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Archive for February 23rd, 2009

Endurance Training and the 20 Minute Pushup Challenge

Posted by scott on February 23, 2009

I was inpsired by Adam‘s series of 20-minute challenge workouts to give the 20-minute pushup challenge a go.  I had been doing loose sets of 20s and25s off and on, so was curious to see how far I could go.  My first attempt got me up to 139, which I was pretty proud of.  My next attempt went up to 143 – not bad, and I had already done Fitness Yoga earlier in the day (harder on the arms than it sounds).  Then my running buddy Phil dropped the bomb – he had done 200!

That’s when I realized the problem wasn’t my arms – it was my head.

photo credit:  obo-bobolina (

photo credit: obo-bobolina (

I needed a strategy – this was an endurance test after all.  I realized that if I did 10 per minute, that would already be 200.  So I attacked my next round and did 203.  Then Jeremy drew another line in the sand by doing 230.   w000ttt!!!  This was getting fun!

So last Sunday after getting home from the lake, I set out the timer and hit the floor with the goal of doing 12-rep sets every minute.  That worked for about 9 sets, then I started dropping them back for a few.  I then worked back up to 10s and did them gradually more frequently than once per minute to catch up.  It was amazing that after just a few shorter reps I could get back up to 10s.  Total this time:  238.

I will break 240 next time I do it – just to say I can.  But the interesting activity here is not the total number, its the experience of pushing through exhaustion and breaking limits.  I never would have thought I could do 200 pushups in that amount of time… and then I did.  This is great for the upper arms, but its even better for overall endurance – physical and mental.  This is definitely going to be a core cross-training exercise for me going forward.


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