70,000 . . . pushups?

Last year I did 70,161 pushups.

WHAT?! (That’s a common reaction)


WHY? (That one comes up sometimes too)

The pushup thing started simply enough in 2013 when son Eric (he’s a pro cyclist) mentioned that a former coach was advocating a fitness goal he called the Pushup Challenge: you start with one pushup on Jan. 1, two on Jan. 2, three on Jan. 3, and so forth all year long. You gradually improve your strength and endurance until you end the year with 365 pushups on Dec. 31. Simple, right?

That simplicity appealed to me, and I started right away, however “right away” was on May 1, because I didn’t hear about it until April. I kept at it all the way, but with the late start I knew I wasn’t going to hit any stratospheric totals. I got to 200 in a day which was a lot for me, but nothing amazing. There are guys who can do 200 in a set.

The rules are simple: you can do the pushups at any time in any combination of sets that works for you, but by the end of the day you have to have logged your total. The next day you start over with one more pushup than the day before. The problem is, what happens if you miss a day? Or fall short? Then you have to play catch-up. It’s easy enough to do during the first couple months when the daily requirement is less than 60 to begin with, but in later months when you get above 200 missing a day propels your next day above 400. It’s tiring. It’s time consuming as well, and that became one of the biggest hurdles.

“Drop and give me 25!” OK, 25 pushups can be done in 30 seconds if you’re in shape.

“Drop and give me 400!” Not so much. So I became strategic about breaking everything into manageable sets.

That created the next hurdle. Above 200 or so it becomes a challenge just to keep track of how many sets you’ve done. You have to actually create some kind of simple record-keeping system. I logged my daily totals on my phone (just using the notepad), but even during each day it became necessary to keep track! The simple idea was becoming complex.

In 2014 I started over on January 1. One pushup. That year I got above 250 & sometime in September I knocked off for the year. My shoulders were starting to give me trouble and at my age (I was 59) I don’t want joint problems. I called it a year somewhere around 40,000 or so, and did a few every other day just to keep in shape, biding my time for January.

In 2015 I got further into the calendar, but I still had to quit (shoulder pain again). I think I made it to my birthday (November 1), so I had crossed the threshold of 300 per day before dialing it back once again.

But I was psyched for 2016, a leap year– 366 days, the maximum load! In January I did all my required plus I built a small savings bank of extra pushups so that later in the year (we’re talking November or December where weekly totals surpass 2,500) I could fall back on them if necessary. (I never used any from the “savings bank” but it was huge to have them as a psychological boost to not giving up.)

On Dec. 31, 2016 I completed 366 pushups. The monthly total came to 10,881 just for December, and for the year it added up to 67,161 daily pushups. I added in my savings bank of an extra 3,000 mostly from January and February when the livin’ is easy and that brought my GRAND TOTAL FOR 2016 to 70,161 pushups!

I didn’t do anything special to celebrate, except we went out for New Year’s Eve to a fav restaurant, but we do that anyway. It did make it feel extra sweet, though. Now, it’s 2017, and today I did 225.

Hey, it’s just a thing I do.

2016 Pushup Totals by month

Jan  (31 days)      496 pushups     Total = 496

Feb (29 days)   1,334  pushups  Total = 1,830

Mar (31 days)   2,356 pushups  Total = 4,186

Apr (30 days)    3,195 pushups  Total = 7,381

May (31 days)   4,247 pushups  Total = 11,628

June (30 days)  5,025 pushups  Total = 16,653

July (31 days)    6,138 pushups  Total = 22,791

Aug (31 days)   7,099 pushups  Total = 29,890

Sept (30 days)   7,785 pushups  Total = 37,675

Oct  (31 days)   8,990 pushups  Total = 46,665

Nov (30 days)   9,615 pushups  Total = 56,280

Dec (31 days)  10,881 pushups  Total = 67,161


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