Monday, December 3, 2007

100 push-ups a day - macho or mad ?

“Yeah mate, I do 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups every night. I feel great and don’t need a gym. The girlfriend loves it”. I’ve heard this said so many times, from mostly young guys, that it’s beginning to feel as repetitive as all those push-ups. Of course you feel great. Your body has not yet had the years of abuse from bad exercise plans that will result in long-term pain and discomfort. The live fast die young brigade is alive in the mid noughties. But it’s not so much based on drugs as it was in the sixties. These days it’s the body beautiful that is the rush. Those that punish themselves daily with RSI-inducing manoeuvres are falling prey to the idea that if something produces a desired result, doing it repeatedly will provide an improved result.
I started thinking about the long-term effects of 100 push-ups or 200 sit-ups per day. The old adage “too much of anything is bad for you” proves itself here. If you do 100 push-ups every morning you will no doubt develop strong muscles in the chest and arms. Your efficiency at doing push-ups will increase to the point that it doesn’t take major effort to complete the 100. No doubt you would become a stronger person overall. Wonderful ! But take into consideration several points. There are two sides to every coin and in simplistic terms there are two sides to every body. The front side is where the pectoral muscles and anterior deltoids reside. These muscles help to push the body from the floor. Located on the back side are the rhomboids and trapezius muscles which help are contracted when you use your arms to pull something towards your body. The rhomboids and trapezius are antagonist muscles to the pectorals. This means they work in opposition to the agonist muscles. Basically when one muscle is contracting its antagonist is stretching. The antagonist has the job of returning the worked muscle to its original position. Now imagine you are working your pectoral muscles by doing push-ups. The Rhomboids are stretched during these exercises. If you do 100 push-ups you are not only creating stronger pectorals, you are creating weaker rhomboids due to their becoming stretched and taut. If these powerful back muscles are neglected then they will end up much weaker relative to the muscles of the chest. The pectorals, on the other hand, become tight and shortened due to overuse. These muscles of the body are designed to work in pairs, antagonists and agonists pulling against each other to keep bones in place and our posture in line. If there is an imbalance in the power of one side of the pair then bad posture, pain, injury and reduced mobility can ensue. Have you ever noticed that body builders (and bouncers) palms of their hands face backward? They walk a bit like apes because their shoulders are rotated forward from the immense tightening of the chest muscles and the weak stretched back muscles. As the shoulders rotate forwards the back of the hand turns to face the front and the palm faces behind the body. The classic Neanderthal position. Still keen to work those chest muscles 100 times every day?

12 comments:

GymRat said...

A lot of gyms you walk into have plenty of benches for presses and these get a lot of use. Seems guys are really working on the pecs while the squat rack is never busy. You can get a great queue-free workout if you focus on the muscles that most guys don't bother with.

Anonymous said...

If someone decides for a pushups workout, there's a great program called 100 pushups for breakfast. It can help you achieve 100 pushups at once while not being over-trained. If you follow this program you only do workouts 3 times per week.

www.100pushups.info

Anonymous said...

I've been looking over this and I've heard from several sources that they are in fact damaging to your muscles and body for various reasons, especially if done in quantity as that imples that one is doing them incorrectly, meaning less benefit and more damage. I still do 120-140 each night (I do other exercises too), but I'm starting to look for other ways to strengthen my body. More advice: don't use weights. They give large, heavy muscles that weigh you down, and often aren't half as strong as they actually appear. The kind of muscles you want are thin, wiry ones that are just as strong, but not as heavy.

Fit Blog Admin said...

Everything has to be taken in context. You need to ask yourself if the exercises you are doing are beneficial to your goals. If your goal is to be able to do, say 150 pushups a day then your current exercise routine is helping you to achieve that goal. 120-140 each night seems excessive to me but I'm not familiar with your full routine. I'd suggest training the opposing muscles on the back just as much and taking rest days.

