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    COACH_NICOLE   72,921
60,000-79,999 SparkPoints

I Can'te> Can Do Pushups!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I have something embarrassing to share. Let me preface this by saying that when you're a fitness professional, especially an "expert," people expect certain things from you. They expect you to be super-fit for one, but I busted that myth in an entry a while back (see I Don't Have a 6 Pack ). They expect you to be strong and to be able to do certain athletic endeavors that others simply cannot. After all, if fitness is your thing you have to walk the walk.

Well, most of these things are true for me, but not all of them. While I like to exercise, I don't love it. I skip workouts, lie on the couch when I could be doing something active outdoors, and I don't eat perfectly. But my big secret is that for most of my life, I couldn't do pushups. I'm talking REAL pushups here—toes on the floor (not knees), body straight (without lifting the hips), elbows bent to 90 degrees (minimum).

If I ever told people about my pitiful pushups, I'd get one of two reactions:
  1. "Well I can't do pushups either!" I'd get this response from a lot of other women, making me feel better.

  2. "What?! But they're so easy!" I'd hear this from all men, regardless of fitness level, and from more women than I expected, actually. This is the dreaded response that made me feel really lame...hence the reason I kept it a secret.

I blamed my lack of pushup prowess on my small arms. Although stronger than the average woman (at least that's what I'd like to think, thank you), my muscles aren't that big and they weren't quite strong enough to support my body during pushups.

So this year I set a goal to do real pushups, no matter how long it took. I followed a real training program, doing pushups 2-3 times per week and working on strengthening my pushup muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps), too. Turns out I wasn't the only SP-staffer to want to reach this goal, so I enlisted Rachel (Stepfanie also joined us recently), and we trained together.

  • Every Monday: Pushups, 3 sets
  • Every Wednesday: Chest exercises in the SP gym, such as dumbbell chest presses, chest flys, pullovers, and machine chest presses
  • Every Friday: Pushups again, 3 sets

And so it went for weeks and weeks. We decided to go with an incline-reducing program, which means that you start on a high incline (like the edge of a table), which is easier, and gradually progress to a lower incline (like a step), which is harder, until you're strong enough to do pushups flat on the floor.

Well this Monday, after nearly 6 months of training, I'm thrilled to report that I did REAL pushups—and not just one or two. A full set of 10! I would have settled to be able to do a few respectable ones, even if not a full set. And even though this seems like a small feat, or even kind of silly, I'm proud of myself. It took a lot of work and dedication.

I Can't CAN Do Pushups! Enjoy the show!

So what can you learn from my pushups? Plenty. What got me here are the same principles that we preach to SparkPeople members every day. No matter what your goal is—losing weight or conquering your own fitness feat, the same principles apply:

  1. Set a goal. Make it specific and put a date on it. My goal: Do a full set of real pushups by the end of the year.

  2. Make a plan. It's not enough to have a goal. You have to know HOW you're going to make it happen. My plan: Train 3 times a week, gradually increasing the challenge (whether weights, lower incline or more repetitions) over time to I can get stronger and better. I wrote-in my workouts on my calendar here at work—every single day so that I'd have a reminder and feel accomplished by crossing it off my list.

  3. Enlist support. It's hard to do anything without the encouragement and motivation of others. As much as I wanted to do pushups, I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have one or two other people pushing me (and vice versa) to continue. If it was up to me alone, I probably would have skipped more than a few of those training sessions. But having people to encourage and remind you always helps. That's what you get here at SparkPeople, using SparkTeams and other Community features (like Message Boards).

  4. Expect setbacks. They happen to everyone, even when you're seemingly doing everything right. There were many weeks that I actually got WEAKER and could do fewer pushups or chest presses than the week before. But I didn't let it discourage me—I knew it was part of the process. Every week I'd come back and do my best.

  5. Be consistent. Don't give up. And if you fail, forget or mess up, keep on trying. I can't tell you how many times I hit the SP gym in flip flops, a skirt, and all kinds of clothes that were entirely inappropriate for working out. But I didn't use it as an excuse to get out of it. Skirt, jeans, sweaters or not, we all stuck with our plan.

  6. Think positive. Six months ago, especially looking back at where I started, I wouldn't have thought that I could make it this far. And during each of my workouts, even though it was hard and I didn't always like doing it, I'd tell myself positive things like, "I'm strong," or "I can do this."

In the end, it was all worth it. emoticon


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
DOLLFACEDX 10/16/2011 9:30PM

    Coach_Nicole - this Blog spoke 2 me....I have short arms and have always had trouble with push-ups - just no arm strength.

I've copied ur Blog & saved 2 my Spark file - I will read & re-read it as I work 2 do even a single push-up!

