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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!
I've made a lot more progress to 100 by focusing on various muscles that contribute to solid push-ups--the core, the shoulders, the pecs, good flexibility, and of course intense cardio. I'm not there yet but it's taken me further and faster than this book did--and I have better overall fitness as an aside.
This program will get you in the best shape of your life. The book is outlined to take you from where you are now to the 100 pushup goal. The workouts are very well balanced and don't feel like a chore to do, so you wont be dreading it.
The book is setup so you should be at 100 pushups at day 48. I was able to beat that by a few days as I do pushups in my business.
You can still follow the program even after you reach the goal of 100, so its not like one of those things that get you there and then OK YOURE DONE.
Pushups are a great thing for your core and extremities. Could be the perfect exercise. I highly recommend this book. Even if you dont reach your goal of 100 whats the worst that could happen: Youre still in better shape and look and feel better.
My experience may help, 57 year old male of average fitness. I did 25 push ups to establish a base line, so I went to the Advance 1 program. The last set on Friday is really hard, so it is probably the correct level of effort. The warm ups make a difference, it easier for me, when I stretch before the sets. Not sure that this program does much for abs or glutes, as claimed on the cover, they never feel 'worked' post the work out.
Entering Week 4 I have lost 4 lbs and definitely gained some strength. I will go for a run, or do a leg workout, on the off days, but have not done any upper body exercises since starting. I could care less about acheiving 100, it is simply a target, if I get there, that will be great, if not, it remains a successful program. I am enjoying doing more push ups than I ever thought possible and have seen positive changes in the pecs and shoulders and I like the simplicity and purity of the movements.
The book is slight, some padding about world record holders and the like. These serve to make doing merely 100 seem pretty pathetic, so not sure that this section helps. The core of the book is the charting, and it seems to work and be easy. So I recommend it, include a run and a couple of Tabata routines on the off days and you will be fitter and stronger without spending a lot of time or money.
Update, completed the program, never did manage 100 straight off, certainly can do well over 100 with short breaks < 1 minute. Certainly feel it was worthwhile pursuing and have several colleagues who have started the program and also seen very positive results
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