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Push Ups are my nemesis

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  • Push Ups are my nemesis

    Anyone have success with improving pushups by greasing the groove? I've been eating primal (actually autoimmune Paleo) for a year, so I have the diet down. But I'm new to primal fitness and push-ups are hard (so are planks and most likely pull-ups - I don't have a pull-up bar). I can do about 20 regular pushups before collapsing so that puts me in the hand/knee push-up category - I can do about 40 of those. Over the weekend, on my non LHT days, I decided to grease the groove by doing random sets of 10 regular pushups throughout the day - one day I did 130 and Sunday I did 180. Today, which is a LHT day, I regressed on my hand knee pushups to only being able to do 30. Is it too soon to see any improvement - probably yes. Should I continue to grease the groove on my off days? How long until I can see improvement? (I'm not overweight - I get concerned that Im underweight and want to put on 10-15 lbs of lean muscle.)
    "On a snow covered mountain time stands still and clarity enters the mind"
    "I want to find out what happens if I don't give up"

  • #2
    You're not going to put on maximum muscle doing bodyweight stuff. And doing the same exercise 2 days in a row is less than productive.
    The Champagne of Beards


    • #3
      20 regular pushups isn't bad. Just do a few sets and see if you can do more than last time. Give yourself adequate recovery time between each day you do the pushups (every day might be too often.)
      Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


      • #4
        First, I agree that bodyweight stuff isn't going to do much for adding mass. That plus diet is what your LHT is for.

        I disagree about daily training though - if your goal is to do more pushups. I'm not sure about your chances of success if you're trying to increase pushups and increase muscle mass at the same time though.

        I've always struggled with upper body strength. I think it stems from a childhood shoulder injury. Most of my life (I'm mid-40's) I've never been able to do more than 10-12 pushups. I wanted to increase that, so I used the GTG (grease the groove) protocol.

        First, I tested on a Saturday. I'd been doing the Simple & Sinister workout and had build some decent strength (for me), and had a fairly low bodyweight. So, I was able to do 15 pushups.

        I basically followed the GTG plan, doing about half that max in each set (8 per set), and did 5-7 sets per day, spread out over the day. Mostly in the morning and evening (not at work), but had a good 20-30 minute rest between each set.

        The following week I tested with 18 pushups. So, the next week I did the same thing, but doing sets of 9.

        The following week I tested with 20 pushups. The plan would have been to continue with sets of 10.

        Then life intervened and I haven't really been able to get back to it. But given my history, I was very happy going from 15 to 20 pushups in two weeks.

        Because I only did half my max in each set, and there was so much rest between sets, I went nowhere near failure. Because of this, I didn't see any negative effects on my Simple & Sinister sessions, and I don't think it would interfere with your LHT training.

        All that said, if you're doing as many as 18 sets of 10 spread over the day (to get to the 180 you mentioned), that may be too many, and may interfere with LHT. I probably wouldn't do more than 8-10 sets spread over the day, and probably no sets for an hour or so before and after your LHT. Try testing your max pushups once a week.

        Pushups are a great exercise, and can build some lean muscle. But if you're doing LHT training with deadlifts, squats, and presses, that will be more effective for building lean mass IMO. I'm not a trainer or anything, but I was happy with my results and can see that it would have gone farther had I been able to stick with it longer. Plus as I mentioned, I saw no negative effects on my other training. And I've seen others report similar results.

        Also, I'm not sure why you're doing knee pushups - especially if you can do 20 regular pushups.



        • #5
          I highly recommend that you use pushup stands or just use dumbells is they are the kind with a flat sides.
          here's the deal. The traditional pushup puts your hands kicked back at an almost 90 degree angle and putting massing strain on your wrist. My using stand or your hand stays firm with knuckles pointed towards the floor. just think about it and you will see what I am talking about. It will greatly increase your pushup performance, you can vary the stance by moving the stands, wide, normal, military, etc... Plus your wrists will love you for it


          • #6
            Grease-the-groove is turning into that stupid ass term "hack". I'm left scratching my head regarding why everyone seems to know about it seemingly overnight. Does this shit evolve on Reddit forums or something?


            Practicing the mechanics of something to keep the coordination of motor units sharp is one thing. Some things are on the technical side. Squatting, for instance. Even then the returns are diminishing once you've done them enough.

