Thursday, January 10, 2013

T-Nation: The Four-Minute Push-Up Challenge

I found this "challenge" at T-Nation. It's pretty straight forward - do as many push ups, in good form, as you can in 4 minutes. From Martin Rooney – 12/31/2012.

The Rules
  • Begin the test in the up position.
  • Start the timer before the first descent.
  • For a rep to count, you must go all the way down until the elbow is at least at a 90-degree angle (chest 2 inches off the floor) and lock out the elbows at the top. The core must stay locked and move up and down with every rep using the toes as the fulcrum of the movement.
  • You can rest/stop whenever you want, but the clock must keep running.
  • Poor reps in terms of body position or putting down a knee before a rep is completed don't count toward the total score.
  • Stop counting when 4 minutes have elapsed and record your score.
When I first read this article I thought, "No problem, I should be able to get 100 reps in 3 to 3:30 minutes." It's always a good lesson in humility to seriously over-estimate one's skills or abilities.

So I tried the test this morning (in my defense, I had just finished 10 miles of big gear intervals on my spinner, on nothing more than 6 grams of BCAA and some coffee).

First set, 35 reps. Thinking, "Damn this is gonna be easy - maybe get 100 in under 3 minutes."
Second set, 15 reps. Thinking, "Wow, that was a huge drop-off."
Third set, 10 reps. "Shit!"
Fourth set, 6 reps.
Fifth set, 5 reps. "Holy hell!"
Sixth set, 5 reps.
Seventh set, 3 reps.
Eighth set, 3 reps. Worried, "Hell, I might not even get 100 in four minutes."
Next several sets, 2-3 reps.

Total reps: 100 -- Total time: 4:01

Rooney's Rating Scale
  • Below Average: Under 49
  • Average: 50-84
  • Good: 85-109
  • Excellent: 110-139
  • Extraordinary: 140+
If you try this and are also humbled by it, Rooney offers some excellent tips to increase your ability on this challenge. I found it humbling, and even though I often do 100 push-ups in a workout (since I really don't bench press anymore), I am sure I will be sore tomorrow. Those last few sets of 2-3 reps were complete failure - very humbling.

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