Stick-arms No More: The Hundred Pushup Challenge

I'm a nerd.  I over think everything, and try to reduce everything into a system of abstractions.  I hate sports.  I love video games.  I get sunburn easily.  So, by my early 30s I'd ballooned to a very unhealthy 270 pounds, with a rate of gain that set 300 in my near future.

So I started exercising and watching what I ate.  The pounds melted away, and I felt much better.  Only something strange happened to my body.  My exercise of choice is running.  Over the last few months I've found I have very strong, muscular legs.  My legs look better than they ever have in my life.  The only problem is they are attached to my still pudgy midsection and the tiny stick-arms I had as a teenager.  In terms of measurements, I've lost more than 3 inches from my arms since I started running.

Some of that was fat, but most of it was muscle.  Everything I've read says that running burns fat–and muscle.  In my chest and arms I've burned a lot of fat and a lot of muscle too.  There's not much left.

I tried the gym, but I'm too weak in my upper body and my core to perform exercises with any kind of form.  I got discouraged.

Then I remembered I'd been here before.  There was a time–just last year-that running any distance seemed impossible.  The key was a gentle, steady difficulty progression in the form of Couch to 5k.  Surely there must be some similar system for starting from zero in the muscle fitness world.

I scoured the Internet for an answer.  A surprising set of exercises appeared as well-researched tools for building full-body strength: push-ups, crunches and pull-ups.  Here's the problem: I was too weak to do more than a few push ups, or any pull-ups at all.  I hate crunches.  Still, I have to start somewhere and push ups seem the most doable.

I found a system that many of my fellow nerds reported success with: hundredpushups.  The program is designed to take you to doing 100 push ups without stopping in 7 weeks.  You start with an assessment to see how many good form push ups you can do without stopping, and then enter one of 4 tracks based on how many you did.

With a grand total of 5 pushups, I made into the lowest possible zone.

Doing 5 push ups won't build strength fast enough to make progress that encourages you to continue, so the program has you do sets of push ups with rests.  On Monday I did 12 push ups.  On Wednesday I did 16.  On Friday I pushed to 22.

Today I started week two with 24 push ups.  I feel stronger already.  Week 1 was easy and I didn't have much soreness.  Today was tough, and I feel a little weak today, but like my c25k experience, I didn't stop when I wanted to.

Sadly, there is no "runner's high" with these workouts.  On the positive side, it takes less than 10 minutes.

I'm also doing 45 crunches a day to try and build more core strength.  Hopefully these two routines will make me strong enough to actually go to a gym.

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