OT: back to the push-ups for a moment.

Self portrait #12

When I visited my portrait subject, a 93 year old physician, today at his house I noticed that he had an exercise mat and several 10 and 20 pound hand weights in his day room. We talked about exercise a bit and he told me just how important maintaining muscle mass is when aging. I mentioned the push-ups and he countered with the weights. I asked "why?" and he told me he never liked doing push-ups and found weights to be a good alternative. He's a good role model. I noticed he wasn't even out of breath when we climbed up the stairs to the third floor to look at cameras (tangential connection to the blog). 

Thinking about it I decided to share my push-up progress with the brain trust here at VSL; having written about it recently. I am now, after weeks of building up to it, able to execute 50 proper push-ups in one set without falling apart or breaking into a sweat. I am now pushing for my ultimate goal of doing 100 in a continuous set but I am breaking up the training by doing one continuous set of 50 in the morning and then two sets of 25 in the evenings. Once I get used to it I'll increase the number of reps in the first set in the evening until I am do continuous set of 50 in the evening. 

I plan to keep the numbers the same after I hit this intermediary goal but to then start slowing down the push ups to put more pressure on the muscles involved. 

Someone mentioned a concern about blood pressure in one of the comments. I took that seriously and have been monitoring my blood pressure after my set of 50 reps in the morning. I do the set and then rest for 60 seconds and then take my blood pressure with an automatic wrist cuff. 

My blood pressure this morning after the 50 set and the 6o seconds rest was 130/70 with a pulse rate of 68. My average reading, done at random times during the day, seated is usually about 118/60 with a pulse rate of 58-60.  I don't think I am taking too much of a risk at the moment but I guess it's always a good idea to monitor. 

But how are all those push ups paying off? I am stronger in the pool and it's reflected in a new ability to shift down about 5 seconds on intervals (based on sets of 100 yards). I also seem to have more endurance in the middle of a set than I did only a month or two ago. I am also noticing a slight reduction in waist line measurements. Other than that, no radical changes. I think I'll have to stay at it for a longer period of time to see really obvious changes. 

Nothing has changed in my sensitivity to getting up in the dark, driving to the pool in 32 degree temperatures and then flinging myself into the chilly water. I still hate process right up to the point when we get sufficiently warmed up. The hardest part? Getting out of the pool in a brisk wind and running the 200 feet to the locker room. Ouch!


Bill Stormont said...

50 push-ups, you say? Consecutively? Are you sure that isn't a typo (should be a 5, right?).

Seriously…a large percentage of young men (hell, ALL men) would envy that number. I think it attests to your long-term athleticism, all those thousands and thousands of laps in the pools of your life. The strength you've built makes push-ups easy.

The retired doctor's advice, weights vs. push-ups, is only an opinion; most of the fitness gurus today advise body-weight exercises instead of weights. More muscles are engaged, hence the whole body is worked.

The beauty of fitness and exercise is that it's an individual sport. "5" is a good number for me right now…but I'll keep working at it.

Marco Venturini-Autieri said...

I am all for exercising (I do it myself, fortunately) but limiting yourself to push-ups may me wonder "why?". Without going into details, there are dozens and dozens different muscles in our bodies and push-ups only train a few of them. Chest? Yes. Back? Not really, for example.

I can't do all those push-ups! But can you do pull-ups? Crunches?

Even without going to the gym, even just using your own bodyweight at home, you can enrich your routing in order to target a larger number of muscles.

I mean... what's the point of buying a 55mm f/1.8, a 45mm f/2.8, a 50mm f/1.2, a 58mm f/1.4... and not touching any wide angle or tele lens? ;-)

Malcolm said...

Interesting, as I seem to have done the opposite to you! I used to do 30 push-ups on my knuckles very morning and that was fine but I slowly gave up. I am now 47 and my friend who is a Harley Street physiotherapist (that's top notch in the UK) told me she gets a lot of people coming in over 50 as bits stop working because they are not doing enough exercise.

I never could swim as a kid and only later on realised you have to learn to swim. So I learned as an adult but was never very good. Reading your blog about the miles you do in the pool made me realise that the only way to become a strong swimmer is to swim - a lot. There is no short cut.

So I know go to a gym with a small pool and try to go 2-3 times a week. I swim 312 metres but not in one stretch, I'm simply too poor a swimmer. But I am getting better and whilst I still need to lose weight I have a New Year's resolution to swim 200 metres in one stretch. I can just do 100 so I think I can crack that this year. Good luck with the push ups!

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Marco, I don't want you to worry needlessly. If you were a regular reader of VSL you would know that I am an avid masters swimmer and try to log 3200-3400 yards of coached swim workouts 4 or 5 days a week with a longer 4800 yard swim on Saturdays. I also walk four or five miles at least twice a week. Not just push-ups.... Honest.

typingtalker said...

Do you/have you ever measured your BP and HR right after swimming?

Kirk Tuck said...

Yes. I have about 20 minutes after exiting the pool after a grueling Saturday 90 minute workout. It goes as high as 138/78 and then drops down from there. Takes about an hour and a half to go to my normal average. Measured while running (not very fast, 10 minute miles...) and it was higher, like 145/80. If I ran more it might be different. Heart rate, like BP tends to decline over time.

The real question is: have I measured my BP after two cups of coffee and a conversation with a knuckle-headed accountant who wants to know why he can buy an 8x10 at Costco for $1.89 but he's paying me a lot more for one...

Theo Popolous said...

There is validity to what the blogger is doing. There are many theories for developing strength and mass in the male body, and an all-push regimen is one of them. There are books and apps out there to help people meet the so-called 100-Pushup Challenge.

The reason? Well, as non-equipment training movements go, the pushup is about as close to perfection as you're going to get. If you told a group of physical culturists that they could do only one exercise for their rest of their lives, many if not most would pick the pushup. If you limit the selection to bodyweight training only, the pushup becomes the only choice. All body parts get involved if you're doing it right--which is the subject for a book in itself--including the legs, abs and glutes. The humble pushup really is a mini-workout miracle.

Issues? Well, unless you're last name is Walker and your first name is Herschel, 100 pushups a day is a lot of pushups. You have to wonder if that's not too much stress on a particular set of tendons, ligaments and joints. He's swimming, though, which uses a pulling movement. That probably helps balance the pushups, which, of course, involve a pushing movement. The swimming and pushups alone are a great recipe for strength, power and fitness. Plus it sounds like the blogger is doing other training, too.

I give this guy props for seeking physical challenges in his life. He sounds like an elite athlete.

Daniel Walker said...

Ever ask yourself why Ansel Adams did not produce after he reached 56. It became difficult to carry that heavy camera to those really great locations. Muscle mass goes fast after 55. I am sure there are a lot of landscape guys who are really looking for to retirement to spend there happy days taking great landscape shots. It is not going to happen regardless how good your equipment is unless you keep those muscles toned and in shape. It sounds strange but one of the keys to good photography is to stay in shape so you feet can help bring home the goods.