Thx, Dolly

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GREBJACK 12/27/2010 7:23PM

    Coach Nicole, you continue to inspire me. Next on my list is pull-ups. I'll have it by March 10 (I'll have ONE) and I'm training by jumping up and lowering myself slowly from a bar in my garage. Slowly but surely...

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NANCYGIRLLAX 11/8/2010 11:12AM

    Okay, I am motivated to work on push ups. I found that I am terrible at these, I am getting better at everything, but I see that I need to focus on this particular area. I have been focusing on my legs as I am getting over a few injuries. Thanks for the blog!

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MARIA_S 4/7/2010 11:02AM

    Well done! I can't do any standard push-ups. I've never been able to. But I think that I'll make that a goal to work towards. I tried yesterday, no knees on the floor and got through two semi-decent push-ups. That was actually better than I expected. But now that I know it's possible, time to step it up and make it a priority.

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KRISTENPA 2/1/2010 11:28PM

    I can do 30 "girlie pushups" but only 1 "military pushup". I was beginning to think that there was something wrong with me, but after reading your blog, I am inspired to try and train your way and be able to do 10 "military pushups" by the end of June! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

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GILLIANMASTERS 10/5/2009 11:09AM

    I never thought i would be able to do a push up, but after reading this I am going to train harder and try. Thanks for the motivation!!!!!

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KEENIEBOY 9/17/2008 11:41PM

    I can remember a time when I couldn't do one push up!! I took a fitness test and I completed 35 pushups in one minute!!!!! I'm so proud of myself!! This is considered good!

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KIRSTMCLEAN 9/10/2008 9:59PM

    Right now I can do 11 Good-Form (Men's Pushups) consecutively. My husband and I just started a challenge that is hopefully going to increase my pushups to 100 (it's a 6 week program, but I imagine it'll take me longer). You should check it out, if you want to improve your push up progress.

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PHARMOGO 8/12/2008 4:43AM

  You are so right. Persistence will do the job. When I first started my fitness progrma late in april, I could'nt do the 'female ' push-ups. now I am proud to say that I usually do about 30 'male' pushups and 20 female push-ups everyday. That is what I call progress

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SUPERSTAR321 8/1/2008 12:42PM

    Ha ha ha! You are amazing!
I seriously thought I was the only one! My friend and I were talking about this the other day and she is able to do them like nothing...
Thank you for the inspiration!

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KBCRAZY 7/24/2008 6:43PM

    For some reason my right shoulder will not let me do a push up! When I try, I get major pains throughout. Im stuck with doing wall pushups!!!

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APACHE21 7/23/2008 8:41PM

  I have ben trying to do pushups for along time and can't do them. Thanks for your encouragement! I am going to start today!!

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2BESMALLAGAIN 7/9/2008 5:30AM

  Hi. great job on your videos. I am beginning to use them in my workouts. I'm also one who has always wanted to do pushups (not modified) and so this blog has inspired me to try them and not overdo them.
slowly work into a set and then I should be able to do more. Thanks for inspiration

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HOLLY-OLLY 7/8/2008 1:24PM

    That's awesome!

I've never been able to do a real push-up. I even have trouble with the modified ones.

I'm gonna make this a goal!

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XEMZYBABY08X 7/8/2008 7:43AM

  You are truely inspirational.
Well done.

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ONEDAY@ATIME1 7/5/2008 12:07PM

    You've set the example. If determined, I can achieve my goals. Congratulationns on your acomplishment.

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    Wow, thankyou! I just started jogging recently for the first time in my life, and although I do more walking than jogging it seems, I'm definitely going to following your steps and I'm sure this will change!

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YANDI4LIFE 7/3/2008 4:11AM

    You made feel feel like my goals (whatever they are) can be accomplished. I was beginning to feel as though they were not. Thank you!!!!

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DEEZEE 7/1/2008 11:16AM

You just inspired me to do this! Thank YOU!!! emoticon

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MOMBUCK3 6/30/2008 8:57AM

    Way to go Girl!

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-.LIBRESOL.- 6/28/2008 7:15PM

    great! congrats on your REAL BOY push-ups coach! emoticon great example on setting a goal, stick to it, and hit it!

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GINGER2 6/27/2008 9:59PM

  Great tips. You should set goals, and then make a plan how to reach them. emoticon

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LOVEBEAM 6/27/2008 11:32AM

    WoW excuses i have stairs at my home! yippy

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PRINCESS_JEANNE 6/27/2008 9:20AM

  That is great. I tried to do push ups last night and fell on the floor laughing at myself. I did wall pushups instead.

