I'm really happy with the progress I've been making on the deadlift lately. It demonstrates for me what you can accomplish with a good program and some persistence. And so I decided that it was probably time to get back to working on push ups.
Push ups are second only to squats as the bane of my strength training existence. However, unlike squats, where I have a wide assortment of biomechanical and mobility issues that make it impossible for me to do the exercise with perfect form, the only thing holding me back on the push up is that the muscles needed to do it are weak. I can do a push up with perfect form - the problem is that I can do exactly one push up with perfect form.
I was actually making good (if slow) progress on push ups back before my shoulder injury. Then I pretty much had to quit doing most forms of pushing/pressing exercise while I dealt with the injury. So here I am, pretty much back at square one. Maybe not quite - I know that my abs, deltoids, and triceps are stronger than they were, but until the pectoralis major starts to catch up, that difference doesn't actually seem to translate into more push ups.
So, here is my plan for not sucking at push ups:
1) Once or twice a week, at the gym: Do 2-3 sets of as many reps as I can manage with my hands elevated on a weight bench. Then do 2-3 sets of 10 reps of negatives - this is where you start at the top part of the push up and lower yourself down slowly.
2) On other days, when not suffering from ridiculous DOMS from step 1, do at least 2 sets of 10-12 push ups with my hands elevated on the kitchen counter.
Eventually, I should progress enough so that I don't have to elevate my hands for part 1. Or even part 2.
Here's how the first week went. I discovered that I could do 2-3 good push ups with my hands elevated on the bench, so I did my 3 sets, and then did 3 sets of 10 negatives. Possibly I overdid it a bit, because I spent the next two days trying to invent ways of opening door that didn't involve straightening my arm because my triceps hurt so much.
And after that, I did my sets with my hands on the kitchen counter every day.
Went to the gym today, put my hands on the weight bench, and managed...1 push up.
This is not progress, folks. This is also not meaningful, because it's been 1 week and because strength is just weird that way. I did my sets (of 1 rep!) and then I did 2 sets of negatives. I alternated them with goblet squats, because why not do all the things you suck at together? (I think I'm actually getting better at the goblet squat.)
And then I went and knocked 5 seconds of my previous best 200m time on the rowing machine. (New best time: 55 seconds. I am under no illusions that this is impressive, but it's progress.)
So, there we have it. If my deadlift postings have left you with any kind of impression that I'm some sort of badass, know that I struggle to do push ups and will probably have trouble opening my car door from the inside tomorrow. But we all gotta start somewhere.