Push-Ups – Pump Your Performance In 30 Days

While strong down under, cyclists are notoriously weak in their arms and shoulders - let's fix that with this 30-day push-up challenge.


By Danielle Zickl |

Do you use push-ups as part of your training regimen? Thought not: you’ve ridden multiple days a week for years, and you’ve become pretty strong—you can hold your pace and fly up hills with no problem. But maybe you’ve noticed that your upper body isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be.

Push-ups work your chest, triceps, and shoulders—all-important muscles for holding your position on the bike. But push-ups can be tough even for the fittest among us if you’re not used to doing them regularly.

“Women should be able to do at least 10 push-ups, and men should be able to do about 15 to 20,” says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., owner of the Boston-based training studio CORE.

“Specificity is key,” Gentilcore says. Translation? If you want to get better at push-ups, you need to actually do push-ups.

So with help from Gentilcore, we created a 30-day push-up challenge to help you build that ever-important upper body strength, just in time for the nicer weather to come around again when you’ll be out riding more often. (But until spring really does hit, you probably won’t mind banging out an upper body workout in the gym where it’s warm.)

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With this plan, “the number of push-ups you can do will go up because you’re doing high-volume, high-quality reps in short spurts,” he says. And even if you can do more than Gentilcore’s suggested a base number of push-ups, getting stronger and being able to do more definitely won’t hurt your performance on the bike.

How to do this challenge: Review the exercises below, demonstrated by Amanda Butler, NASM-certified trainer for Aaptiv and creator of The Butler Method on NeoU Fitness. Perform Workout 1 on day one, Workout 2 on day two, Workout 3 on day three, so on and so forth. Once you finish Workout 5 on day five, start back at the beginning. Cycle through Workouts 1 through 5 every day for 30 days straight. Swipe the arrow to the left to see the second exercise in each workout.

If you want to get better at push-ups, you need to actually do push-ups.

Each workout includes two exercises: a set of push-ups performed two to three times per day and one complimentary move that will help build the strength needed to achieve more push-ups.

Here’s how to figure out how many push-ups you should do in a set: Take the maximum amount of push-ups you can do comfortably in one try and cut that number in half. For example, if you can bang out 10 easily, perform 5 push-ups two to three times per day. That’s 15 push-ups per day, more than you were able to do before, but since you’re not doing them all at once, it won’t seem as hard.

The five workouts are below. You will need a set of light to medium dumbbells and a bench or elevated platform. An exercise mat is optional. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and stop at any point if something feels off.

Push-Ups (Half of Max)

Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core, glutes, and legs engaged. Bend elbows to lower chest to the floor. Your elbows should point back at a 45-degree angle. Keeping core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, push back up to the starting position. Do one set of half the max amount of push-ups you can do, two to three times per day.

Lying Dumbell Chest Press

Lie faceup on a mat with knees bent, feet firmly planted on the ground. Hold two dumbbells in each hand (palms facing forward) with your arms straight up in the air. Lower the weights to your chest until your elbows touch the floor. Press weights back up to the starting position. Repeat. Start with two sets of 8 to 10. Add one set each week until you hit the 30-day mark.

Forearm Plank

Start by lying on the ground with your forearms flat on the floor. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Using your core, lift your body off the ground and into a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds. Start with two sets, and add one set each week until you hit the 30-day mark.

 

Eccentric Push-Up

Start in a high plank position, wrists under shoulders, core and glutes engaged so body forms a straight line from head to hells. Slowly bend elbows to lower chest all the way down to the floor for a count of five seconds. Press hips back to heels then return to a high plank position. Repeat. Start with two sets of 5 reps. Add one set each week until you hit the 30-day mark.

 

 

Elevated Push-Up

Place hands on a sturdy box or bench with arms should be straight, shoulders directly over wrists, core engaged so the rest of your body forms a straight line. Bend elbows to lower chest to the surface, then press back up to starting position. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps. Start with two sets, then add one set each week until you hit the 30-day mark.

 

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press

Sit on a box or a bench with your back straight and your feet out in front of you. Start by holding dumbbells in each hand, racked at shoulders, palms facing out. Press the dumbbells up overhead, then lower back down with control. Repeat. Start with two sets of 8 to 10. Add one set each week until you hit the 30-day mark.

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