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JOANNAQUI 6/26/2008 7:00PM

    Awesome! emoticon

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FREEMONT12 6/25/2008 12:42PM

    Good info.

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ETAGGEL 6/21/2008 6:01PM

    emoticon emoticon

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STEPFANIER 6/17/2008 2:25PM

  So now it's on to the next challenge, right? I'm so proud of myself for being able to do "boy push-ups." I started training well after Nicole and Rachel, so I'm still a bit behind in form and numbers, but I'm doing them! Yay!

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MSPAINTER 6/17/2008 9:57AM

  This so great that I found this blog! I too have always wanted to do boy push-ups! I had started my quest about a month ago. I

can now do about 3 sets of 10, like you though ,with a little noise! I started mine by just going halfway till I got strong enough to go all the way.Thanks for sharing! emoticon

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LATEBIRD 6/16/2008 6:00PM

    Thanks so much for sharing. It is good to know I'm not alone with the push up thing. I am in good shape, but still don't have a lot of upper body strength. I'm working on it though, and I can do about 2 push ups with correct form. Thanks for the inspiration, I will make it to 10, I know I will!

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SUETIGGER 6/16/2008 1:14PM

    That's awesome! On a good day, I can do 5 'boy' pushups. Way to go you!


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ELAINEVDW 6/16/2008 12:33PM

    Interestingly enough, I recently found a 100 pushups program that's similar to the Couch to 5K programs you see around the internet:

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ROSEINWINTER8 6/16/2008 11:37AM

    Congratulations on your goal! And thank you for the encouragement. emoticon

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LADYBUG-DR 6/16/2008 11:18AM

    ! emoticon
Congrats on your push-up goal! That is fantastic!
Now it's my turn. I've never been able to do a push-up...correctly.
The goal has been a long time thought, but thoughts don't get you to your goal - action and hard work do!
I've always been embarrassed to admit I can't do a push-up, what a weakling I am! So relieved to know that I'm not alone.
Thank You Nicole! You are such a positive inspiration!
I can also do a push-up ~:o) with determination and hardwork

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LAURAKOHORST 6/16/2008 2:18AM

    emoticon emoticon Thank you for sharing. It means a lot to hear I'm not the only one that needs to step up and do more.

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LINEDANCER581 6/15/2008 11:00PM

    I liked how you set a goal and were specific on how to achieve it. You did a great job! emoticon

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CHUBBY69 6/15/2008 8:09PM

  WOW! You must be over the moon! I hope you reward yourself!

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SANDY2660 6/15/2008 6:06PM

    Great Job!

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SUNNY89 6/15/2008 5:16PM

    Way to go. It is not easy to admit out loud what you can not do and even harder to go out and make it something that you can do. Thank you, that alone is inspirational.


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DAGNETAGGERT 6/15/2008 2:42PM

    What you have to say, well, it makes me feel more strongly about sticking to my plans, thanks for reminding me why I'm working to get healthier in every way!

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BRIELLFAM 6/15/2008 2:13PM

    Is it a Nicole thing? I can't do push ups either!

Thanks for the plan. I will start tomorrow! The karate teachers will be thrilled if I could do a real push up!

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SHELLPRO 6/15/2008 1:09AM

    Good 4 U! Admiting a weakness is so hard! But its the 1st step to over-coming it too! And you did it!
And I'm striving to get back to the push ups totals I used to have. Now about those CRUNCHES! Yikes!

Comment edited on: 6/15/2008 1:08:39 AM

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BSKTDIVA 6/14/2008 9:28PM

    wow Nicole what a Friday the 13th goal! Congrats - great to know even the fitess of the fit still has areas where they can progress !!!
Ann emoticon

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ZUZUMARIE 6/14/2008 12:52PM

    Congratulations! You both are inspirational!!

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COLEMANSR 6/14/2008 12:15PM

    Thanks so much. I copied and Paste the principals in my notepad.

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KARIWITT 6/14/2008 9:15AM

    People can do what you tell your mind and spirit to do!
In my case, I cannot do push ups due to a health issue. When I do push ups I get sick and the doctor told me to continue exercising, just not doing push ups.

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SHAPESHIFTER_V 6/14/2008 3:32AM

    Way to go girls!!! Yeaaah!

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ULVUND50 6/14/2008 12:59AM

    Smiling and clapping here! Congratulations to both of you!

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IMATOADSTOOL 6/13/2008 11:20PM

    Congrats! You are an inspiration :D

emoticon emoticon

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BETHIN_MN 6/13/2008 7:19PM

    Way to go! I just love those little milestones and firsts. One of my goals was to run a mile straight, and now I can run 2 miles straight!!


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