Help! Trying to increase my push-up count?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by coltrane_revival, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. coltrane_revival

    coltrane_revival New Member

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    Hello,

    As background info, I'm an 100-lb 5'3'' female incoming freshman who will be starting Air Force ROTC in about a month.

    I've read a lot on these forums about the difference between a coach's push-up standards and the military's push-up standards. Because I don't want to arrive at my first PT test only to learn my push-up form is incorrect, I asked a family friend (who is part of the cadre at SJSU's AFROTC detachment) to observe my push-ups and sit-ups. My sit-ups were fine (and my runtime is good) but...

    I was doing push-ups incorrectly.

    He taught me the correct form and observed me doing them the right way, and I now know what a proper push-up feels like. However, I can only do 7 consecutively. I know this is bad, but I have a little under a month left to get it together.

    So does anyone have tips on how to best utilize these 4 weeks I have left? I only met with my friend yesterday. This morning I did 3 sets of 7 push-ups and 2 sets of 5 push-ups, and tonight I'll do some push-up pyramids (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). How often should I practice them? Can I do sets/pyramids twice a day, three times a day, or should you only do them once a day? (I'm doing them in a room with a mirror just to double-check my form is perfect.)

    If I can only do 7 now, what number do you think I could reach with four weeks of practice?

    edit: Sorry to make this message even longer, but I asked my question on Yahoo answers, and got this response:

    "Here is a pushup plan that has always worked for me just ONE WEEK before a PT test. Do 200 pushups a day. It doesn't matter how long it takes, or if you have to do the last few on your knees. Do it in sets that you can manage.

    Since you can only do 7, I recommend doing 5 pushups 40 times through the day. You have 24 hours, and you're only going to do 5 pushups at a time. Try to do them using perfect form, but eventually your muscles will fail and at this point it is ok to drop to your knees and continue pushing. Muscle failure can work in your favor.

    You can do this every other day so that your muscles have some time to heal before being torn again.
    Source(s):
    Active Duty USAF Security Forces"

    Can anyone verify that this is a safe push-up plan?
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  2. newhampshirecandidate

    newhampshirecandidate Member

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    I don't know about whether that would work or not, and take my advice with a grain of salt (I am also an incoming freshman) but I started doing the Armstrong Pullup Program. Part of the program, in addition to 5 days a week of pullups, is 3 max sets of pushups, typically done right when you wake up. I've been on the plan for about 2 weeks and at first, my 3 set average was about 50-55, now I'm up around 75-85 per set. It might be worth trying to do a few max sets like these every day to help your pushups increase.
    As for the muscle failure, I've found that if I do my pushups every morning when I wake up (between 6-7 AM) my muscles are fresh the next day. It would also help to consume high protein and good carbs to help yourself recover faster so that you get the most out of every workout. Out of curiosity (I'm AROTC) what is the AFROTC pushup standard for women?
     
  3. shooter

    shooter Member

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    I'm trying to increase my push-ups, too, so I'm no expert.

    As far as preparation goes, you could try lifting weights, too. You could do different types of push-ups as well.

    Technique can also make a big difference. Wider is usually easier for me. When your hands are farther in you work your triceps more. One of my neighbors who trains people (and looks like Chuck Norris) suggested that I keep my hands slightly forward, wider, and a little turned in. Then, you rock a little on your feet back and forth as you go up and down. It is supposed to work a larger group of muscles and be easier to get to 90 degrees. I'm not sure this technique is any easier for me, but you could try it.

    For the actual test day, you might try doing a couple, resting, and then doing a couple more since you have a whole minute. I seem to be able to do more that way as compared to doing a ton all at once.

    Like I said, I'm experimenting with this, too, but I thought I'd share what I've learned.
     
  4. Non Ducor Duco

    Non Ducor Duco I am not led, I lead

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    Can't help with the original question, but I'm pretty sure that the push up standard the same across the board for men, women, and branch. People either have their elbows go out away from their body or keep them tucked to their side when going down (though, there are plenty of exceptions). From what I've seen, men tend to favor keeping the elbows in, while women tend to favor going wide. Each style works different muscles. Idk if one is harder than the other, it feels like the style with elbows tucked in is harder, but I think that this is because the muscles used there are less developed than the ones used in pushups where the arms go wide. It can also go the other way. Just pick the one that works best for you
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  5. newhampshirecandidate

    newhampshirecandidate Member

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    Sorry, I was unclear. By "pushup standard" I meant how many do you have to do and in what time, not "what qualifies as a pushup."
     
