The Year of 10,000 Push-Ups

I’m overweight. I haven’t weighed myself for quite a while, and I’m a little scared that my weight might not fit in 8 bits.

I toyed around with a goal of getting my weight down to 220 by my 40th birthday (Jul), but really what it’s all about is not weight so much as function and shape. That is to say, I want to be able to play a good hard game of ultimate without huffing & puffing the whole time, and I’d rather have huge pectoral muscles (insert voice of Ren Hoek here) than moobs.

So instead of focusing on the single value of weight, which is the effect of a large number of difficult-to-control input variables, I thought I’d set a more concrete goal, one that I’d have more control over. As you no doubt realize from the title of this post, that goal is to do 10,000 push-ups this year.

The push-up is widely recognized as the single best all-body exercise:

The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit. … “It takes strength to do them, and it takes endurance to do a lot of them,” said Jack LaLanne, 93.

I chose the number 10,000 because it’s a nice round number which sounds really impressive, but it shouldn’t actually be that hard to attain. Even though I’ve missed the whole first month of 2010, what’s left divides out to only 30/day. So the challenge is really more tortoise-y than hare-y. As a matter of fact, I expect that as I grow stronger, 30/day will become quite easy. Even this morning I initiated the challenge by busting out 20, and here’s a training plan that advertises six weeks to 100 in a row. And hey, this kid only took a few hours! So, barring injury, the goal should stretch to 15,000 or 20,000.

As an aid to accountability, I’ve created a public spreadsheet to track my progress. I’ll be posting periodic updates (1,000-push-up milestones, goal adjustments, etc). I invite you all to check on my progress and heckle me as appropriate.

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