Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Push-up test helps inform goals

By Reggie Palma


It's the Year of the Rabbit, meaning that taking initiative will lead to success. Let's start this year fresh with a brand-new workout to set the pace for the next four weeks.

The first thing you need to do before establishing goals is to find out which ones to choose that will help you progress. The best way to do this is to test yourself. Test your strength, test your endurance, test your limits.

My favorite strength test is the one-minute push-up because all you need is your body and a timer. Set your hands in the most comfortable position where you feel your weight is evenly distributed throughout both shoulders. Check that there is no discomfort or "pinch"-type feelings radiating from the base of the neck toward the shoulder blades or in the small of your back. Start the timer and begin to perform the exercise at the pace you choose until the minute is over or until you have to move your hands or stop due to fatigue. Dropping to your knees is permissible, however.

» How many did you do?

» At what point did you have to drop to your knees?

» Did you keep your back straight throughout, or did you sag like a rope bridge?

» Did your wrist, neck or lower back get sore?

» Was your pace consistent?

As you can see, there are many questions to ask and, depending on the answers, many different goals to achieve. For example, if you answered "yes" to the fourth question, then a regimen of core-centric movements and exercises to bolster the mind-body coordination is an appropriate approach to consider. Often, with people who have trouble lifting their own body weight, it's more a question of coordinating the correct muscles rather than pure strength.

While this test could also serve as an endurance test, the ultimate purpose is to find out how these activities make you feel. Did you hate every second of the test, or did you get amped to see how far you could push yourself? If your feelings fell toward the former, then establishing strategies that will transform your attitude toward exercise, such as setting up workout dates with friends or joining a fitness class, will promote success. After all, what good is a workout program that is so boring you won't do it?


Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. See his website at

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