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100 push-ups, vertical edition – Week 1, first try

This is a status report for progress on my own vertical version of the 100 push-ups program. To see what this is all about and what rules I’ve set for myself, please check the original post from January 5th.

Week 1 – Performance
Since I performed 14 handstand push-ups in the initial test, I placed myself in the most advanced column of the program (in hindsight, it might have been better to disregard this and start with the easiest one instead). All weeks consist of three days exercise with five sets each day. First day was 10, 12, 7, 7, 9, which worked out alright; I even managed to pull of 12 in the last set. Second day was 10, 12, 8, 8, 12, and while far from easy, I still managed this without extreme difficulty. Third day was 11, 15, 9, 9, 13, which turned out to be too much. I failed the second set with 2 to go and the last set with 3 to go.

Week 1 – Evaluation
I’ve learnt a few things from this first week. Most importantly, I shouldn’t focus too much on the numbers and be careful to stop before failure. On the last day, I felt some bad tension in my back, which was not improved by the extreme strain during the second and fifth set. There is a fair chance that I will complete the first week on my second try, but I have to take it easy and not overdo it. Even if I spend the whole month doing just week 1, it will still be worthwhile exercise as long as I’m smart about it. Overdoing a specific set also greatly reduces the capacity for the following sets.

Another thing I’ve learnt is how to counter the strain on the lower back. I have two solution for this problem (it’s a big problem for me, sometimes). Firstly, tensing the glutes and abdomen will help greatly, which will come as no surprise to those who are already well versed in the art of handbalancing, but it’s very important. Don’t just tense them a little bit, but conscously think about tensing them as much as possible. Secondly, I have found that doing some sit-ups, jack-knives or similar exercises greatly help releasing the tension in the back. I do these in between the sets of push-ups.

That’s all for this week, I think. I have 15 sets to complete, and I hope four days of almost complete rest (Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon) is enough to recuperate fully. I hope I’ll be able to complete week 1 on the second attempt, but preventing injury and allowing for healthy muscle development is of course top priority.

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