Get in Shape with Push-Ups

Grade 9 was quite an experience. I remember it vividly – a new school, new classmates, and new teachers. One teacher in particular stood out more than the others. He was the physical education teacher and his name was Mr. Carter. Think of him as a military sergeant in sweats. This guy whipped us into shape by the end of the school year. He did it by giving us push-ups, lots of them!

Mr. Carter was a hardcore teacher. He did not fool around. It started with the very first class. Someone’s shirt was not tucked into their track pants. Mr. Carter made us drop to the floor and do 10 push-ups. Someone else made a wisecrack in the process and that cost us another 10 push-ups. There was a guy who thought that he could get away with quarter reps. You guessed it, 10 more!

It went on like this the whole year. Mind you, people smartened up after a while so it wasn’t quite as bad, but you can bet that we were doing around 100 push-ups a class near the beginning.

The result of all this disciplinary action was quite stunning! Every single student in that class was leaner and stronger by the end of that school year. I’m sure that raging teenage hormones were part of the process, but there’s no doubt that the high volume of push-ups played a big role.

Push-ups work the upper body dynamically and the core statically. It’s a great closed kinetic chain movement that hits many muscles in the body and you don’t need any fancy equipment to do it.

There are a number of push-up variations. Here are some suggestions to make push-ups easier or more challenging depending on your current strength level:

For methods to improve the number of push-ups you can perform, see page 122 of The Elite Trainer.

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