A Month of 1 Arm Pushups

I don’t remember where I read or who wrote a story about a month of pushups challenge, but it stuck in my head, THANK YOU! After I read the story I started telling a few people about the challenge and some of my clients decided they would take on the challenge.  The challenge is very simple you do 1 pushup on the 1st, 2 pushups on the 2nd, 3 pushups on the 3rd… 30 pushups on the 30th.  I think you get the picture, here are the rules.

  • You don’t have to do them all at once, you just need to accumulate the corresponding number for that day.
  • They are to be done completely separate from your other training… so if you have pushups in your program they don’t count for the day.
  • Ideally you are going to choose a pushup that you can currently only do 5reps or less.  So time to get creative.
  • If you can’t do 1 pushup you can do a month of knee pushups.
  • Just a quick reminder that a pushup means your face is nearly touching the ground… if you can’t get that deep you now have a month to work on getting that deep.

So for the month of September 2011 I decided to take on this challenge and chose the 1 Arm Pushup, meaning 1 Right 1 Arm Pushup and 1 Left 1 Arm Pushup on Oct 1st.  I took pushups completely out of my other training and only did them during my sword fighting class at Academie Duello and when demonstrating for clients.  Here are the numbers:

0 – The number of 1 Arm Pushups I had ever completed before July 7, 2011.

9 – The number of 1 Arm Pushups I had completed before August 31, 2011.

55 – The number of 1 Arm Pushups I completed between September 1, 2011 and September 10, 2011 (first 10 days).

155 – The number of 1 Arm Pushups I completed between September 11, 2011 and September 20, 2011 (middle 10 days).

255 – The number of 1 Arm Pushups I completed between September 21, 2011 and September 30, 2011 (final 10 days).

465 – The total number of 1 Arm Pushups I completed during September 2011.

Some Fun Numbers:

135 – The number of pounds I was able to press overhead on my second ever time doing Olympic Bar Overhead presses.  The first time I did them was in July 2011 and I was able to press 115lbs… thank you 1 Arm Pushups and Kettlebell Pressing, and to reference Dan John I think this is my Max Max for now.

456 – The increase in the total volume of 1 arm pushups in one month compared to the rest of my life… or 50x more.

3 – The number of face plants I did.

4 – The score I would give myself out of 10 on the quality of my 1 Arm Pushup prior to September 2011.

7 – The score I would give myself out of 1o on the quality of my 1 Arm Pushup now, there is still work to be done as you can see in the video below that was filmed on September 30, 2011.

To keep things interesting and to see how I improved I tried a few different rep schemes, here they are.

Alternating Singles – Right arm, left arm, right arm, left arm…  on day 7 I did them all like this, they weren’t pretty at the end but got them done for the day.

Countdown – 3 right arm, 3 left arm, 2 right arm, 2 left arm, 1 right arm, 1 left arm.  This and the alternating singles were my go to rep schemes… but of course I first had to prove I could do 3 in a row.  I was able to do a couple countdowns from 5 to 1.

Pyramid – 1left arm, 1 right arm, 2 left arm, 2 right arm, 3 left arm, 3 right arm.  I didn’t do this very often, and 2 times I did a pyramid up and a countdown down.

Straight Reps – 5 right arm, 5 left arm.  I only did 5 straight a few times but 5 was my max where I believed if I went to number 6 I would make it but it wouldn’t be pretty.

During the challenge I wrote things down, I kept a journal to track my progress.  Here are a few interesting notes:

  • I alternated between starting with right and left arms and found that the arm I started on wasn’t as good during the first few reps but when I switched hands the other side was much better.
  • I spent the first week figuring out the best hand and feet positions.
  • I spent the end of the second week and the beginning of the third week playing with different positions with the free arm.
  • My best 1 Arm Pushups were when I could create the most tension throughout my body.
  • My left arm was way smoother then my right arm.
  • The middle 10 days were when I felt the best about my technique.
  • The last 10 days I felt strong but I had to battle to get the numbers in, so my technique wasn’t as consistent.
  • I got stuck at the bottom a couple of times and after a few face plants I figured out positions to get my body to get back up.
  • On Sept 24th, 2011 I decided that I would do 8 sets of 3 alternating singles throughout the day to get my 24 reps, I started re-watching the New Zealand v France Rugby World Cup match and started doing my pushups and some mobility work between sets and by the time the game was over I had knocked out all my pushups for the day.  Reminded me of being a kid and watching sports and practicing skills.  It felt more like play than a planned and structured training session, very fun.
  • It was on the above day that I decided what my Month of… challenge for October was going to be, stay tuned.
  • As the month went on I had to start planning my pushups around my day.  Get a countdown first thing in the morning, do some alternating singles between clients, and finish with some straight sets before bed.
  • I started telling people about the challenge and recruiting people to take part in the challenge in October.
  • Also when I was telling people I would usually show them a 1 Arm Pushup and bang there is 1 rep for the day.
  • The time when I had to do regular pushups I felt much stronger than before.

It was a fun month, I set a measurable goal with clear actions and a deadline and I achieved it.  This is a simple challenge but it isn’t easy and I would like to extend the challenge to everyone who reads this blog post to pick one of these months: October 2011, November 2011 or December 2011 and complete the Month of Pushups Challenge and get back to me and let me know how it worked out for you.  Keep a journal, take a video, and write a story about what you discovered and I will be more than happy to share it with all the other blog readers out there.  Good luck and looking forward to hearing your story!
Josh Neumann, BHK
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook