Lessons from 10,000 push-ups

How have you decided to spend your time during the COVID crisis?

Coronavirus has resulted in my gym closing its doors and all of us having more time on our hands to do stuff. I am weird, I chose push-ups.

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I am not a fitness kind of guy, even though pre-pandemic I successfully dabbled with some group fitness classes. I have always liked the way push-ups make my body feel, when I was teenager and even now that I am 41-years-old.

And now there is no excuse, no reason not to bang them out, regularly. I have some extra time on my hands and now there is no cost involved.

No commuting, no school drop-offs, no social obligations, no late meetings and no sporting events has translated into more time at home. More time for push-ups.

I set myself a simple task, 100 push-ups per day for 100 days. I was so serious about this commitment, that I drew a chart with my kids’ textas and stuck it to the fridge. That’s how full-on I was being about this!

I set myself a simple task, 100 push-ups per day for 100 days. I was so serious about this commitment, that I drew a chart with my kids’ textas and stuck it to the fridge.

Financially speaking I would be saving around $16 per week in gym fees, however that was happening whether I did the push-ups or not. Would doing 100 push-ups per day become enough of a replacement for an ongoing gym membership?

Total saving around $112.

I had no idea what lay ahead for me on this unprecedented journey, just like Coronavirus itself. But my mindset was based on knowing myself, thinking that if we reached 100 days of pandemic isolation and I had nothing to show for it I would be devestated.

The official DownunderDad push-up chart after only eleven days. If you would like your own push-up chart I could teach you how I made mine!

So I decided I wanted to complete something with my time in isolation and working from home would give me that opportunity like never before. And like never again.

Day One – My son’s ninth birthday. The first day will be the most difficult, so I told myself. My first set for the day was only 20 push-ups, there were some sets today when I only managed 15 at a time. Don’t judge.

Day Two – The first day was NOT the most difficult, my lats are killing me. I am experiencing weird soreness in joints and areas that I did not even know existed. And this is only the second day, I’m a little ashamed of myself.

Day Three – Lesson learned, definitely the third day was the hardest.

Day Four – My first day of doing five full sets of twenty, spread out across the day. I told you I was not a fitness type guy.

Day Five – Today’s lesson was simple, get all the push-ups done before having a beer.

Day Six – First set was 25 push-ups, I am getting stronger and the soreness has subsided.

Day Seven – First day when I completed all 100 push-ups prior to lunch.

Day Eight – My push-ups are getting better. My form is more consistent throughout the sets of 25 at a time, and between the sets throughout the day. My back feels straighter and I seem to be going down lower that when I started.

Day Nine – Easter Sunday as it happens. Chocolate and exercise do not mix. Got them done regardless.

Day Ten – Push-ups alone are not enough. Exercise, being active or just getting outside is super important during this self-isolation and period of working from home. I need to ensure I continue to incorporate a bike ride, swim or walk in conjunction with my push-ups routine.

This is NOT DownunderDad, I would never wear a matching hoodie and shorts! (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com)

Day Eleven – It matters where I put my hands. I do not know the most effective way to be doing push-ups, maybe I should Google that actually. However, I have noticed that when my hands are further apart, my chest gets more of a workout. When my hands are closer together, my triceps burn like crazy.

Day Twelve – I am still doing it, I have not missed a day. I can do this.

Day Thirteen – Four sets of 25 push-ups is standard now, usually all done prior to lunch.

Day Fourteen – If I slack-off, skip reps or forget I am only cheating myself. This idea of 100 x 100 is all about me. I am in this on my own, for myself. I got this.

Day Fifteen – It matters where I look. If I focus my gaze down my body and look at the floor under my belly, my neck is down and the bulk of work appears to be done by the tops of my shoulders. If I look straight down at the ground between my hands it feels as though I am doing a stronger more stable push-up. When I am looking forward, with my head raised and my vision focused out into the distance the push-ups seem considerably more difficult, but different which is good I presume.

Day Sixteen – I hope I do not hurt myself, maybe I should consult Google before it is too late.

Day Seventeen – I am glad I started this when I did, this Coronavirus thing looks set to continue.

Day Eighteen – Mrs DD is impressed, which makes me smile. In fact she has decided to undertake her own fitness goal. She registered for the MS 50k in May.

Mrs DD is impressed, which makes me smile. In fact she has decided to undertake her own fitness goal.

Day Nineteen – Did not do my first push-up until after 3pm, learned that this is not the best way to go about things. Idiot.

Day Twenty – This morning I did two lots of push-ups before 9.30am, and for the first time they were both in sets of 30. Feeling good about the progress.

Day Twenty-One – Lest we forget. Anzac Day, shame about all the social distancing. Seeing red poppies everywhere makes 100 push-ups feel rather inconsequential.

