The Essential Upper-Body Resistance Exercise
The pushup is known as a basic form of exercise that strains muscles in the chest, shoulder, arms and core. It is the essential upper-body resistance exercise, even though it doesn't require gym equipment. The pushup motion targets several muscle groups above the waist and has been scientifically tested to be an effective strength-building exercise. The repetitive body-weight movement of pushups causes fatigue, forcing the body to release lactic acid, which is what produces that burning-like sensation in working muscles during exercise. The rate at which someone is able to perform pushups without becoming exhausted is a strong indicator of physical fitness level.
How Many Should You Be Able to Do?
While it's difficult to define what it means to be "fit" in comparison to being "out of shape," due to individual notions of what is indeed a satisfactory level of physical fitness, pushups help to calculate rate of strength development. You can track your strength gains simply by performing as many pushups as possible in a 30-second time frame. The average person will endure fatigue after 30 seconds of continuous pushup activity. This test is a solid foundation for measuring your physical fitness level. It's also a fun method of engaging in friendly competition with friends at the gym.
Young adults are naturally more capable of achieving a high number of pushups in a given time period than middle-aged adults in their 40s and 50s. It's important to understand what your body is naturally capable of so that you can set realistic expectations for performance in physical fitness tests while also maintaining attainable goals. According to Craig Ballantyne, founder of Turbulence Training and contributor to Men's Health, a male under the age of 45 is considered out of shape if he is unable to perform at least 20 pushups in 30 seconds, whereas a man of the same age is considered "fit" if he can execute 35 to 49 pushups in the same amount of time.
If you find that you're unable to satisfy Ballantyne's plateau of what it means to be "fit," set a goal for steady muscular improvement. Attempt to achieve multiple sets of 10 pushups while resting for 20 to 30 seconds in between sets. This will naturally help you perform more pushups over time, which will consequently improve your upper body strength. Make pushups an integrated exercise of your regular workout regimen and continuously track your results until accomplishing your ultimate goal. Don't hesitate to challenge yourself and remember that you're capable of accomplishing whatever exercise goal you set for yourself, so as long as you maintain a positive outlook and make realistic expectations.
John Shea is a team sports fanatic and fitness aficionado. His work has been published across a wide platform of online audiences in the realm of health and fitness. His passion for fitness is exemplified in his writing, as he aims to help readers improve their overall well-being.