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7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups: Strengthen and Sculpt Your Arms, Abs, Chest, Back and Glutes by Training to do 100 Consecutive Push- Paperback – June 1, 2009
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The book's full title is 7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups: Strengthen and Sculpt Your Arms, Abs, Chest, Back and Glutes by Training to do 100 Consecutive Push-Ups. That's quite a mouthful. It's also a very ambitious claim. Does the workout plan live up to the hype? Let's find out! Given the unevenness of reviews for this book, I decided to volunteer myself as a fitness test monkey and take the 7-week challenge. What follows is my review after having gone through the complete 7-week program and following it exactly as outlined.
It doesn't get any simpler than this. Nothing but push-ups, lots and lots of push-ups, split out over 5 to 7 sets each day, 3 days a week for 7 weeks.
The number of push-ups varies for each set, following a pattern of low-medium-low-high in terms of repetitions. There are 3 workout levels, and the level you start at is determined by a "fitness test" you perform before starting the program. The fitness test consists of doing as many push-ups as you can with good form in a single sitting. Somewhat true to the book's title (see the Cons section below), the beginner level program will get you to 100 push-ups by week 7. The intermediate program that I followed will get you to 100 by week 5, and by the end of week 7 my last workout actually consisted of 200 push-ups. There is even a preliminary strength-building program geared towards someone who is unable to perform push-ups with good form. The advanced and preliminary programs are not reviewed.
Given the minimalist nature of this workout, you really only need enough floor space to comfortably do the push-ups. However, I recommend using either a yoga mat or a towel as a base for your push-ups. This will help keep your floor from getting sweaty and nasty as you crank through all those push-ups. And believe me, you *will* get sweaty!
The time needed to do the actual workout is minimal. On average, each push-up workout alone took about 25 minutes to complete, although towards the end it took me 45 minutes to get through all 200 push-ups for week 7 of the intermediate level workout. Why so long? Well, as the weeks went on and the reps increased, I found that I needed longer and longer rest periods between sets. Factor in another 15-20 minutes or so for stretching, warm up, and cool down and you're really looking at 1 hour per workout, for a total of about 3 hours per week. Note that your total time will vary based on age and fitness level. I'm in my late 30s and out of shape, so if you're younger or more in shape you should be able to crank out your push-ups in less time. Conversely, if you're older or in worse shape than me (and yes, pear is a shape!) then you should budget for at least as much time or more.
The main strength of this program is the simplicity of it. By narrowing the scope to one exercise, the author has crafted a workout that almost anyone can do regardless of initial fitness level. It doesn't require any fancy equipment, which means you can do the workout anywhere. Best of all, it can be done in about 3 hours a week or less. Nice!
The author does a great job of explaining what a push-up is, what muscles are used, and what good form should be like. The workouts are split out into different sections, where each section represents a fitness level (beginner, intermediate, advanced). This clear separation makes the workouts very easy to follow. There is also a simple yet effective stretch and warm up routine provided that will get your blood flowing and muscles warmed up in advance of the pushups. As a side note, I can't stress enough how important it is that you take the time to warm up and stretch prior to the workout. In addition to helping prevent injury, warming up your muscles will help you achieve the higher reps without hitting muscle fatigue as you advance through the program.
Once you've finished the program, what next? The author has you covered here as well. The maintenance section provides at least 15 push-up variations that you can use to take your workout to the next level. Some of these variations require extra equipment like a yoga ball or a medicine ball, but most can be done without having to purchase any extra equipment.
Interestingly enough, the simplicity of the workout is the program's greatest strength and also its greatest weakness. Maybe not surprisingly, doing nothing but push-ups over and over again gets a bit boring after a while. There were several days where I was really jonesing for some variety, just to spice things up a bit. I think the program would have been much improved if the sets were structured with different variations of push-ups rather than leaving all the variations for the maintenance section.
Another nit I need to pick is with the level of instruction provided. Very little guidance is given as to how to handle fatigue during a workout. Although I finished all the workouts, I found that I consistently hit a point where I could no longer push myself up during the last few sets of every workout. I typically got up in kneeling position and rested for a few breaths before continuing with the set. Was I cheating? Did I mess with the effectiveness of the set by taking a break in the middle? Is it more important to complete a set or to stop once I'm unable to complete a push up with good form? I have no idea, and the author is silent on these points. I figured it was better to push through and finish the set by taking breaks as needed to maintain good form, although I'm not sure I got everything out of the workout I could have. Since this program covers beginners, more advice needs to be given to accommodate someone who is approaching this program with little or no workout experience.