            Push ups are simple though. Not much to cue and coordinate

            That and people have their sweet spots regarding the rep range which agrees with them.

            I think most people in general would have a much more sustainable run of progress with bench pressing somewhere in that 5-10 rep range while adding resistance. Progress which would very rapidly eclipse the grind of adding reps to push-ups in the 20+ range.


            • #7
              I first learned about GTG well over 10 years ago. I first used it for pullups and it worked well - again, for me.

              For pushups, I had far better success with GTG than training pushups like a normal lift (3 sets of 10, 3 times per week, or whatever).

              I don't think GTG is appropriate for all exercises, but it seems to work well where the goal is higher reps (like pushups, pullups). While higher reps may not be the best general goal, I don't question other people's goals. I wanted to be able to do more pushups simply because I'd never been able to do many pushups.

              Also, some people want to increase their pushup/pullup numbers because of an upcoming physical test, for police, EMT, or military service.

              I can agree all day that a bench press program is overall better than a pushup program. But at the end of the day, if a person has to be able to perform 50 pushups or whatever in order to pass a physical test (say a job depends on it), or they simply want to do 50 pushups, then they're going to want to get good at doing 50 pushups.

              So again, I'll probably always say that a good strength training program of the basics (deadlift, squat, bench, etc.) is best for most people to gain lean mass and strength. It can also go a long way in building a strength base for doing pushups.

              But if a person's goal is to do more pushups, GTG is a good system to use.

              Did I mention that all this GTG stuff I'm talking about here is if the goal is to do more pushups (or pullups)? I wouldn't recommend GTG as a general exercise system, or for building muscle.



              • #8
                ^JP is pretty spot-on. Doing sets that aren't taxing, in terms of total numbers, is a good way to get more proficient at them. I did 1,000 pushups in a day one Sunday, out of curiosity, without affecting my recovery or my workout the next day. I just did a whole bunch of sets of 10 (10 pushups for me is inconsequential and easy) spread out over the course of the day. Didn't even make me tired or anything.

                That said, you can probably more effectively increase your pushups just by doing a good weight training program. A friend contacted me recently to ask for help in preparing for a standardized fitness test, where pushups are included. I recommended a barbell strength program as the base, and then test-specific accessory work. I was curious about what my general pushup ability was, since I couldn't remember the last time I had even done a bunch of pushups, so I dropped right there started doing them. I got to something like 35 before I even started slowing down, and called it good since I had to lift the next day.

                Doing pushups will make you better at doing pushups, but getting just stronger will help even more.


                • #9
                  Random memory: doing push-ups with girls standing on my back....having never actually done push-ups as a structured workout. Ever.

                  Strength is better than practicing to be strong.


                  • #10
                    10 years ago? So...1989?



                    • #11
                      Thanks for the feedback. My primary goal is to be able to do a set of 50 pushups without rest, just so I can do it. My secondary goal is to get stronger. And lastly, put on lean muscle mass. If I achieve goal 1, I'd assume I'd also get stronger. Gaining lean muscle mass would be a nice to have, but bulking up is not the main goal.
                      "On a snow covered mountain time stands still and clarity enters the mind"
                      "I want to find out what happens if I don't give up"


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Eich View Post
                        10 years ago? So...1989?

                        ??? Not sure what you mean by this.

                        I was just saying that (for me), GTG isn't an "overnight" thing I read about on Reddit. Honestly I don't even know when I first heard about it. In fact, it was probably the early days of the Dragon Door forum, around 2000-ish.

                        I'm sure the idea of multiple, low-intensity sets spread out over the day has been around for decades. Grease the Groove just became a common name for it.



                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DavidA View Post
                          Thanks for the feedback. My primary goal is to be able to do a set of 50 pushups without rest, just so I can do it. My secondary goal is to get stronger. And lastly, put on lean muscle mass. If I achieve goal 1, I'd assume I'd also get stronger. Gaining lean muscle mass would be a nice to have, but bulking up is not the main goal.
                          You definitely won't have to worry about bulking up !

                          Once you achieve your ' Bragging rights ' goal of 50 push-ups, perform them on two hex DB's or push-up bars and squeeze in hard with your hands throughout the set, this should drop your reps to well below 10 but will significantly stimulate more muscle.


                          • #14
                            people have built sufficient muscle on bodyweight.
                            Just depends on what your take is of sufficient.

                            Push ups, pullups, dips - repeat.
                            Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.