Extra for experts.

11 09 2011

In the summer of 08 to 09 (or was it 09 to ’10? I forget) I found myself doing an exorbitant amount of press ups.

Actually, I had been doing that for a while before that summer. Just not the right way.

The stupid way.

I used to blast out as many as I could as fast as I could, in an attempt to achieve the highest number possible, hence giving me infinite bragging rights in any given situation.

Oh, you got an A+ for Mathematical Modelling II did you? Well, can you do 70 press ups? Didn’t think so. Shame.

Yes, apparently you are legit if you can do 70 press ups.

But this basically did nothing for me. I found myself hitting a brick wall at around 70, gaining no real size nor definition to my chest in arms, and no increase in fitness.

The problem was of course, I paid no attention to form, or the benefits of slow, solid repetitions.


I had heard that those were fundamental to resistance training if one was to achieve maximal results. But up until that summer, I thought it was myth.

Gym trainers will tell you, if your form is crap, decrease the weight, slow it down, do it properly.

Eventually I decided to give it a go. Full form, chest to the ground, slow, agonizing repetitions.

And whaddya know – it worked. Heaps. I felt the flippin burn. It burned so bad.

Hey howsit going, haven’t seen you in a while! I would give you hug, but moving my arms currently results in excruciating pain.

But so good.

Instead of an impressive, hey-look-at-how-many-press-ups-I-can-do 70 reps, I could now only do 18-20. I worked on doing about 5 sets in the day, so approximately 100 full-form press ups every day of the week. Nearer the end of the summer I could do up to 26 reps at one time. Not a formidable number. I thought these press ups were supposed to work!!


Much to my surprise, however, upon going back to uni, I began to receive numerous flattering (and slightly embarrassing) comments from my peers about the apparently notable increase in girth of my chest.

“Bro, have you been like straight benching over the summer?”

“Dude, have you been working out?”

“Its actually ridiculous how large Hugh’s chest has gotten”

But what in horse’s name? I hadn’t been benching, I hadn’t even been using weights. Or taking protein. Or juicing. Or doing anything particularly drastic. Surely they’re just lying to me?

Lies. All lies.

But really, who am I to disagree with multiple independent attestation!? It worked.

So what can I learn from this?

If I want results, I need to let go of the vanity-induced aspiration for high rep numbers.

Get over yourself.

Pragmatically speaking, if you don’t go to a gym, get into press ups, sit ups, tricep dips, etc. Perhaps aim for something similar, like 80-100 a day. Do in sets of 10-20, or whatever you can. In the morning, during breaks at work (if you’re OK with looking like a douche), in the evening. Get the form right, take it slow, do it properly. Do it frequently and do it consistently. Be patient.

Patience is indeed a virtue. And a virtuous muscley person is better than a non virtuous one.

Perhaps this could be part of the solution to my tricep problem? I’ve started again doing diamond press ups in similar fashion.

Let’s see where I’m at in a couple of months time!




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