The Perfect Push-up.

March 22, 2010

Whenever i speak with a runner or someone who is planning on running a race in the near future, i cannot stress enough how imporant cross-training is.  It doesn’t matter how much time you have to train, do it.  You have to make time for cross-training or else you are literally breaking down muscles over and over again without properly building them back up.  Running 7 days a week is both counter-productive and hazardous to a training schedule AND your health. This is not coming from the 4th year pre-med student who picked this up in an exercise physiology textbook; this is coming from the kid who is all-to-familiar with the negative outcomes that over-training can lead to: Injuries, Nutrient Deficiencies, Disorders, Diseases, and obviously poor-performance.  I walked into my freshmen year of University a healthy, fit, strong, 18 year old who loved everything having to do with athletics, exercise, fitness, and strength-training.  Slowly this passion turned into an addiction that i didn’t really understand at first until i started seeing the effects it was having on my life.  Running 80 miles a week, and strength-training every day was leading me no where.  Not only was i ALWAYS tired in class, but i felt like i was neglecting personal relationships as i was in bed by 9:30 every night and up at 6:30 to start my “training” regimen over the next day.  I tried to justify my habits by reading tons of articles on elite-endurance athletes and how much they train.  I thought, they can do it, why can’t I?  And i still to this day feel that i am capable of competing on the elite scale.  But what has changed?  My entire attitude towards health and fitness.  I thought i was in the best shape of my life at that point.  WRONG.  I was run down, I was diagnosed with pernicious anemia, my B-12 levels were low, i had a bone-marrow biopsy done and they found only trace amounts of reserve iron and i was unhappy. Fitness is not about how you look or feel about how you look on the outside or whether or not you beat your own PR every other day.  At some point, everyone has to accept a boundary level that we as humans are not perfect, and that RECOVERY IS OF THE SAME IMPORTANCE as training, as well as it is a integral part of any successful training program.  I soon realized that giving myself 2 days off a week was allowing me to not only perform better, but increase my speed, and my distance (running-wise).  Could this be true?  Could letting my body rest be the key to greatness?
Once i came to this wonderful realization and began building my strength back up again, i began taking three days a week to fit cross-training into my plan and littering the other four with stable runs (8m, 10m, 12m).  This worked wonders for me. My body was able to  heal from the pounding it took during my runs on the days that i cross-train and focus on building the muscles that support my posture, core, and stability.  I realized that while strength training my heart-rate was no where near where it was when i was running, which i wasn’t very happy with.  It is obvious that i didn’t want cross-training to surpass the amount of stress on my body that i was attaining on the other days, but i was looking for more.  This is where the push-up became one of my best friends.

Lean Deane’s Tips For The Ultimate Running Machine # 2

I am crazy about push-ups, i even hold the record at my high-school for more completed in two minutes.  But i will admit, although i considered 130 a mega-fitness achievement in high-school, i was not engaging all of my muscles nor was i concentrating on what i should be working while doing so.  A perfect push-up as i like to refer to it, should take 10 seconds!  You should be focused on extending your legs as far as possible, while being as straight as possible with your toes dorsi-flexed towards your head.  Your butt should be level with the rest of your body and you hands should be shoulder-width apart.  You should start off on the ground with your nose touching the floor or almost touching the floor (if the floors in your gym are a little iffy).  When raising you should be concentrating on engaging your pectoral muscles, abdominal muscles, and keeping your legs absolutely stiff.  Count to 4 coming up, BUT DO NOT COME UP ALL THE WAY.  You should be stopping and pausing for one second with your elbows bent at about a 75 degree angle or 3/4 of the way and back down to touch your nose to the floor for a 4 count.  If you want to make it much harder on your self, don’t come down all the way every other push-up, rather bounce at the bottom and hold for longer at 3/4 of the way up.  If you get really good with the bouncing method, start allowing your palms to jump off of the ground about an inch each time.  Whether you can do 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 pushups (which will be close to impossible if you are using this method properly) the best way to end a “set” is with a 120 second plank in push-up position.  I have seen professional runners use my method and they love it and swear by it compared to regular plank position.  On your last push-up of the set, come down to about 3 inches or so from the ground, hold and stiffen your legs engaging your abdominal muscles.  Tell me how it works out! :)  Perfect push-ups are capable of working five different groups of muscles, increasing your heart rate during anaerobic activity, and with other body-weight exercises are also capable of eliminating the need for expensive gym memberships (woops, the secrets out).   I do 30 minutes of perfect push-ups on my off days and love every minute of them because i feel as though i am working my entire upper body and strengthening my core to improve and stabilize my running posture.  I hope you all will try them as well.  I will try to post a video soon when i find suitable camera time at work.

Anyone ever tried this stuff?  I intend to tonight, i’ll let you know how it goes!  And thanks for all of your great suggestions regarding Seattle :)  Deane, out!


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8 Responses to “The Perfect Push-up.”

  1. elise said

    oh and ps i really wanna know how that nut butter is…

  2. elise said

    sometimes a do the girly ones (on my knees) in between sets of real ones…how many did you do in 2 minutes???

    i had the pullup record at my junior high ;) but to be fair i did gymnastics and weighed like 70 pounds at the time – hahaha

  3. Katie said

    Yum, pumpkin seed butter!! I’ve never heard of such a thing, but I bet I would love it.

    Also – awesome thoughts on over-training! When I trained for my first marathon during my sophomore year of college, I definitely over-trained (and under cross-trained), and I have a re-occuring hip injury that still bothers me as a result. Without the money to follow a proper diet, I was VERY UNHAPPY and unhealthy. Glad you addressed this, as I know that my mistakes were just the result of a lack of education!

  4. weirdly, I LOVE pumpkin, but pumpkin seeds … not so much. No idea why! I guess they are actually quite different, but you would think I would like them since they are from the same plant!

  5. kbwood said

    okay im so glad you commented again bc i was looking for your blog the other day and couldnt find it!! i bookmarked it somewhere-now i just dont know where. haha..im so new to google reader anda ll that stuff.
    i really am so excited about doing MORE cross training after my race saturday..i LOVE variety!

  6. super informative, adam and love the pumpkin seed butttahhhh at the end there!

  7. You’re absolutely right. Cross training is very important for any athlete. Great post!

  8. You have so much knowledge, it’s incredible!
    I’m terrible at push-ups..I have to do them on my knees, I have such weak arms! But after reading this, I’m going to try and work on them more :)
    And I agree about the cross training – when I first got into running, I totally over did it, I leapt from about 10 miles in one week, to 6miles every day and then suddenly an 11miler. My body was NOT ready for it and I got injured :( I now always cross train 3 or 4 days a week :) so much better!

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