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  • How often should I lift?

    So...I'm desperate to improve my upper body strength. It's really, really shitty right now--to the point where if we have to do 50 pushups in a row, I have to do them against the wall because I can't do 50 correctly on a box. Since I don't have a lot of extra time to workout any more than I already do, I'm thinking that I'll just start doing a couple pushups whenever I can at work or at home, against a counter or desk. Would daily, random pushups like that be helpful to my goal of improving my upper body strength or would it be detrimental because I won't be giving the muscle groups sufficient rest to recover? Is the whole--you shouldn't lift weights two days in a row thing true, or is it just BS conventional wisdom?

    My journal

  • #2
    There are many, many opinions about that. They range from complex schedules 3x/week (or even more with alternating upper and lower body routines) all the way to the "high intensity training (HIT)" method detailed in Body by Science, with one short very intense workout per week. I'm doing the HIT at a studio called SuperSlow but my wife said she would totally hate doing high intensity. If you take your muscles to full momentary muscle failure, once to at most twice a week seems be fairly well documented in sports literature but there are dissenting voices out there. For pushups an interesting experiment might be to do slow pushups (five-ten seconds down, five-ten up with not even a heartbeat of rest; keep the tension on) to failure, once, once a week, and see what happens. See bodybyscience.net for videos, baye.com has some good articles.

    If you really want something else, anything you do is likely to be better than nothing and doing a few pushups here and there will not HURT you! Good luck.
    10/2/12: 169 lbs, 37"waist
    Now: low 150's, 33" waist
    Blog: http://paleopathologist.com/

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    • #3
      I do bench one day, pull the next, pushups the next, then pullup assistance, pushups, pullup exercises. Usually I end up needing a day off in there somewhere, so that makes 7 days.

      On pushup day I start with 25 regular pushups, do declines at 2 different levels 15 each, pike pushups regular and decline, side-to-side pushups, and some handstand work.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jmsmall View Post
        There are many, many opinions about that. They range from complex schedules 3x/week (or even more with alternating upper and lower body routines) all the way to the "high intensity training (HIT)" method detailed in Body by Science, with one short very intense workout per week. I'm doing the HIT at a studio called SuperSlow but my wife said she would totally hate doing high intensity. If you take your muscles to full momentary muscle failure, once to at most twice a week seems be fairly well documented in sports literature but there are dissenting voices out there. For pushups an interesting experiment might be to do slow pushups (five-ten seconds down, five-ten up with not even a heartbeat of rest; keep the tension on) to failure, once, once a week, and see what happens. See bodybyscience.net for videos, baye.com has some good articles.

        If you really want something else, anything you do is likely to be better than nothing and doing a few pushups here and there will not HURT you! Good luck.
        Thanks! That Body by Science site has some interesting reads. Man, I miss the days when I had unlimited access to academic journals. I could spend hours a day on PubMed researching any given subject. I was never interested in exercise physiology in those days, unfortunately.

        My journal

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        • #5
          I agree with jmsmall and I've gotten excellent results with a BBS type protocol over the past year. And I also agree that anything is better than nothing.

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          • #6
            If you are building strength, then yes, heavy weights for low reps is the way to go.

            If you want to increase reps, then doing lots and lots of small sets throughout the day will really help. This will help your strength as well. Check out one hundred push ups - welcome for a pretty good program.

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            • #7
              Agreeing with jmsmall that there are numerous opinions and philosophies on this. I have seen people do 50 pull-ups a day, no matter how many sets or how late in the day, 5 days a week, take 2 days off. When it it only takes you 3 sets to finish, make it 75. Recon Ron Pull Up program also has you doing pull-ups daily 5 days a week. Military Athlete USMC PFT Program has you doing pull-ups 5 days a week. Now while I am talking about pull-ups and you are talking about push-ups, the principles are the same. If you want to improve your push-ups, you have to do push-ups. If you are looking for a program to follow to increase your push-ups, I recommend Military Athlete APFT program. There will be running, sit-ups and push-ups in there. Just remember to give yourself a break when you need it.

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              • #8
                Echoing the above, a few pushups here and there is a great way to improve numbers - and strength.

                The trick is to remember to do them!

                But after a month of randomly doing small sets of 3-5 throughout the day (say about 5-7 sets per day), you should see a dramatic increase in your ability. Apparently, this sort of consolidation training gets your nerves and muscles used to the motion - and a fair amount of strength comes from such practice (particularly early on).