  6. bsherman92

    bsherman92 Member

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    I posted the below text before. This is the best advice I can give you. Hope this helps.


    Arm width makes a noticeable difference. Emphasis is placed on different shoulder/pectoral/tricep muscles depending on the width of separation. To illustrate this, notice the different fatigue felt in performing diamond push-ups vs. wide-arm length push-ups vs. shoulder-width push-ups. The rarest form is to place the arms low, nearly hugging the sides of your stomach. This is most common for those who regularly bench press or do other calisthenics/weight training for developing tricep muscles.

    Notice one of the criteria in the APFT manual: "You may reposition your hands and/or feet during the event as long as they remain in contact with the ground at all times." This does not mean you may raise any of your arms off the floor at any time - this results in automatic termination. However, it does mean you may "shimmy" your hands across the floor to reposition your arms.

    Here are some tips:
    - As you feel the fatigue setting in from one set arm distance, shimmy your arms further apart to slightly increase the number of reps. Generally, it's optimal to go from close-in/shoulder-width apart to wide-arm push-ups.
    - Proper breathing. It should ideally be rhythmic: inhale as you go down, exhale as you go up.
    - A common saying to ensure you're performing the correct form: "Break the plane." The APFT manual specifies that your arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle with the rigid line of your back. This is technically true, but if you're faced with a particularly strict grader, you want to ensure you "break the plane;" that is, the entire unit of your central body surpasses the 90 degree bend of your arms. Your chest should nearly graze the grass.
    - Face forward, chin up, with your head lifted up the entire time. This is optimal push-up form for breathing and a good viewpoint for knowing when you've broken the plane. As you feel more fatigue with each rep, you will be tempted to look straight down at the ground, which is alright once you can no longer take it, but try your best to face forward at all times
    - Use gravity. Exert no effort in lowering yourself. Only exert strength in lowering yourself to stop yourself from touching the floor. This is the same principle in many calisthenic exercises, including the sit-up. When going down from the up position, the person should exert no effort in dropping to the floor.
    - Probably the most important of all: position your arms in the ready position directly beneath your chest (perhaps even slightly lower). This gives you maximum pushing power from your arms. Notice that in basketball, the strongest and fastest pass is a chest pass; that is, thrusting the ball away from your body at chest/upper stomach level. This is the same principle with push-ups. Many beginners or those unfamiliar with the push-up tend to place their arm slightly above the height of the shoulders, making them push at an angle. This not only limits the number of reps but makes it seem like you're doing a 90 degree arm bend when you're really not.

    The best push-up workout, and the most intense that I know of, is the Push-Up Push Workout from none other than Stew Smith. Given the 4 weeks, the push-up push is the best one to maximize you, for now. Another is from a real PT stud from the National Guard, SSG Ken Weichert, from the following video:

    The Push-Up Push: http://www.military.com/Opinions/0,,Smith_082405,00.html
    SSG Ken Weichert, ARNG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X72LtRcXR6g

    Notice each branch of the military has slightly different standards and rules. The Army tests for 2 minutes, the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard for 1 minute, and the Marines exclude the push-up from the PFT. The Army and Air Force authorize the resting position where you can sag the back or extend your buttocks out, while the Navy's only rest position is the front-leaning ready position (pretty much means there IS no rest position). Best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  7. Non Ducor Duco

    Non Ducor Duco I am not led, I lead

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    Ah, in that case, the max is 42 in a minute for females. They don't usually post minimums, but I believe VT's site says 28 is the cut off, don't quote me though.
     
  8. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    They do post minimums on the PFT's, just not on the one you took when applying for a scholarship. It's all available online, too.
     
  9. coltrane_revival

    coltrane_revival New Member

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    Thanks for all of your responses! Those are great tips, bsherman92, thank you. So just to be clear -- wide-armed push-ups are still correct as long as you break the plane?
     
  10. bsherman92

    bsherman92 Member

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    Yes indeed. Don't underestimate the break the plane rule; there are some very strict graders out there, typically the very senior NCOs and officers who volunteer to grade. You don't have to make it too complicated. Simply find an arm position that is comfortable to you. Most commonly, shoulder-width apart is favored; it's not too far apart, and not too closed-in to depend entirely on your triceps. I would place more emphasis on the other points, especially the last two. You save a lot of energy when you're using gravity to your advantage, especially in calisthenic exercises like sit-ups and push-ups. The last point is equally important: make sure you do not push at an angle. Your hands, whether wide-hand or shoulder-length, should be directly at chest level, maybe even slightly lower. You are wasting much of your energy if you're not pushing perpendicular to your chest. Best of luck!
     

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