Lest we forget

Day Twenty-Two – Right-hand wrist is starting to ache, helps doing the push-ups on carpet rather than the floor tiles. Fingers crossed it comes good.

Day Twenty-Three – I cannot figure out if push-ups are more efficient (easier) on carpet or floor tiles. Nor can I figure out the science behind it. I suspect carpet is better, will continue the experimentation.

Coffee helps push-ups. Be sure to read my post about how I drink coffee now! (Pic by DownunderDad)

Day Twenty-Four – Mrs DD said she noticed a difference with the look of my upper body, not sure if I should be proud or embarassed that it came about after just three weeks, hahaha. She’s a good egg.

Day Twenty-Five – One quarter of the way there, 25% done and dusted. Feels sustainable, confient I can keep this rolling.

Day Twenty-Six – This morning I did a set of 25 followed by a short stretch and then another lot of ten. I figured this brings down the number of push-up sessions per day from four to three.

Day Twenty-Seven – I am sore again, it seems every time I increase the size of the sets the more my muscles feel it the next day. Pretty sure this is not new science, fitness readers are shaking their heads and rolling their eyes right now.

Pretty sure this is not new science, fitness readers are shaking their heads and rolling their eyes right now.

Day Twenty-Eight – Banged out 100 push-ups before lunch.

Day Twenty-Nine – Something interesting happened tonight. I was waiting for some take-away at my favourite local and I arrived and needed to wait a few minutes. I was standing around and went to clasp my hands behind my back casually… and it was an effort. Very odd. My shoulders and chest were so tight, I really struggled. I must have looked hilarious. Further reinforcing the need to stretch, but also how my body has changed. I was shocked.

Day Thirty – Wow, 30% of the way there already, and yet only 30% of the way there! Interestingly, I now find myself back to just doing 25x push-up sets four times per day. It is easy to count, easy to remember and usually happens right after I visit the toilet. Routine is key.

Day Thirty-One – Chest is starting to feel less… flabby. That’s a win.

Day Thirty-Two – Today I managed to do a set of push-ups outside, it was a private setting so don’t worry, I’m not turning into a wanker. I found the change in scenery refreshing, made the push-ups easier.

…don’t worry, I’m not turning into a wanker…

Day Thirty-Three – Today makes the one-third mark. Not really a thing.

Day Thirty-Four – To mark the occassion I made the decision to flick things back to 34-33-33 with three sessions per day. Not that difficult these days, not like it was.

Day Thirty-Five – Just finding myself keen to snack all the time, especially after my first set for the day. Argh, am I bored or is it just that I am home. I don’t think it is because I’m shredding so hard. Doubtful.

Day Thirty-Six – I did 33 push-ups after 11pm, confirmed it is unideal.

Day Thirty-Seven – After today’s 100 were done I Googled a cool diagram of the muscles used during push-ups, found it motivating.

Day Thirty-Eight – Been slack with the daily diary updates, missed a few, sorry.

Day Forty-Three – OK, this was a doozy. Today I am extremely hung over after a massive night of idiotically mixing drinks at a friends’ place over a lovely seafood dinner. Why did I do it to myself? It was beer, then champagne (we were celebrating), then beer, then a stunning Riesling, then beer again, then rum with Coke, then another beer when I got home. I deserve to feel like this, dumb ass. However, the good news is – I had not completed one single push-up until after 7pm and I got them all done before midnight. Phew.

Day Forty-Four – I forget I am in my forties now, this is day two of the same bloody hangover. Not as bad, but certainly lethargic and a lingering head ache. Push-ups were not as difficult as yesterday, but it was five sets of 20 today.

Day Forty-Five – Back on track, feeling good. Back to simple routine of three sets, thank goodness.

Day Forty-Six – Today reminds me of the timeless TooL classic ‘Forty-six and two’, so I put it on and managed 60 push-ups while listening to the one track. Not without stopping.

Day Forty-Seven – I am feeling rather deflated, I am a little sad. Today I weighed myself for the first time in nearly two months, and it turns out I have developed my own added Corona-curves! I have put on three kilograms. I have avoided the scales because I was feeling good about this challenge, I was feeling positive, optimistic and a little proud. Now I just feel fat and ugly!

I am feeling rather deflated, I am a little sad. Today I weighed myself for the first time in nearly two months… I have put on three kilograms… I was feeling positive, optimistic and a little proud. Now I just feel fat and ugly!

Day Forty-Eight – My mindset has worked through some negative feelings and has now succomb to the science of the weight gain. I am working from home and not riding my bike to work every day. I am constantly within a short stroll of our stocked fridge and pantry. Generally, I am simply not raising my heart rate as often as I was around the time of my last weigh-in. It all makes perfect sense. It is all annoyingly and logically explainable. Which is a good or bad thing depending on the perspective I choose.

