I've seen people do this with marathons, big squats, etc. and lead themselves to major injuries. When I first read the OP, I thought the pushups had become a symbol of your goal, but your real goal was to get healthy, strong, lose weight, and be active. I figured the pushups were the symbol of all that, but I didn't think they'd be the fastest, most efficient way to get there. I agree with the posters above who recommended Simple and Sinister. You could scale that to your current level, and then get a good full body workout using the larger muscles, and develop much more mobility, stability, balance and coordination along the way. However, if you're really tied to the pushups and your shoulders can take the load long term, then you should stick with that- keeping your motivation up and continuing on is the main thing. Good luck & congrats on the progress so far!
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Dirk... There's a really good reason some of folks have been recommending S&S... It works. Amazingly for almost any situation as well.
Keep up the good work
 

kodo kb

Level 6 Valued Member
Sounds like I just have to be a little more patient with the pushups. I'll continue adding 1 pushup to the single set per day until I can't add anymore and then I'll take a break and then go back to more sets with less reps. A lot of these 100 pushup websites talk about achieving it in 6-7 weeks, but I think it's going to take me 7+ months to get there.

>>Final question: are you going for any particular speed or tension level for your pushups, or are you just doing them?

Just doing them for now.

Yes, patience is key. To that effect, I'd suggest rereading mrdave's comment and trying that out instead of your current plan. What you're doing now is not "GtG", in the sense that "GtG" is actually a term coined by Pavel Tsatsouline. It is in the same vein as what Mr. Tsatsouline proscribed, but what makes his routines work so well is the minutia. Working at the same rep range for two weeks, you will find you actually feel fresh (one of the points of GtG) and that you will crush your previous best when the max pushup day comes along. (Also, on that max pushup day, try to leave at least one pushup in the tank. That is, try no to go to complete failure.)

Also, don't worry about whatever the site claimed the time-trajectory is. That's a BS claim to make about all people attempting the routine, mostly used to get more people to try the routine out.

The reason I asked about how you're doing your pushups is because I wanted to make sure you weren't using the high tension techniques (HTTs) that are described in The Naked Warrior for a strength-endurance goal. HTTs are very useful actions to perform when attempting any heavy-esq work, but doing them throughout a long set would be detrimental to your 100 pushups goal. (However, if you do get The Naked Warrior, you can certainly use HTTs to try to get a few extra reps during your max test.)

Keep up the smart and hard work!

P.S. What's your interest in IF?

EDIT:
One of the goals of GtG is to stay fresh! If you commit to what I and mrdave suggests, and feel fatigue coming on slowly, CUT BACK!!! Do not push through it, as that is against the core idea of GtG and counterproductive.
 
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Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
I would recommend you to reduce the number of reps but make the difference up in the number of sets. This should help with the fatigue and soreness. I also wouldn't add a rep every day. Go easy for a couple of weeks with five or six reps a time, all the time, and then test your new max and plan accordingly.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
I want to repeat that more thorough medical and movement examinations are in order here, and any exercise recommendations are, IMHO, premature. I know I'm repeating myself - I don't do it often, and I'm doing here because I think it needs to be done here.

@Brett Jones

@B.Hetzler

-S-
 

Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
I want to repeat that more thorough medical and movement examinations are in order here, and any exercise recommendations are, IMHO, premature. I know I'm repeating myself - I don't do it often, and I'm doing here because I think it needs to be done here.

Hey Steve, I'm not sure what your concern is here? I'm doing pushups, not trying to deadlift 3 times my weight or anything like that. I also don't know why you say that you're repeating yourself because in your first post you didn't mention anything about "thorough medical and movement examinations" or is that what you meant with "Body comp should be job 1."? I thought you meant do exercises that will improve body composition (as in muscle/fat ratio)
 

Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
I've searched the WWW and gathered just about everything Pavel has written on the subject and this is not GTG. GTG would be doing 4-7 (it can be more, but the point is to train as often as possible while remaining as fresh as possible) sets of 10 spread throughout the day for 2 weeks. Rest for 2 days then test yourself. Then take half of your new personal pushup best and start the 2 week cycle over.

Yes, patience is key. To that effect, I'd suggest rereading mrdave's comment and trying that out instead of your current plan. What you're doing now is not "GtG", in the sense that "GtG" is actually a term coined by Pavel Tsatsouline. It is in the same vein as what Mr. Tsatsouline proscribed, but what makes his routines work so well is the minutia. Working at the same rep range for two weeks, you will find you actually feel fresh (one of the points of GtG) and that you will crush your previous best when the max pushup day comes along. (Also, on that max pushup day, try to leave at least one pushup in the tank. That is, try no to go to complete failure.)

EDIT:
One of the goals of GtG is to stay fresh! If you commit to what I and mrdave suggests, and feel fatigue coming on slowly, CUT BACK!!! Do not push through it, as that is against the core idea of GtG and counterproductive.

I would recommend you to reduce the number of reps but make the difference up in the number of sets. This should help with the fatigue and soreness. I also wouldn't add a rep every day. Go easy for a couple of weeks with five or six reps a time, all the time, and then test your new max and plan accordingly.
[/QUOTE]

Thanks guys, I'll take that advice. I think my wrong understanding came from the Foundation Training Plan on this page: The Definitive Guide To Becoming A 100 Pushups Master where they suggest doing up to 10 sets and adding one pushup to every set every day. I should have realized that anyone suggesting up to 10 extra pushups per day is not living in the same reality as me.
I'm going to finish this little sprint that I'm busy with now of 1 set per day and then next week I'll move to GtG as Pavel intended.
 

Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
P.S. What's your interest in IF?

Partly for weight loss and partly for health benefits. My dad passed away from cancer at a young age and both my mom and one of my sisters have had breast cancer, so I think anything I can do to boost my immune system and cell restoration must be worth it.
As for weight loss, I do like the simplicity of a fast. Same with doing pushups I guess, it's no good signing up to the best possible workout or diet in existence if I'm not going to stick to it. I find the simpler the diet or workout routine, the more likely I am to stick to it. For the 7pm to 11am fast it was something like this:
Is it before 11am? Yes, then don't eat.
Is it after 7pm? Yes, then don't eat.
And for pushups set my alarm to 7am, 11am, 3pm and 9pm and when my alarm goes off, do a set of pushups - right here in the office or wherever I am.
Very simple, no excuses.

Thanks for your suggestion of Eat-Stop-Eat. My wife started with IF and I just followed her suggestion of 16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating window. but I've read a little about Eat-Stop-Eat this morning and I'm attempting it today. It's now 11:30am and I'll aim to make it through to 7pm.
 

kodo kb

Level 6 Valued Member
Partly for weight loss and partly for health benefits. My dad passed away from cancer at a young age and both my mom and one of my sisters have had breast cancer, so I think anything I can do to boost my immune system and cell restoration must be worth it.
As for weight loss, I do like the simplicity of a fast. Same with doing pushups I guess, it's no good signing up to the best possible workout or diet in existence if I'm not going to stick to it. I find the simpler the diet or workout routine, the more likely I am to stick to it.

Gotcha. That makes sense to me. As for the non-weight-loss aspects of IF, it seems like going for 20--30 hrs. is the best/easiest way to get those benefits (which is why I made the suggestion to read ESE, as it explains it clearly). I'm happy you're enjoying ESE. Brad Pilon is great about providing citations, and I really appreciate that.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
Hey Steve, I'm not sure what your concern is here? I'm doing pushups, not trying to deadlift 3 times my weight or anything like that. I also don't know why you say that you're repeating yourself because in your first post you didn't mention anything about "thorough medical and movement examinations" or is that what you meant with "Body comp should be job 1."? I thought you meant do exercises that will improve body composition (as in muscle/fat ratio)
Dirk, everything I read in this thread suggests to me that you shouldn't be asking for advice on the Internet. I respectfully withdraw from the conversation.

-S-
 

Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
Dirk, everything I read in this thread suggests to me that you shouldn't be asking for advice on the Internet. I respectfully withdraw from the conversation.

-S-

That's fine Steve, I would have preferred if you told me that in a PM instead of on here which will discourage others from helping me. I'm not going to stop doing pushups because of a vague statement like that, so any advice on doing them better helps. Anyway, I've gotten some good advice already, so guess that's okay.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
@Dirk, I apologize. I was away for a few days, with only my phone for Internet access, and I confused this thread with another one. Given the fact that I read everything on the forum, I'm honestly surprised I haven't messed up in this way before now. I just reread the entire thread.

I'll stand by the advice that weight loss is job #1 for you, and I must caution you that approaching it as a job is what I recommend. I don't mean to be harsh, but this shouldn't be about what you want to do, what you find inspirational, etc., it should be about getting the job done. Your health matters, and exercise is like medicine - do what makes you healthier. You are not doing GTG, and I would not recommend you do pushups at all.

You've asked for advice here and then disagreed with it - that's your perogative, of course, but you don't need any more challenges that losing weight and staying healthy until there's less of you, IMHO.

-S-
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
Dirk, there's a lot of good people on this forum with good experience helping people in your situation. Steve is one of the best; he has a lot of knowledge and you'd do very well to take his advice and seek out more of it. I'm sure it took you a long time to get where you are, and it will take a long time to get to where you want to go- best to just focus on one day at a time and all that and let the long term take care of itself. Have you seen the show the Biggest Loser? That's popular tv, but the worst way to solve these problems. Best thing for you is to find a whole-body exercise that's easy on the body, like Walking, or kettlebell swings or both. Get in a habit of doing some suitable exercise everyday, and one step at a time, get your eating under control. No particular diet program is the "magic bullet" for this long term- but learning how to meet all of your nutritional needs on reasonable intake is essential to losing weight. Pushups are very tough on the shoulders if you're out of shape and joints not gradually toughened over several months, and you're plateauing on them because you're body's telling you "tired of this stress, already...." Make your goal a long lifetime of health, strength, and happiness and then find the best way to pursue that. After you drop the lbs and complete a good general program, you'll be able to drop and give yourself 100 anytime you want!
 

Dirk

Level 1 Valued Member
@Dirk, I apologize. I was away for a few days, with only my phone for Internet access, and I confused this thread with another one. Given the fact that I read everything on the forum, I'm honestly surprised I haven't messed up in this way before now. I just reread the entire thread.
-S-

Thanks Steve, I can well understand how that can happen.

You've asked for advice here and then disagreed with it - that's your perogative, of course

Not sure when I did that either... I asked for advice on doing pushups, people told me I'm doing GtG wrong and I've agreed to change to the way they've suggested.

Thanks guys, I'll take that advice. I think my wrong understanding came from...
I'm going to finish this little sprint that I'm busy with now of 1 set per day and then next week I'll move to GtG as Pavel intended.

You've given some general advice not related to what I asked about and I've decided not to give up on my plan to do *something* to improve my health based on a very cryptic one-liner from you.
Anyway, I do appreciate your advice and you're quite right, weight loss should be my #1 priority. I feel that's a separate discussion to this thread though.
 
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