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Push Ups for the Academy

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  • Push Ups for the Academy

    I have a potential of going into the academy in two months, but I'm concerned about the push ups during PT. I thought for a girl I had pretty decent upper body strength, but the push ups get me every time.

    On the PT conditioning guidelines, the academy staff suggest being able to do the following one month prior to the academy:
    Calisthenics: 30 minutes (3 times per week)
    3 sets of 15-20 push-ups
    3 sets of 15-20 sit-ups
    3 sets of 15-20 crunches
    3 sets of 10 bends and thrusts
    Running 2 to 3 miles per week with a goal of a 8-minute mile pace

    My only real concerns are the push ups (right now I can't do one regular push up) and my run pace is 8:30 on the treadmill, 9 min outside.

    Any suggestions as far as the push ups go? I hired a trainer to help get me in shape back starting in January but I was not expecting the academy so soon. I am concerned about starting the academy and falling behind quickly. I will be self-sponsoring myself (unless something changes) so I can postpone the academy until beginning of next year, but I really want to avoid that if possible.

  • #2
    If your not in shape now, I'd postpone the academy. They are taught to push you in the academy, so there's a good chance you could get hurt if your not in the shape you want to be at.

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    • #3
      Experiment with the position of your arms. Go wider or narrower and see how that changes the effort needed. Others will correct me if I'm wrong, but if I recall correctly, arms wide will engage more of your chest while arms in tight will be more arms (triceps).

      Also work on core strength. A strong core will make pushing easier. Start doing planks (holding the up position of a push up) keep trying to do it for longer and longer periods of time.

      You can also try "girl" push-ups (knees on the ground) and do those until you are strong enough to do regular push ups.

      Good luck and train CAREFULLY. Push-ups are hard on your shoulders and shoulder injuries are a b**ch.
      Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum
      To err is human, but to persist is diabolical

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      • #4
        Whatever you do, do as many repetitions as possible until exhaustion of whatever exercise you are doing each time with a 30 to 60 second break between; the number of sets you do will depend on how many reps you can do. If you are using weights, scale back like 5 to 10 lbs, and then do another set until exhaustion. Keep doing this until you can't even do one rep.
        • Do modified wall/knee push ups in the narrow, military, then wide positions.
        • Do chest press; both flat and inclined.
        • Do chest flies.
        • Do tricep extensions.
        • Do shoulder presses
        • Do side laterals.
        • After exhaustion with push-ups/free weights do more using machines; now you don't have to worry as much about form, just activating the primary muscles more.
        • Once you can do one standard push-up start doing inclined push-ups in the narrow, military, then wide positions.
        • Don't train the same muscle groups two days in a row.
        • Take breaks in between sets.
        • Make sure you eat enough protein; consider whey protein powder if you can't fit that many calories into your diet.
        • Consider looking into creatine.


        For run, do interval runs with a walk/jog/sprint cycle and/or incline runs and/or stairs. You can do some weight training too, BUT a word of caution: do not go heavy, maintain perfect balance, and do not do too much considering you are already running as the risk of injury is significantly increased.

        Know your limits. Do not get hurt. However, some minor soreness/discomfort is normal when you really push yourself; this is due to muscle fiber being torn which then has to be rebuilt, thus improving strength. The first time you really push yourself it could last as much as a week, with subsequent times a lasting day or two. Do not take ibuprofen as this inhibits pain reception, which may decrease muscle growth and recovery time.

        Good luck.
        “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” ― Winston Churchill

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        • #5
          As a female also preparing for acadmey, I really appreciate the advice and can say there are a few tips mentioned here that help me hugely.

          1. Chest press (normal and incline) and shoulder press are the best things in the world. They have helped me a ton and sometimes you really need to just go lift weights. I used to hate weights (and especially the weighted section of my college gym- I am sure you can imagine the sort of company I had to keep over there), and so I avoided them like the plague and did every single body weight exercise you can imagine. Finally, I just shouldered up and did it and the results were phenomenal. I love my machines now and ignore the meatheads (no offense- some of you are lovely!).

          2. Arm position is where it's at. I still struggle at narrow, military style push ups. I understand now that maybe I have been focusing too much on chest and not enough on arm strength. But I can do sets of wide style push ups to the ground. I hope to keep working though so I can soon do both.

          3. Core strength is a huge help. As a former athlete (and current athletic instructor) abdominal and back muscles stabilize the body and can make all the difference.

          4. Protein! Don't waste your workout! Your muscles need a ton of protein to repair themselves and strengthen.

          Okay. Sorry. Long post just iterating what has been said here. But I wanted to emphasize what has really helped me in case that might help you too! Good luck (: Keep working!