                Good luck!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by serenity View Post
                  So...I'm desperate to improve my upper body strength. It's really, really shitty right now--to the point where if we have to do 50 pushups in a row, I have to do them against the wall because I can't do 50 correctly on a box. Since I don't have a lot of extra time to workout any more than I already do, I'm thinking that I'll just start doing a couple pushups whenever I can at work or at home, against a counter or desk. Would daily, random pushups like that be helpful to my goal of improving my upper body strength or would it be detrimental because I won't be giving the muscle groups sufficient rest to recover? Is the whole--you shouldn't lift weights two days in a row thing true, or is it just BS conventional wisdom?
                  A novice strength program that includes the bench press and the standing press will work more effectively to enable you to do sets of 50 pushups than just doing pushups. The reasoning is that strength drives strength endurance, not the other way around. Most novice programs I'm familiar with have you lifting 3 days per week, with the bench press included every other workout.
                  The Champagne of Beards

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                  • #10
                    I second the 100 push ups program. I did it and it really improved my push-up count.
                    However, that's said, when you say improving the UB strength, what do you mean. There are a lot of muscles in the upper body, and it is important to figure out which one slows you down. Regular push-up is often carried on by chest and bicep, particularly in us, gals.
                    What I found that needed strengthening to improve my UB lifts (as laughable as they are) are:

                    triceps via pull-ups, OHPs (pull-ups in my view is the most effective excersise for a typical women because it hits exactly the muscules that are the weakest for us)
                    Upper back: back rows and reverse pull-ups
                    delts - there is a an astounding tri-set of the straight forward rise, OHP and a straight row that helps; delt raises also help
                    all the back muscles and transverses and obscure subscapulras etc: pulley machine front pull, kneeling chop and kneeling x-body raise and Turkish Get Ups with a KB. Those are side balancing work, so one side may be significantly weaker, and needs 3-4 sets more than the other side.... That last set of stuff has a GREAT write-up in the 4-Hour body in the side balancing and rehab chapters, it did feel very useful. I went from being barely able to do 3 TGUs with 8 lbs (yep, I am confessing that) to churning out 5 sets of 5s on each side with 10 lbs, and going to switch to 15 actually this Saturday.

                    I know that may sound like a BS, but until I tried that balancing I had no clue just how much I favor my right side, particularly because my left wrist is my weak point and injures easily.

                    And having the weak back is also a biggie imo. Until the PT set me for the back BB rows and re-set me to straight pull on the DB back row I was pulling with my legs or biceps.

                    Another thing that I instinctively feel is helpful is the overhead bar walks. I like those in particular because they are not low impact, but they give those shoulders a lot to think about.

                    Anyway, give it a shot!

                    EDIT: So sorry about sounding like a gashing idiot, but, boy, I dunno why, I love this stuff.
                    Last edited by Leida; 04-26-2013, 06:19 AM.
                    My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
                    When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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                    • #11
                      Over the years I've experimented with all types of training from triathlon to crossfit. Its my personal experience that weight training is by far the fastest way to change the look of your body. Combine weight training with the Paleo/Primal diet and you have the best possible combination. What works best for me is training body parts twice a week along with two interval workouts at the track. Here is my current workout, I'm usually working out in the gym for about 45 minutes per session, take a 1 minute rest between sets, and use supersets to intensify the workout. Keep in mind this is not a beginner routine but it can be modified to any level of strength and conditioning:

                      Mondays and Thursdays - Chest and Back (Flat and Incline BB Bench Press, Pullups, Seated Pully Row, Supine DB Laterals, One Arm DB Row, Dips and DB Stiff Arm Pullovers)

                      Tuesday and Fridays - Morning - Shoulders and Arms (Seated DB Press, DB Lateral Raises, Bent over DB Laterals, DB Curls, Tricep Pressdowns, Scott Curls, Tricep Pushbacks) - Afternoon - Intervals at the track 10 X100 meter sprints

                      Wednesdays and Saturdays - Legs (Squats, Hack Squats, Thigh Extensions, Leg Curls, Calf Raises)

                      Sunday - Rest Day
                      Last edited by canuck416; 04-26-2013, 06:58 AM.
                      Recent Blog: http://www.peakperformanceradio.net/...y-john-saville

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I think I'm going to try doing super slow pushups and otherwise just do pushups whenever I remember to. i do do other kinds of upper body workouts as well (at Crossfit). I just wanted to find something that I can do on top of my regular workouts to sort of speed things along.

                        Leida--I'm definitely going to check out the 4-Hour Body. I strongly favor my right side as well, and it's become really noticeable and concerning lately. In fact, it's gotten so bad that sometimes only my right arm would be sore. That just means that my right side would keep getting stronger and my left side relatively weaker. This obviously can't go on.

                        My journal

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                        • #13
                          I think when you are at a point where doing any pushups or just a few is really hard that you can make a lot of progress just doing pushups whenever you can, against a desk or normal or whatever you can do, and working on them specifically. Sure the weight lifting and other stuff is a huge help, but you can also get the ball rolling just working specifically on pushups.
                          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                          • #14
                            Push-ups variations are excellent for overall strength development and it's usually not necessary to start with bench press before outgrowing the potential in that exercise...
                            "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                            - Schopenhauer

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
                              Push-ups variations are excellent for overall strength development and it's usually not necessary to start with bench press before outgrowing the potential in that exercise...
                              Ah, the novice effect. Riding a bicycle will make your pushup maxes go up if you're a completely detrained individual. That doesn't mean that bicycling is the most efficient way to increase your pushup capability. The most efficient way to induce strength endurance is to provide a stimulus for the adaptation of strength, and work on strength endurance afterwards, since the former is hard to get and persistent, the latter easily achieved and fleeting.
                              The Champagne of Beards

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