Day Forty-Nine – Getting on with it, banged out 100x push-ups before lunch.

Day Fifty – Wow, I have made it to half way. What an interesting sensation? Although I feel like it is an accomplishment in itself, I also feels like it counts for nothing, yet. I am midway through a personal challenge and nobody really cares, or even knows. And I love that aspect of what I am doing. Go me, the hardest half is over now.

Day Fifty-One – Feeling good, like I am doing push-ups downhill now!

Unfortunately this is where the daily push-up journal stopped as we packed up our entire lives and relocated our family back to Melbourne. This happened in the middle of Winter and during the eye of the Coronavirus storm. I maintained the 100 push ups per day but not the daily diary entries.

Apologies.

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We spent ten days driving 3,500kms in our Mazda CX-7 and absolutely loved it, Downunder Dad post coming soon. And I managed to maintain the 100 push-ups every day without fail.

I found myself doing push-ups in supermarket carparks, playgrounds, petrol stations and mainly in various AirBnBs. I did not miss a day, I did not skip a single push-up.

When we did arrive in Melbourne and settle into our new residence I was on day 74. The final 26% of push-ups were no longer to be undertaken without any routine or pattern like those on the road trip. It was time to get back into it, making sure they were all completed each day, before having a beer.

Before the road trip I was almost doing the push-ups in secret, hiding away in the bedroom and waiting until I had the house to myself. Mrs DD was aware but she was really the only one.

One of the great aspects of finding the time and place to do 100 push-ups while travelling with the family was that our kids were full of questions when they saw what I was doing. It reached a point where my six-year-old daughter was getting involved, doing her own push-ups next to me on many occassions.

Best of all she would randomly ask me how many I had done for the day, if she could count for me and how many days I had left. Inspiring stuff.

It reached a point where my six-year-old daughter was getting involved, doing her own push-ups next to me on many occassions.

I spent one night staying at my sister’s place with her and my brother-in-law who had not seen me for over six months. She asked me when I got so buff? Hahaha, hardly. But it was sweet of her and probably true that my arms (or “guns” as she called them) had seemingly come from nowhere.

Some serious improvements in DownunderDad’s arm definition which still represents a serious lack of overall arm definition! PS – it’s hard to take a pic of your own arms and I was too embarassed to ask anyone else.

It was around day 90 that I professed to my wife that I would continue doing a certain number of push-ups after the personal Coronavirus challenge was completed. Nevertheless, as I type this I have not maintained this promise. I guess I lied.

It was is unusual to explain, but after finishing it was as though my upper body was over it.

I remember when I completed push-up number 10,000, the last of them all. I raised my arms into the air, breathed deeply and looked around for some adequate fanfare. There was no marching band, no press conference, no cheerleaders and no balloons falling from the ceiling. Nothing.

There was no marching band, no press conference, no cheerleaders and no balloons falling from the ceiling. Nothing.

Interestingly, from day 34 mostly I ran with 34-33-33 reps per set. Occassionally I would test myself and see how deep I could go with the first set of the day, but I never managed more than 45 at once.

The real struggle was diet.

Over the three months I gained three kilograms, sigh. I appreciate there are many other contributing factors, but it was a little disappointing. It is an undeniable indication that other parts of my health were lacking. I guess if nothing else it was like I was gradually increasing the weight on the barbell, haha.

Food habits and routine are not great when driving across the country. Not making excuses, just admitting the cause, which deep down is always going to be my own choices.

I managed to complete 10,000 push-ups in just over three months and I still do not look anything like The Rock.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (photo thanks to Man of Many).

The challenge did help me feel stronger and improved my posture, I am certain of that. However, in one single day it was no replacement for a gym visit.

Nevertheless, unlike a gym membership I was not making regular payments, I could get stuck into it at any time and I was exerting myself every day rather than a few times per week. Consistency was the key and it certainly had an effect.

I managed to complete 10,000 push-ups in just over three months and I still do not look anything like The Rock.

Plus the geographic flexibility proved to be beneficial.

For what it is worth, I am glad I started and even more pleased that I finished. It was a very black-and-white challenge from the outset, either I would do it or not. And I did it.

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As it turns out, here in Melbourne this COVID thing continues to rage on, thus I will be seeking a new challenge. I am open to suggestions, contact me with your ideas.

I am unsure how I will choose to spend the next chapter of my Coronavirus time at home, however I will be sure to blog about it soon enough.

One thing is for sure, as made clear by the Victorian State Government, I will not be joining a local gym anytime soon.


Downunder Dad: Independent, Aussie and Personal undefined


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