As far as weights are concerned I recommend them for everyone unless you have a particular disability which prevents you from this kind of training. Free weights in particular are my preferred choice. Don’t forget that weight training techniques can be tailored for any desired result. I myself always trained for triathlon using weights and although I became slightly heavier the increase in power I enjoyed was worth the extra weight.
I guess when you are referring to "large, heavy muscles" you're talking about the type commonly seen on bodybuilders. Body builders train in a certain fashion to achieve bulky muscles. They prefer appearance to function. A bodybuilder will typically train with reps of 10-15 to achieve maximum 'pump' of the muscles. This is sacrificing strength for an increase in volume.
If you wish to increase strength while having compact, hard muscles then train like an athlete. Lift heavy loads explosively for lower reps (typically 2-8). This takes a lot more skill, effort and control however so it's always worth getting the advice of a trainer.
As a Personal Trainer myself I always had difficulty persuading females in particular that weights will not make you 'big' if you train with them in the correct way. Females also don't have as much muscle-building testosterone as males so it's quite difficult for them to build bulky muscle mass.

In some upcoming posts I will details some ways to strengthen the body in a non bodybuilder way. Good luck with your training.

Anonymous said...

If you add 50 pullups to those 100 pushups, then you wont have that problem with your back muscles.

The human body is designed for one thing...work. In modern times few peoples bodies are put through the extent of work that a pre-modern body had to go through. Imagine having to guide a plow day in and day out, or cary stones away from a quarry thats actual repetive work that can possibly harm.

100 pushups...like my 5y/o daughter would say "oh ple-heeze."

100 pushups are great...150 even better.

Anonymous said...

Some utter tosh being spouted here.

"thin wiry muscles that are stronger" - yeah, right, check out the wiry guys on Worlds Strongest.

"bodybuilders user 12-15 reps" - really? No, the sixties are long gone. Even twenty years ago I was using pyramid training with sets of 6, 8, 10, 12, and 10 reps. Training regimes are much more sophisticated these days.

"Bodybuilders walking like neanderthals". Get real, very few bodybuilders even train chest specifically, let alone exlusively. You wouldn't even qualify for, let alone win any competitions without training all muscles groups for muscular symmetry.

Anonymous said...

Yeah do press ups then chin ups.
My .02 is this, I think people research way too much, take things too literally. What happened to the days when we were teenagers playing sport for 3 hours solid after school then having dinner? Did we think about catabolic states even though we were still getting stronger? What about the exercise people in the 3rd world have to do everyday to hunt for food, bar disease they are healthier than the majority over here.

Anonymous said...

"Some utter tosh being spouted here.

"thin wiry muscles that are stronger" - yeah, right, check out the wiry guys on Worlds Strongest"

Bruce Lee. Isometrics = stronger condensed muscle

Anonymous said...

Guys also add some lunges and squats to the push ups, and pull ups set.
Work out for mornings
4 times 25 push ups
4 times 10 pull ups
4 times 25 squat without any weights
4 times 20 lunges
4 times 30 sit ups
4 times 10 chin ups
4 times 10 diamond push ups

El Cesar said...

Whaaaaat?? The best thing is to get muscles that would help you avoid injuries.
What happens with the bodybuilders? the minute they stop working out and ingesting all those proteins and shakes etc their muscles dissapear. But what happens with the lean-strong rock climbers? they do not have to eat like animals to keep their "functional" strength.
Just wondering, what happened to Arnold? is he still strong?

Todd Dengler said...

Hey, I'm 40 and I'm in great shape. I do 100 pushups every night and i sleep like a champ. I time myself so I keep it under 2 and a half minutes. then i stretch the check and shoulder muscles for about 10 minutes. 3 times a week i work out my back, with extensions, shoulder exercises, and pull-ups. i primarily do body weight stuff. stay flexible throughout and you could do 1000 pushups a day and still remain "upright". it's about flexibility, mobility, and strength al working together. peace and love.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments:Experience is often the best teacher but I hope many will not have to learn from experience. I have been doing 150 pushups for 5 days a week mixed with 60 chin-ups for about 15years. I am now in serious trouble as I get severe pains in the rhomboids and trapezius on my left side. If I had known the importance of balance I would have avoided this.