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Pushups as a Fitness Regulator

By Gary Picariello

Don't kid yourself: You can spend countless hours in the gym pumping iron and still not be very fit! Sounds crazy, I know, but it's always good to have a feel of your overall current level of fitness. An easy way to do that is seeing how many push-ups you can knock out in a 30 seconds. 

Granted, specific physiological factors do play a part in dictating what your body is capable of, but push-ups are a clear-cut way to test your physical fitness and it doesn't cost a thing except maybe a litle effort on your part.

The Essential Upper-Body Resistance 

The push-up is the original resistance exercise that strains muscles in the chest, shoulders, arms and core. The repetitive body-weight movement that is unique to the push-up causes muscle fatigue which forces the body to release lactic acid, which in turn is what produces that burning-like sensation when pumping iron and squeezing out that last repetition. The rate at which someone is able to perform push-ups without becoming exhausted is a strong indicator of one's physical fitness level.

How Many

While it's difficult to define what it means to be "fit" in comparison to being "out of shape," due to individual notions of what is indeed a satisfactory level of physical fitness, push-ups help calculate the rate of strength development. You can track your strength gains simply by performing as many push-ups as possible in a 30-second time frame. The average person will endure fatigue after 30 seconds of continuous pushup activity.

Keep in mind that y
oung adults are naturally more capable of achieving a high number of push-ups in a given time period than middle-aged adults in their 40s and 50s. It's important to understand what your body is naturally capable of doing. 

According to Craig Ballantyne, founder of Turbulence Training and contributor to Men's Health, a male under the age of 45 is considered out of shape if he is unable to perform at least 20 pushups in 30 seconds, whereas a man of the same age is considered "fit" if he can execute 35 to 49 pushups in the same amount of time.

How Fit are YOU?

So give this simple test a try and let the results dictate the direction of what you should be doing in the gym. You're capable of accomplishing whatever exercise goal you set for yourself but this should allow to focus on what exercises are important!


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