Another thing I need to note is that the author seems to have taken liberty with the definition of the word "consecutive", as in "7 weeks to 100 consecutive pushups". When I initially got the book, I thought I would be working up to 100 pushups in a single set. However, the most push-ups that are done in one set is 60 reps, and even then you won't hit this number till the last week of the most advanced program, which I did not do. The beginner workout is structured such that you will work towards completing 100 push-ups in a single workout by week 7. This in itself is quite an accomplishment for any beginner, but it isn't the same as 100 consecutive pushups. This is a minor criticism since the workout is still solid despite the misleading title, but I do think it's important for anyone buying the book to know this. I hit 100 push-ups by week 5 of the intermediate program I was following, and hit 200 on the last day of the program.
Well, I'll tell you right off I didn't get ripped from doing hundreds of push-ups over 7 weeks, but I did see improvements. I had my wife measure my arms and chest before I started the workout and at the end of every week, and although it's hard to tell from the pictures, I actually gained a full inch in both my chest and arm measurements after completing the program. However, I believe the chest measurement gain came mostly from my back rather than my chest. I also toned up a bit on my upper body overall, which is somewhat visible from the pictures in the video. Most importantly, I gained the satisfaction of having completed 200 non-consecutive push-ups in the span of 45 minutes, which I think is pretty darn good for an out-of-shape guy in his late 30s. However, I was disappointed that I did not see bigger gains, especially given the sheer number of pushups I did over the course of the seven weeks.
Although it isn't perfect, "7 Weeks to 100 Push-ups" is a good program for anyone looking for a workout that is simple to do, can be done anywhere, and has a low barrier to entry in terms of intensity, time, and equipment. Granted, you'll need to reset your expectation about what "consecutive" means in terms of achieving 100 (or 200+) pushups, and you'll have to make some assumptions about how to proceed when you get tired, but it doesn't get any simpler than this. I definitely recommend this program for anyone at a beginner or intermediate fitness level. Most people who start a fitness program flame out quickly unless they have a goal to reach. Don't let this be you! This program sets out an ambitious goal that is realistic and achievable, provided you can overlook the fact that you are actually building up to 100 non-consecutive push-ups despite the title of the book. Use this program as a starting point to a healthier and fitter lifestyle.
On the flip side, this workout is much too basic for anyone who is already in shape or who considers themselves to be at an advanced level. I'd say if you can already crank out 50+ pushups in a single set, this workout probably isn't going to be challenging enough for you. If that's the case, I recommend looking elsewhere.
Next up, 7 weeks to 50 pull-ups!
The program has worked well for me. The first time I followed it, I started at the easiest level, wall push-ups. Over the course of several weeks, I moved through the table push-ups, chair push-ups, knee push-ups, and finally got to the standard push-ups. By the time I stopped several months later, I could do about 15 standard push ups in a row, which is a 1500 percent increase over what I started with. My posture improved, I gained a lot of strength, and I was less fatigued sitting at the computer for long hours. In short, if your goal is modest as mine was and you simply want to build some upper body strength to compliment other activities like running, I think this is a good program.
However, as with so many books that are converted for Kindle, this one has some problems. First, the charts are the most important part of the book. Without the charts, the book is useless. In the Kindle edition, the charts are so small that they are barely readable. Second, this version doesn't have searchable page numbers. So when the author indicates that the preliminary charts are on page 120, you'll still need to do quite a bit of work to find them. Overall: great book, Kindle edition lacking.
I am 52 years old, started the program 7 weeks and 2 days ago. In the beginning test, I was able to do 20. Today I did 100 pushups. Program is not fancy but tailored to your ability at first and, bottom line, it worked.
The book is fairly basic but has you start out seeing how many push ups you can do. I did 20. Based on that it had a program that started me out at the right level.
The program reminds me of a saying from Jim Rohn, author and success coach, who said, "If you can only do 20 push ups, and you do 20, can you do more?" The answer is yes, if you wait a little bit. The program has you do a certain number of push ups, wait a minute and do a certain number more. It is set up in a proven, tested, progression that takes you to the limit every week and then builds.
Many times a session was tough to complete, but I never missed and pushed hard. After I completed the 7 week program, I waited 2 days for my test. Thought I was not going to make it when I hit 90, but persevered and completed all 100 and then basically collapsed (in a good way). But I did it and I believe most can if they follow this program.
On the downside, if you are looking for a highly technical book that goes into detail about muscle groups, how they work, etc. probably not a book for you. This is written for the average person with an easy to follow program.
I recommend this book, easy to read and understand. Hope this helps you.
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