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          • #6
            I am a female as well and about to get hired on with a PD who is sponsoring me through the academy. When I started PT to prep for the academy I think I could MAYBE do two normal push ups. I started out doing as many as I could "girl style" on my knees. Then after a few weeks of doing those every other day I started doing as many normal ones as I could. Slowly I built up to 5 then 10 , 15, 20. Now I can do 30 push ups no problem! It's crazy now to think back! It took me several months to get there though so take your time - push yourself but not to the point of injury because that'll just put your goals out even further. Good luck to you!

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            • #7
              I am a Personal Trainer myself, about to go into the Academy as well. One thing differently I would recommend that others haven't mentioned, along with the resistance training - do not stop doing cardio! There is a few different energy systems, and with weight training it only incorporates 1 of them (ATP - Creatine Phosphate). Keep doing your occasional runs, about 3 times a week. Outside on pavement or a trail would be more ideal than the treadmill because as you noticed - it is easier on the treadmill and you won't be training that way in the Academy. Then resistance training ~3 days a week, but keeping it cardio focused. Ex. Jump roping in between sets of flat dumbbell chest press or shoulder press / Mountain climbers, High knees. KEEP YOUR HEART FLOWING! Keep those workout days relatively short, but intense and nonstop moving.

              Aerobic and Anaerobic training. Do them both to be more well rounded and prepared.
              Last edited by deviantclarity; 04-14-2015, 12:11 PM.

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              • #8
                Thank you all for the awesome advice!

                A lot of the things listed my trainer is having me do, so it's nice to have it reaffirmed here. The other day after a rest day I went to see if I could do any pushups and I did 5 full ones about 3 inches from the ground! I was super excited and am hoping that it's easier from here on out to improve my rep count.

                deviantclarity, thank you! I have been doing just as you've said actually. The past two days I made myself go run a little over 2 miles a day in 83 degree middle of day weather. My run time sucked but I think continually going outside to run is realistically the best way to train. Also, with my trainer, he has me do workouts similar to what you're describing. For an example today was...

                12 min. 7.0 on the treadmill
                3 sets of:
                15 seated row
                10 pushups (real ones )
                10 single arm squat curl press
                50 bicycles

                3 miles on the bike at 7 resistance

                4 sets of:
                Tension band side to side
                10 burpees

                Not the hardest workout he's given me by any means but it kept my heart rate elevated the whole time and I can tell my endurance is increasing. I just hope it increases enough by June

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                • #9
                  That seems like a great routine you had that day! Keep training on your off days you aren't with him also. Fuel your body with the right foods and you will be set. You have two months.
                  You can do it! You have to believe in yourself! Because during the Academy, it is a lot of mental stress too - even for the people in shape.

                  For the past few years, I've been huge into lifting weights. But my endurance long runs really drag on (as I mentioned it is a different energy system). So to prepare, I've been running trails myself and always keeping in mind - I'm not going to get through the academy if I stop. Get through this run. Even if you going at a really slow pace - keep it moving! From what I hear, the academy instructors don't necessarily look for the capability, but EFFORT. Not giving up.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by deviantclarity View Post

                    Aerobic and Anaerobic training. Do them both to be more well rounded and prepared.
                    I quoted and bolded this for emphasis to anyone reading this in the future.

                    YOU CAN NOT FORGET ANAEROBIC training. I have been surprised at how many people didn't know what that even meant, so I am going to give my simple explanation for anyone else that might not really understand.

                    Heart health is important. There are 2 types of heart health - sustained heart health, and accelerated heart health. Sustained heart health is when your heart rate climbs and is sustained for a while - like when you run distance/jog - aerobic health.

                    Accelerated heart health is when you just jump up and sprint across the yard - anaerobic health. Your heart doesn't climb to a high heart rate, it just jumps like a bolt of lightning. Do this - just jump up and run about 20 yards as hard and fast as you can. If your heart is pounding out of your chest, you vision is blurred, your head is pounding, and you feel like throwing up - you need to work on anaerobic health. Since more of what we do is sudden spur of the moment actions, anaerobic health is more critical than aerobic health( in my opinion). Its WHY you hear of people dying during training. If you don't have good anaerobic health, it is very very hard on your heart to do an anaerobic exercise. The more anaerobically fit your heart is, the more energy and strength you will gain throughout your body through better blood flow and oxidation.


                    Ok, so I will get off of my soap box now. I have made it somewhat of a personal mission to express the importance of the often forgotten about anaerobic health topic. Your heart is the key to fitness period. Its the first muscle that should be strengthened.


                    Got that off my chest, I feel better now!

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